Rock The Bells Festival @ Jones Beach (8/3)
Busta Rhymes joined A Tribe Called Quest and Jay-Z joined Nas at the Rock The Bells Festival at Jones Beach last night. The show was more like a big family reunion than your typical hip hop show. Other special guests included Pharoah Monch, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Biz Markie, Keith Murray and EPMD. At the end of the night I heard people over and over again exclaiming in disbelief that "everyone was here".
In fact, the festival brought something for everyone: a fan of Jazzy Hip Hop, New York Hip Hop, 90's Hip Hop, Hardcore Hip Hop or just Hip Hop Culture. Sure there was the fair share of "yo, check out my next album dropping on the tip of the year" and "I am the greatest rapper ever, respect me". But something about the abundance of special guests, or the air thick with heavenly smoke lent itself to an over riding theme of "One Love".
Highlights from the day included Spank Rock with Amanda Blank, and obviously De La Soul, Mos Def, Pharcyde, Method Man and Redman, Ghostface and Raekwon. De La Soul played way early to a mostly empty venue, but they did bring out Black Sheep and Biz Markie and sampled "Just A Friend" at the end of their set.
Mos Def was joined by Talib Kweli for the second half of his set. This was one of the few sets not ruined by sound problems. Jones Beach was just not built to balance heavy bass. Even Nas sounded terrible, he had a full band backing him up and most of the set it was all drowned out. Method Man & Redman finally brought the crowd into a frenzy. The energy level jumped and after that point never really fell off. Slick Rick came out for the end of "Ladi Dadi". Keith Murray and EPMD also joined them, but it was all about Method Man, Redman the heavy clouds of blunt smoke and chants for the forthcoming "How High 2", which should be in theaters (or straight to DVD?) next summer.
After a half hour soundcheck which ended with the crowd booing to get started, Nas opened with "Hip Hop Is Dead" and proceeded through a greatest hits set spiced up with songs from his current number one album. Unfortunately at times it seemed he couldn't be bothered to remember all the lyrics and he even left epic lyrics from "If I Ruled The World" to be filled in by the audience. Late in the set Nas introduced Jay-Z by saying, "it's a tough world for a black man, hell, it's tough for any human being - bitch gotta catch a breath". To which Jay-Z burst onto the stage to do a duet of "Black Republicans". All in all I was very disappointed in Nas. His live band took away from the set and his trouble with lyrics kinda irritated me and took away from how awesome he spent half the set claiming to be.
Not to be outshined, A Tribe Called Quest brought all the hits and Busta Rhymes to show how it's done. The crowd went nuts for "Bonita Applebaum", "Check The Rhyme", "Electric Relaxation", "Oh My God", and on and on. It was their first NYC show in 11 years, since breaking up in 1998... and according to the rumors, Q-Tip has said it will be their last. Looking forward, Tribe's set also featured Q-Tip and his solo catalogue with a lot of lyrical assistance from Mos Def. But it was when Phife and Ali Shaheed Muhammad hit their mic's that the whole day really came together. I felt like the entire venue was experiencing true hip hop from its roots to its most modern expression. It seemed like everyone there, white, black, Philippino, Hispanic, entertainer and audience member was singing and dancing and experiencing that one love theme. By the time Busta Rhymes came out for "Scenario" and "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See", I was completely losing my shit. That's what a show should be. Well done, Tribe. Enjoy some photos from the event below.
Labels: a tribe called quest, biz markie, busta rhymes, collaboration, concert review, de la soul, guest blogger, jay-z, method man, mos def, nas, pharcyde, redman, rock the bells, slick rick, talib kweli