Me and my friend from Denver come the same place. Not just the same hometown but a place where hip hop has a special place and I think gives way to our current taste in music. I think that a majority of the music I listen to know is influenced by a time where my whole world was hip hop. Needless to say I was jealous when I saw the line up for the current Rock The Bells. Luckily my friend BJ from [A Walking Disaster] was able to cover this weekend Rock The Bells and give us a full recap.
Much props to him for sharing and I encourage everyone to check out [A Walking Disaster].
Check it out....
After much anticipation of seeing A Tribe Called Quest perform at Rock The Bells, the spirits were hampered upon hearing they had cancelled due to illness. Not to fear as I was still pretty excited for the lineup that was on the bill. We arrived at the venue just in time to catch LA's own MURS who's actually in town all week for the Democratic National Convention playing a slew of after parties and events. He delivered a solid performance with many of his hits off his upcoming album Murs For President.
Next up was hipster favorites from the Windy City The Cool Kids. I had seen these guys before at the Blender Magazine Party in Austin last year for SXSW. Something about these guys who take me back to the good ol' days of hip hop. They come out with infectious lyrics and dope beats that just want to make your head bob. With a set similar to the one they played in Austin the Denver crowd got a taste of these cats from the Chi'. With Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish trading lyrical barbs back and forth the crowd ate up every minute of their performance on the very intimate second stage.
Staying with the Chi-Town vibe next up was the DJ duo known as Flosstradamus, this was my second time seeing these guys ( I caught their set at last years Monolith Festival). Word of advice if anybody ever needs a party starter call these guys. They incorporate a hip-hop appeal while maintaining an indie cred, throw in a hint of electronica and you have yourself an instant dance party.
We managed to skip the main stage and stick around the second stage to catch some of the lesser known acts. After the dance party Flosstradamus threw down, next up was another Chi-town product, she goes by the name of Kid Sister (she is Josh Young of Flosstradamus sister). A constant on the indie-electro dj circuit, Kid Sister comes at us with sharp lyrics and a stage presence unlike any other female emcee out there.
After witnessing some dizzying performance on the second stage it was now time to turn things up a notch and head over to the main stage where two of the Wu Tang's finest graced us Ghostface and Raekwon. Being a Wu fan all my life I have always been a big fan of these two ever since I was rocking Only Built For Cuban Linx back in the day. With fan favorites "Ice Cream" and other Wu classics the Staten Island duo put on one of the days best performances.
The crowd was in full hype mode after Ghostface and Raekwon's performance setting the stage for two of hip hops most loveable two'somes. Yeah i'm talking bout Redman and Methodman, I had a chance to see these guys back on the Hard Knock Life/Ryde or Die Tour in 1999 (damn that was a long time ago). I recently saw Redman a couple years ago in an unusual SXSW performance which was wild as seen i this video. With a slew of hits off The Blackout and some hot new tracks off The Blackout 2 they fed off the crowd encouraging all kinds of illegal behavior. At one point the whole front row pit was nothing but a haze that made the worst Beijing sky look like a clear day. Their slapstick antics had them stagediving at every opportunity, Redman even managed to throw his shoes into the crowd at one point. And by the way aside from a sequel to the album, it was confirmed that a sequel to How High is also in the works. It was only fitting that these brought a new twist to the term Mile High.
Next up was one of my most anticipated performances of the day. The Pharcyde have always been a huge part of my "hip-hop" upbringings. Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was a constant CD in my rotation or wait was it a cassette. I remember listening to "Passing Me By" over and over and still to this day is a favorite in my dj sets. Each member of the crew brings a unique lyrical aspect. With crowd favorites like "Ya Mama", "Runnin", "Drop" and "Passin' Me By", even Fatlip doing his own take on Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative". We can only hope they grace us with a new album.
Just as I anticipated The Pharcyde's performance next up was another. fresh off his "Untitled" #1 album, Nasir Jones known to us as simply Nas put on one for the ages. To this day I consider "Illmatic" one of my top 5 Hip Hop albums of all time. Hit after hit including fan favorites "Hate Me Now", "Nas is Like", "If I Ruled The World", and show stopper "One Mic", Nas's lyrical poetry captivated the crowd who seemed to forget that A Tribe Called Quest had cancelled. Sporting a fresh Barack Obama t-shirt (which is the one I currently own), he managed to bash Fox News in one of his opening numbers. All in all I would say that Nas left a rousing impression amongst the hip hop heads who had gathered at Fiddler's Green.
Next up was one of my favorite emcees of all time Mos Def. Infusing several types of genres into his style Mos Def comes at us with a style unparalleled only matched by a few emcees out there. Critically renowned for his acting abilities Mos Def is at his best when he is on the stage. Catering to the masses, Mos Def is a noteworthy performer who at any chance should be seen at his highest level. After a mesmerizing set, Mos Def was joined by none other than Talib Kweli bonding together forming the infamous Blackstar. A member of the exclusive Native Tongues Posse, who includes hip hop heavyweights A Tribe Called Quest, Delasoul, Common, Jungle Brothers, Blackstar seemed to be a perfect replacement for the absence of Tribe. Together Talib Kweli and Mos Def form what has to be one of the strongest emcee combinations in existence. They rocked the crowd into a frenzy showing us what hip hop really is today in a world filled with mainstream top 40 artist who seem to have forgotten their true roots.
For more pics from the festival click here: