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Rock The Bells – The Concert Of All Concerts!

laurynhill-4

I think that I accidentally fell asleep in my hot tub time machine on Saturday night and awaken Sunday morning in the golden era of Hip-Hop.  On Sunday August 30, 2010 I attended an outdoor twelve hour hip hop concert, that attracted enough people to fill a moderately sized stadium.  There were two stages designated for acts to perform on.  One stage was titled the Paid Dues stage and the other one was the main stage.  I spent my whole day covering the main stage.  That ‘s where I saw Slick Rick, Rakim, KRS-One, DJ Premier, A Tribe Called Quest, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg, in that particular order, perform classic material from their classic albums.  For one whole day, they simply reminded everyone in attendance the definition of real emceeing.Seven hundred twenty minutes of pure excitement, entertainment and anticipation that I’ve attempted to capture and convey to you with my pen, camera and emotion.  So for all of you who were unable to attend, or were in attendance and just want to once again revisit the moment, if you will, please let me give you a brief recap of Rock The Bells – DC, as I felt it.  This is The Dews Perspective.Dave the dope fiend shooting dope, who don’t know the meaning of water or soap!Before I go any further please allow me to say this.  I’m from east Baltimore and I’ve been slick since 1983, twenty seven years to be exact.  And just like TI (congrats on Takers) is the self appointed King Of The South, I’ve anointed and appointed myself the authority of what is and isn’t slick.  It goes without saying, Rick is slick.  Truck jewels still intact, eye patch and Sinatra colored eyes attire (shirt and matching shoes), he was the first to appear on the main stage, performing in front of a minimal audience.  This was still during the time while people were steady arriving to the venue in Columbia, Maryland, which was en route to capacity full, but not quite there.  However, those of us who were there by 12:00pm were spread out, with some sitting inside the pavilion and others outside on the lawn while Rick The Ruler delighted his fans with hits from his Adventures of Slick Rick lp, long player, 12“ vinyl.  Cool and precise with limited movements, nothing wasted, he graced the stage and performed crowd favorites such as Mona Lisa, Children’s Story and Teenage Love.  His rendition of Teenage Love was given a different treatment, laced with a Gamble and Huff International Philadelphia sound, he rapped over Sara Jean Perkins song, Don’t Let It Go To Your Head.  Without appearing to even break a sweat, he performed his songs and he did the Wop, while enticing the crowd to say, “go Slick Rick go Slick Rick go,” in which we did oblige.  A hip hop legend opened the concert of all concerts and then casually disappeared.  Returning to his throne until the next time the public should be so lucky and honored to be entertained by the one and only Grand Wizard, emcee Ricky D (echo the D please).She thought I was a donut, she tried to glaze me!I promise you that I can not begin to talk about Rakim Allah’s devouring of the stage reciting his Paid In Full lyrics without first acknowledging his DJ.  We all know that Ra “nominated his DJ for president” and I’m not certain why Eric B was impeached, but the dude that’s now presiding in his office is ridiculous on the 1‘s and 2‘s.  His name is Technique The DJ and he cut like guinsu.  Pre Rakim’s arrival to the stage, Technique paid homage to my favorite DJ from my favorite rap group, by scratching “so when asked whose best yall should say, Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay.”  The crowd roared.  Then with keeping in the Rock The Bells theme, he shouted out Jazzy Jeff while he commenced to kill the line, “LL Cool J is hard as hell/Rock The Bells.”  The crowd got even more hyped.  For me, at this time I’m standing in front of the stage preparing to record the God with my flip video, my mug was broke so hard as I bobbed my head, I’m certain that they didn’t know if I was there to shoot them or shoot them.Self esteem make it seem like the thought took years to build!Rakim bopped onto the stage, as cool as I ever perceived him to be, Barack like, acknowledged the crowd and then said, “turn up the bass, check out my melody, hand out a cigar.  I’m letting knowledge be born and my names the R, A-K-I-M, not like the rest of them I’m not on the list.  That’s what I’m saying, I drop science like a scientist.”  Immediately, the energy in the venue increased.  More people are now occupying seats in the pavilion as well as space on the lawn.  The crowd is more amplified, obviously because we’re standing in the presence of rap deity.  Throughout his whole set, there was nothing animated about him.  His movements were not overly exaggerated.  His rhymes were clearly articulated.  His content and delivery was as distinguished and poignant today, with the same effects as they had twenty four years ago when his first album dropped.  Rakim did practically his whole album:  Eric B for President, Paid In Full, I Aint No Joke, Check Out My Melody, As My Rhymes Go On, I Know You Got Soul and other songs.  As a matter of fact, The R even relieved Technique for a minute on the turntables when he began to scratch the line “Rakim gets stronger as I get older“ from I Know You Got Soul.  After observing arguably the greatest emcee ever also do his thing on the 1‘s and 2‘s, I  was even more convinced of his omnipotence.  And as if that wasn’t enough, in temperatures upwards to ninety degrees, his white Ralph Lauren shirt and matching white uptowns were still pristine after a sixty minute set.  The bottoms of his sneakers weren’t even dirty.  As a matter of fact, I’m almost certain that he hovered above the stage.At the end of their performance, Technique reminded the audience that the God emcee has an album in stores and that it could also be purchased on itunes.  He encouraged those in attendance who didn’t have Rakim’s latest work to purchase the music.  Without missing a beat, Rakim made it known to those who may be comfortable with piracy that his lyrics have a virus in them that will destroy your applications (even your vehicle) if you try to bootleg his shit.When he began, he simply pulled the microphone from out of his pocket.  When he ended, he slammed the microphone to make sure it was broke.  In between those two bookends, Rakim did exactly what he does.  And that’s” move the crowd.”  Did you hear me?  That’s “move the crowd.“  The God has spoken.I’m not saying I’m number one, uh sorry I lied.  I’m number one, two, three, four and five!If Rakim just have high self esteem which gives the impression that his greatness is effortless, then I don’t know what this next dude has.  But whatever it is, I want some.  When KRS-One took to the stage before he began to spit, he stated that he was now about to differentiate emceeing from rapping.  Needless to say, he did just that!  Now Rakim is the God MC (check above), but I swear to God that when Kris Parker came out adorned in a Boogie Down Productions tee shirt with a picture of his main man Scot La Rock on the front, the energy in the pavilion and out on the lawn increased by an untold amount of decibels.  He came out to the sounds of the “South Bronx.”  Need I say more?  Kris performed songs from his Criminal Minded album, which were obviously dope (do people even say that now?  wait, I can say it because I was traveling in my hot tub time machine.)  Musically, energy and performance base, he possesses everything that encompasses a true emcee.  It’s even been argued that KRS-One gives the best live show.  After witnessing what I observed, the impact that his presence had on the crowd, I will not even attempt to dispute that he doesn’t.  Accompanying the gentleman also known as Knowledge Reign Supreme Over Nearly Everyone to the stage was “the worlds greatest freestyle artist” as christened by KRS-One himself, Supernatural and the undisputed heavyweight champion of hip hop, Freddie Foxx.  KRS-One performed his hits, but on several different occasions stopped the music to stress this point.  He told the audience “see us as what you can be.”  He said, “see yourself standing here, meaning what your dreams are, be inspired to pursue them.”  KRS-One proclaimed that “hip hop is the apprenticeship of our children’s heritage.”  He beckoned that our “culture be taken seriously.”  He duly noted that “everyone of tonight’s performers came from nothing and that’s what you should get out of this.”  His message during his performance was for the audience to be encouraged to “master your purpose.”  Before parting Kris told the multi-racial crowd to “focus on your purpose, not the bullshit on Fox News.”Be reminded, this is the man who said:  “Who gets weaker, the king or the teacher?  It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality.  Teachers teach and do the world good.  Kings just rule and most are never understood!  If you were to rule or govern a certain industry, all inside this room right now would be in misery.  No one would get along or sing a song.  Cause all would be singing for the King.”  Is he wrong?Then Freddie Foxx grabbed the mic to make a very important announcement.  First he spit one of his ill rhymes with conviction and then he stressed this point:  any emcee that’s spitting that tough shit without conviction, he will reach from his sock and knock you the fuck out!  I don’t feel the need to say anything else pertaining to that other than, he’s dead ass serious!  Any time a forty year old man is promising to put his hands on you, that means he is well trained and prepared.  I tell you what, all of you conviction less rappers talking tough just to hear yourself sound tough, stay the fuck out of Mr. Foxxx’s way!  Please.These are the words that I manifest.Next up, well I believe that’s thee DJ Premier who blessed the stage at this years RTB.  The world famous DJ Premier dedicated his set to his and our deceased brothers, Lamont Coleman and Keith Elam, professionally known as Big L and Guru by playing and scratching their songs to our delight.  He even sent  the crowd into a frenzy by playing some Group Home material.  I’m telling you, once Premier mentioned that he was going to appease the crowds request by playing GH material, one guy jumped out of his seat and pumped his arms (yes plural, both of em) so hard, that I immediately said to myself, “damn he must have did a bid with those dudes or he has to be their biggest fan.“  It goes without saying, the music was incredible and DJ Premier is the man.  During that day, through his ability to make beautiful music out of sound, he fulfilled Gangstarr’s promise by putting beyond doubt or question that he is hip hop elite.  I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to see him perform live.  My man.  In addition to all of that, his momma is from Baltimore.  Can somebody say, “B more’s in the house.”  Without a doubt, I’m going to be the writer everybody yap about.Industry Rule number 4080 – Record Company People Are Shady.Introduced by Hot 97’s and Silver Spring, Maryland very own Peter Rosenberg as his all time favorite group, the gentlemen collectively known as A Tribe Called Quest seized the stage.  Phife Dawg, who was wearing jersey’s well before they were considered fashionable (trailblazing), Ali Shaheed Muhammad aka Muhammad My Man and the abstract Q Tip rocked the stage like there were no acts to follow them.  Or at least they were going to make it difficult for the ones who had to.  They performed songs from their Midnight Marauder lp, long player, 12” vinyl such as Award Tour and Electric Relaxation, including others.   The Native Tongue brothers got joints for days and they showcased them, from Bonita Applebaum, which they had the whole crowd doing the two step to when they performed it to Check The Rhime. They were even joined on stage by both Spliff Starr and Busta Rhymes when they blessed us with other material such as Busta‘s verse from Scenario.  When he said, “watch, as I combine all the juice from the mind. Heel up, reel up, bring it back come rewind.  Powerful impact, Boom from the cannon” the partially packed venue, crowd steadily increasing in size and numbers, inside the pavilion and outside on the lawn exploded!  Just as animated as Jay once rapped that he was, Busta Rhymes along with his right hand man Spliff, did their motherfuckin’ thing.  As their time was coming to a conclusion, Q Tip who initially appeared fully dressed was now unclothed down to his underwear.  Backpack, gone.  New Era fitted, gone.  Nike Air Force Ones, gone.  Shorts, gone.  All that remained was a soaking wet white Polo tee, socks and blue boxers.  Wearing just that, or should I say barely nothing at all, he took these parting shots when he boldly stated that “we had and will have a lot of superstars on this stage here tonight, but I want yall to know one thing.  This is Tribe’s house!  And when I say whose house, yall say Tribes house.”  Before leaving he said, “whose house” and we all yelled back at the top of our voices“Tribe’s house.”  They all exited to arousing applause and cheers.  They killed it.  For a split second, I thought that maybe ATCQ held the mortgage to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. and then Ms. Lauryn Hill appeared.  Shift!I can do what you do easy, believe me.  Fronting niggas give me heebee geebies.  So why yall imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone.When Ms. Lauryn Hill walked on to the stage, it was a wrap!  The crowd went hysterical.  Nowadays, critics critique and criticize the hoarseness of her voice and its lack of strength, but her fans don’t care about none of that.  We love Lauryn Hill.  All she has to do is show up with her band, we’ll perform the songs for her.  As I stood in front of the stage, gazing in eager anticipation to see the Queen, I began thinking about the impact of her music.  Which led me to conclude that it’s a travesty  her name is not regularly mentioned in the greatest discussion.  Are we really listening?  They say you’re great when your music transcends culture, then what are you when it transcends culture, socioeconomics and gender?  That’s exactly what Ms. Hill managed to do as a member of the Fugees and then as a soloist.  Unlike many females in the game or trying to get into the game, Lauryn is a star not because of her physical attributes or the tightness of her attire, but because of her gift.  She got “it.”  “It” is that indescribable thing that only the great ones have, but it‘s recognized by all.  It’s the  way she moves, the way her body sway, the way she controls the crowd.  It’s the way she rap poetically, the feeling she convey through her music, the way she sings, the words she chooses to use and the soulful conviction that you can hear in her voice.  On August 29, 2010, exactly twelve years and four days since the release of her classic album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, I was present to bear witness to a legend who vacated the public and the music business to rightfully tend to herself and her children.Throughout the day, there was speculation that she may not perform.  Earlier, we were told that she was in the building, but not feeling well.  She was dehydrated and her voice was strained from performing the night before.And then.There she was in flesh and blood, doing what she obviously was gifted by the creator to do, spitting “it‘s funny how money change a situation.  Miscommunication leads to complication.  My emancipation don’t fit your equation.  I was on the humble, you on every station.  Some wan play young Lauryn like she dumb.”    She’s more than your average entertainer.  The embodiment of pure and unabated talent.  For her, the stars once aligned.  I’m just gracious that I could bear witness when they did.This night, she wasn’t alone either.  After asking the sound man if her friend had a microphone, he appeared.  Performing If I Ruled The World with Ms. Hill was the heralded emcee from Queensbridge, top five dead or alive on everybody’s list, Mr. Nasir Jones.  The crowd was already screaming at the top of our lungs, I don’t know how we managed to scream even louder, but we did.  I don’t even think I’m suppose to be screaming, I’m suppose to be working.  Nevertheless, I participated in the festivities as well!  Who says you can’t work and have fun at the same time?  Besides, I’m at Rock The Bell 2010, the concert of all concerts.After stating that her time on the stage would be short, she did about four or five songs.  Then just as Lauryn appeared and she quickly disappeared.  Who knows when she will appear again.  As she left the stage, I just stood wondering to myself how great it must feel to have done something in life that have impacted so many people, invoking emotions in individuals that you’ve never even met personally.  Her solo album was released twelve years ago and her appearances since her self imposed retreat from the industry have been sporadic, to say the least.  Yet and still, whenever she return to the stage, even if it’s only for one night, it’s open arms, love and adoration that awaits her.  For a night, I was in the presence of greatness.  We love you Ms. Lauryn Hill.In between the next set, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg felt it necessary to rep his hometown Redskins and taunt my city’s beloved Ravens.  He held up a jersey and everything.  And if I’m not mistaken, he told the Ravens fans to “eat” something.  But if you thought that was disrespectful, then your queasy something could not stomach what was next to come.Introduced by Rosenberg as the creators of the album that not only changed the music, but changed people lives.  Enter The 36 Chambers.Wu Tang Clan aint nothing to fuck wit!You know how when some dudes say they aint to be fucked with and you look at em like “yeah, whatever.”  Well when these dudes say it, they actually mean that shit.  And all you need is one glance for confirmation.  Hell, you don’t even have to look at them directly, just see em from your peripheral and you’ll be convinced. From the slums of Shaolin, Wu Tang Clan strikes again.  The RZA, The GZA, Ol Dirty Bastards namesake, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon The Chef, U God, Ghostface Killah, Cappadona and M-E-T-H-O-D Man.  They were all in the packed pavilion.  As soon as they entered onto the stage, it was obvious that there energy was unrivaled, unparalleled by those who came before or would come after.  People on the floor were immediately doused with bottled water from Meth.  The rhymes were flowing, the camaraderie was genuine and even with a slew of people on  stage at the same time, there maintained a certain level of order minus chaos.  It was truly like watching a transformer.  It’s apparent and has been proven that they are all separate entities capable of success, but collectively they are something special for all to behold.The Clan performed damn near everything that appeared on Enter The 36 Chambers to the satisfaction of everybody in attendance.  My favorite joint that they performed, if I can pick just one, began with a Clan induced call and response.  That went something like this:  Let me hear you say, make money, money, make money, money, money.  Now let me hear you say take money, money, take money, money, money.  Then The Charmels sampled As Long As I’ve Got You music played and with perfect timing they began to rap, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, CREAM, get the money.  Dollar dollar bill yall.  I grew up on the crime side the New York Times side staying alive was no jive.”  The mug, which briefly turned into a smile while in the presence of Ms. Hill, returned full fledged during Wu’s performance.  This time my mug was broke so hard, my lips were shaped like a horse shoe.  “Figured out I went the wrong route.  So I got with a sick tight click and went all out” was not only a verse in the song, but a theme in the lives of so many young men.  In addition to talking about that scrilla, they told us to Protect Ya Neck, that They Bring Da Ruckus, the Clan In Da Front and they aint nothing to fuck with!There was even a portion of the show that was dedicated to Ol Dirty Bastard.  Meth said that “tonight were not going to mourn nor would there be a moment of silence.  Instead we’re going to celebrate the life of ODB.”  And with that said, Ol Dirty Bastard’s son, Boy Jones, a startling striking resemblance of his father grabbed the microphone and reminded us that his daddy said “Ooh baby I like it raw!”  That shit was crazy!  Besides the fact that he looked like his father, he even had his hair platted like ODB had his on the cover of his Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version.Everyone of the members were spotlighted throughout the night.  Everyone of them were given ample time on the mic.  Nobody went unnoticed.  Rae and Ghost even brought Nas back to perform Verbal Intercourse from the purple tape.  To cap the night and just grant you a visual of how well perceived the Wu Tang Clan’s performance was by the people.  Method Man entered the crowd, but he didn’t surf it, instead he stood erect on top of it!  Held up in the air by the people who lives were changed by their music.  Now that’s love.After that Inspectah Deck took the mic and shared with the audience that his mother passed away just hours before the show.   He shared that he contemplated not doing the show, but felt that he had to.  I’m certain that the performance, the reception/energy  from the crowd and being around his brothers during that time was comforting for him.  Before leaving the stage he reminded us all that if you love someone not to wait to tell them.  His statement immediately made me think of my own mother who often says, “don’t wait until I die to give me my flowers.“  ODB son then made some closing remarks.  Afterwards they departed the stage the same way they appeared on the stage, like rock stars.What’s my motherfuckin’ name?  Snoop Doggy DoggSnoop’s stage décor consisted of an analog screen backdrop displaying his DoggyStyle album cover, a fire hydrant and forty ounces of Old English malt liquor sitting on an unattended table.  Some with skirts and some without.  In addition to displaying his album cover, the analog screen was used as monitors to show a short film in which Snoop played a pimp name Snoopafly.  I thought to myself, we’re about to have a motherfuckin’ ball.  I wish I was inebriated!   That would have put me back in the place where I was in the early nineties when I first started listening to Snoop.  That’s when my homeboys and I were chasing Tanquray with either eight ball, that crooked letter or some shit called Crazy Horse.  I swore to myself that if Snoop came out smoking that sticky icky and passed it to me, I’m gonna hit that motherfucker.  You know, I’d hate to offend Uncle Snoop by not smoking with him.  If you know anything about smoking etiquette then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If someone politely offer you a blunt, you politely hit it, at least once (then pray that you don’t have to take a urinalysis within the next thirty days or that it isn’t laced with something other then weed).Snoop comes onto the stage with the whole Dogg Pound Gang.  Lady of Rage was there.  Daz and Kurupt were there.  Warren G was there.  Even RBX was in the building.Next to the slick brother with the eye patch and British accent, Snoop has the most melodic flow ever.  The customized microphone that he uses looks like he’s talking into a piece of jewelry.  It’s something only fitting for a pimp.  And could only be used by a man cool enough to make adorning a blue bandana jump suit and matching blue Chuck Taylor’s look slick.As the headliner, Snoop D O double G and his crew continued to take capacity full house on a ride down memory lane, performing songs from their quadruple selling platinum album.  They let off in succession joints like an automatic weapon:  G Funk intro, Gin and Juice, Murder Was The Case, Who Am I (What’s My Name?), Aint No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None) and G’z up, Hoes Down.  With his smooth west coast flow, the only non east coast act performing on the main stage at Rock The Bells, Snoop and his folks mellowed the evening out quite nice.And though he didn’t share his sticky icky with me, he did share his music.  And I’m certain that the influence of his music from his debut album DoggyStyle and the opportunity I got to see him perform songs from the photo pit will last much longer than any high ever could.   Thank you Doggfather.Whew, I just condensed twelve hours of performances into several hundred words.  I know it was long to ride, just imagine how long it took to write.  Well, anyway, I hope that you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Rock The Bells 2010 – DC.

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