I WAS THERE . . . Rock the Bells at Jones Beach 8/3/08
Rock the Bells
August 3, 2008
The New York City installment of the International Rock the Bells tour may have been the best hip-hop show in history. In a night where De la Soul, Biz Markie, Afrika Bambaataa, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Method Man, Redman, all four original members of A Tribe Called Quest with Busta Rhymes, and more hit the stage, the 15,000 hip-hop fans who made it out witnessed an historic event.
The doors opened at noon. Dead Prez had the crowd jumping to their anti-establishment message while Immortal Technique followed and continued the anti-government vibe. De la Soul got on next and took things to the next level, being 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, “You Got What I Need.”
Raekwon and Ghostface 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 incorporating any object the crowd could hand him or reference.
Mos Def came out 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 came 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 “La Di Da Di,” 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 and Dj Green Lantern on stage with him. He kicked it back to Illmatic and made all stops in between that and his newest album. The entire concert just about stopped in its tracks when Jay-Z came onstage with a Yankees hat on. 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 10 years. They played all the old-school joints off The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. 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 reputation as a world-class hip-hop forum.