The third stop on the 2010 Rock the Bells tour took place at Governors Island in New York City. I was lucky enough to be in attendance and watch some of Hip-Hop’s elite perform their classics in the birth place of rap music–the Big Apple.
Due to issues beyond my control I never got to see DJ Premier or Slick Rick perform which was a major disappointment. However, thanks to Guerilla Union’s head honcho Chang Weisberg I was given the best seat in the house to watch Rakim perform his 1987 classic Paid in Full.
Rakim performed the entire Paid in Full album and even humored fans with snippets of the albums instrumentals, Eric B. is on the Cut and Chinese Arithmetic. During his hour-long set Ra blessed the audience with classics from his other releases like Know the Ledge, Don’t Sweat the Technique, Guess Who’s Back, It’s Been a Long Time, Microphone Fiend, and verses from his collaborative works with Jay-Z and Truth Hurts.
Next up was KRS-One who is the best live performer in the history of Hip-Hop. KRS was unusually laid-back during his performance and failed to perform the entire Criminal Minded album in its entirety as advertised. Criminal Minded may be KRS-One’s most successful album in his 23 year career but it doesn’t necessarily showcase KRS’s best work. The Teacha pleased fans with classics like MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know, Step into a World, and I’m Still #1 but overall it was the worst KRS-One set I’ve ever seen. KRS was joined on stage by Freddie Foxxx, Supernatural, and Buckshot who provided a jolt to the set but it wasn’t enough.
Due to a botched interview opportunity with an artist on the smaller Paid Dues stage I missed the majority of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s set. What I did witness was a sped-up performance of classic Fugees records that sounded a bit odd. During Lauryn’s Fugees flashback she invited A-list on-lookers Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Chris Rock, John Legend, Beyonce, and Jay-Z to join her on stage. Ms. Hill was clearly the act that everyone wanted to see at Rock the Bells 2010.
Following Lauryn was A Tribe Called Quest who performed 1993’s Midnight Marauders. As the sun finally went down in New York City to give concert goers relief from the heat, A Tribe Called Quest made things hot again. Although my favorite Tribe album is The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders is not a bad option to perform from front-to-back.
Q-Tip, Phife, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad destroyed the stage at Rock the Bells–like they always do. The Tribe opened with Steve Biko and closed with Award Tour which was more than fitting. In the middle of those two songs were other Midnight Marauders tracks and singles from various Tribe albums. Can I Kick It, Check the Rhime, and Find A Way were sprinkled in to the delight of the Rock the Bells faithful. Large Professor and Busta Rhymes even joined Tribe to perform Keep it Rollin’ and Scenario respectively.
Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan was next up to bat and was on par with Tribe as Rock the Bells best performers. The entire Wu-Tang Clan graced the stage along with the son of the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Boy Jones. The Clan’s 1993 classic Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was performed in its entirety and was a reminder of what made the Clan great–hard beats, dope lyrics, memorable hooks.
The Clan rocked New York city for well over an hour and even dipped into selections from classic Clan solo albums like Criminology, Duel of the Iron Mic, and Da Rockwilder.
Next up was West Coast legend Snoop Dogg performing his debut album Doggystyle. Snoop was joined by Doggystyle co-stars Daz, Kurupt, RBX, The Lady of Rage, and Warren G. Snoop and his cohorts hit the stage wearing Crip blue and hit fans with classic after classic from Gangsta Rap’s golden era.
Snoop Dogg’s set was accompanied by a video monitor that displayed well acted out skits by the DPG crew in between on-stage performances.
Unfortunately, I did not stick around to see the entire Snoop Dogg performance. I wanted to avoid being the last person to board the boat to escape Governors Island. What I actually did see of Snoop’s set was pretty damn cool.
Overall Rock the Bells was a great show. The main stage’s line-up was so strong that I never got the chance to see the acts on the Paid Dues stage. I caught brief glimpses of MURS & 9th Wonder but that’s about where it ends. Logistically Rock the Bells in New York was a nightmare. Having to travel by ferry and walk for what seemed like an eternity just to a witness a rap concert seemed like a bit much. Rock the Bells was a good event that in some instances lived up to the hype, while in other instances it came up short.
By: Sherron Shabazz