Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The New York City installment of the International Rock the Bells hip-hop tour on Sunday may have been the best hip-hop show in history. In a night where Dead Prez, De la Soul, Biz Markie, Afrika Bambaataa, the Pharcyde, Raekwon, Ghostface, Scratch, Supernatural, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Method Man, Redman, Slick Rick, EPMD, Keith Murray, Nas, Jay-Z and all four original members of A Tribe Called Quest with Busta Rhymes hit the stage, the 15,000 hip-hop fans who made it to the Jones Beach theater witnessed an historic event.
The doors opened at 12 noon. After I took three trains, one bus, made it through security and got in to the theater around two, Dead Prez had the crowd jumping to their anti-establishment message giving shout-outs to Crown Heights, Brooklyn along the way. Immortal Technique followed and continued the anti-government vibe.
De la Soul got on next and took things to the next level. They've been known to get a few crowds moving since their debut 21 years ago, and they were joined on stage by old school cats like Dres from Black Sheep who performed The Choice is Yours, Q-tip to do Buddy, and Biz Markie who brought the house down with, of course, You Got What I Need.
Next up was the Pharcyde, who before Rock the Bells hadn't played a show together in 11 years. Raekwon and Ghostface followed and had the sold-out theater chanting Wu-Tang. They were joined on stage by Cappadonna and played Wu classics like C.R.E.A.M., Victory, and a
tribute to the late O.D.B., I Like it Raw. Scratch and Supernatural came out after and Supernat kicked a freestyle that incorporated any object the crowd could hand him or reference in any way including t-shirts, cameras, jewelry, blunts, lighters, and a pair of underwear.
Mos Def came out next just as the Sun dipped behind the back of the stadium donning a kaleidoscopic basketball uniform repping Bed-Stuy. He did a few songs from the New Danger before being joined on-stage by Talib Kweli at which point they kicked it back to Black Star
performing songs like Brown Skin Lady, Definition, Respiration, and K.O.S. Determination. The reunited duo was joined onstage by Pharoahe Monch when the dj dropped Simon Says, and the crowd went nuts.
Method Man and Redman followed Mos Def and seriously got the crowd jumping. They climbed on top of the speakers, jumped into the crowd, stopped the beat to hit a blunt, and did anything else they could think of to incite the crowd. Guest MC's during their set included Slick Rick, who spit the first few bars of Lodi Dodi, Raekwon, EPMD, and Keith Murray who did his verse from the Def Squad version of Rapper's Delight.
Nas came out next and played possibly the best set of the show. He had a 6 piece band as well as Dj Green Lantern on stage with him. He kicked it back to Illmatic and brought it back to his new album making all the stops in between. The entire concert just about stopped in its tracks when midway through his Nas' set Jay-Z came onstage with a Yankees hat tucked low over his eyes. Nas put on his Mets hat, and the two rival MC's rocked a brief song before Jigga ran back off.
Finally, Q-Tip came onstage around 11 to close out the legendary night. He played his new single and other solo hits with Mos Def before all four original members of A Tribe Called Quest, Phife Dawg, Jarobi, Q-Tip, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, came onstage together in New York City for the first time in ten years. They played all the old-school joints off of The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, but the highlight of the concert was when Busta Rhymes came onstage during Scenario. In a night where hip-hop history was taught while simultaneously celebrating new school stars, Rock the Bells lived up to its billing as a world-class hip-hop forum, and then some.
Posted by Marc Amigone at 11:39 AM