This year’s Rock The Bells was definitely something to be a part of. If this year was your first time in attendance, then you obviously have every reason to smile! Over the years, Guerilla Union has changed the format on how festivals like these should be presented to the masses, especially adding new and upcoming acts like Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller, Yelawolf, Wiz Khalifa, and more to those who have never seen or heard about them! Well, this past saturday was no exception; except for the fact that there were (technically) four stages: one of them being the GrindtimeNOW (emcee battle stage), and the addition of RZA‘s ’36 Chambers’ stage. Yes, they did it like that, you guys. It was one heck of a day be a part of, just to see why Guerilla Union keeps on #winning (yes, I ‘Charlie Sheen’d the hashtag).
What was good about this year I noticed was about how the setup was. Although the main stage has been in its usual spot whenever the festival was taking place at the San Manuel Amphitheater, you notice the conveinency on how close the Paid Dues/36 Chambers/Grindtime NOW stages were to each other. People were able to walk a few feet to check out Slaughterhouse, Black Moon, and Dizaster battling someone all in one shot, for example.
There were some unfortunate news that people didnt receive until they arrived, though. DOOM was unable to attend the show, Royce Da 5’9 had a conflicting schedule with Eminem at the V Festival, and much more recent, Curren$y breaking his foot during his performance on the Paid Dues stage.
Rock The Bells continued where they left off last year with the ‘Classics’ theme. Folks that were in attendance got to witness all the excitement behind their favorite artist’s classic albums by seeing them perform them in their entirety. For example, for those who wanted to see Mobb Deep, Black Moon, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah perform their classics got to see them over at the 36 Chambers stage, while for some that wanted to check out Erykah Badu, Common, Nas, and Cypress Hill got to check them out at the main stage. It may have been a battle for many to be walking back and forth among everyone else in the heat to check out their artists, but in the end, it was definitely worth it all. Some of the folks got the opportunity to see first-time RTB performers like Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, and Big K.R.I.T., giving their all and winning over new fans on the Paid Dues/36 Chambers stages.
At the Grindtime NOW stage, there was an emcee battle competition taking place, with the reigning competitors Dizaster and Everybody Knows squaring off. Before the final showdown, Planet Asia and his GCM crew took to the stage to perform ‘Trouble’ and ‘Front Runners’, among many others. Once they did their thing, the final round between the two emcees ensued, with Dizaster being the winner by a unanimous vote among the crowd!
Once the evening settled in, the moment that everyone has been waiting for was coming real close. If you were standing on the side of the main stage in the pit, then you saw before everyone the props for Nas’s set was the tone for his Illmatic album. The props were the Queensbridge Projects, with the street lights and a gate with the QB Projects sign on it. And when I say, ‘Nas has brought Queensbridge to San Bernadino’, that’s exactly what I mean.. literally. All his QB cohorts came out on stage to join him during his set!
At the end of the night, Lauryn Hill had her set turned into a classroom. There was a large bookshelf that was in the back, a chalkboard and a map of Africa on both sides. Some of the tracks that she was going through sounded like she was trying to finish them fast, getting to the point to where I hear people in the crowd talking about they didnt recognize the songs at all. Although that seems like the case, she did finish her solo effort like a perfectionist. This album really touched the ladies that night, as you can hear them singing along to tracks like ‘Ex-Factor’, ‘Lost Ones’, and ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’, as examples.
Saturday was the day everyone can record as one of the memories that went down in the history books. Cant wait to see what they’ll have in store for next year!
-The Word Is Bond Crew
Highlights of the night:
- Mobb Deep brought out Too Short and 40 Glocc to perform ‘Welcome To California’
- Nas brought out Ron Artest, Mobb Deep, and the rest of Queensbridge onto the stage
- Nas & Common performed ‘Ghetto Dreams’; Nas & Lauryn Hill performed ‘If I Ruled The World’
- Eric Bobo (Cypress Hill) took a hit off the Excalibur during their set