Photo Credit: Shamezo Lumukanda/Magyombo.com for AllHipHop.com
Due to both stages rocking at the same time for most of the day (the main Rock The Bells stage and the RZA-endorsed “36 Chambers” stage), it’s all but impossible to catch every performance, but Day Two had an incredible share of highlights as well.
Dom Kennedy kicked it off, performing songs focused around his Yellow Album project that’s available to download. As a neat touch, he made sure to perform his “1 25” song as close to 1:25 PM as possible. The biggest reception he received, however, was for the Aaliyah-sampled “Gold Alpinas”.
Big Daddy Kane won the crowd over during his performance, throwing it back to classics and incorporating old-school jams that paid tribute to older artists. Jumping from the stage to party and rhyme with the crowd twice, he entertained all who listened with his multiple rhyme schemes and deliveries, with one even being over the instrumental for Jamie Foxx’s “Unpredictable.” He even delivers an old-school, B-Boy style dance breakdown at the end of the set with two dancers, and by the end of the set it was obvious that Big Daddy Kane truly believed in leaving it all on stage; there was no half-stepping anywhere during the performance.
Slick Rick followed, as he smoothly stepped out in all orange with his pimp cane, sporting a mini-jewelry store around his neck, wrist, and even on his microphone. To the delight of the crowd, he ran through several favorites before a fight in the crowd drew attention from the stage…until Slick noticed and promptly went into “Lick The Balls” to successfully pry the focus away from the negativity in the lower seats.
In between sets, DJ Chaos entertained the crowd by playing a few songs, and shifting his set to platform off the songs that got the biggest response (not surprisingly, they were mostly Tupac tracks like “California Love” and Dr. Dre tracks). MC Supernatural also essentially freestyled on stage for 30 minutes (winning the crowd over only after a few), then inviting people to bring things to him as he included them mid-rhyme; he even called out people in the crowd, with a big highlight being his acknowledgment of a handicapped fan (“He’s got a crutch, but I still got him dancing”). As the crowd realized what was happening, the feedback became almost instantaneous, and Supernatural ended to a standing ovation.
Surprisingly to some, one of the more high-energy acts was Common, as he came out with his live band and had several entertaining aspects to his show besides the music. From taking a phone call and transitioning it into “Testify”, to inviting a female on stage to perform a verse from “Come Close”, to actually stopping during “Universal Mind Control” to watch a B-Boy in the crowd, then deciding to one-up him on stage with his own moves, Common was a delight to watch. The crowd’s reaction to him was one of the more genuine reactions you could’ve witnessed, behind the aforementioned MC Supernatural session and the initial reception that DMX garnered the day before.
In addition, DJ Quik also made an appearance, performing some of his cuts on the Wu stage to a raucous crowd. Atmosphere used his somewhat off-putting comments to chain together his tracks and hold attention, but his set did nothing for the people that weren’t familiar with his music, unfortunately.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony gave a high-energy performance, but seemed to be having microphone issues for most of the set. While the entire crew maintained their level of energy, Bizzy Bone by far was on another level as he skipped around the stage, never seeming to lose energy until he collapses on the stage during the outro to the Biggie-influenced “Notorious Thugs”, only to perform the rest of the outro while sitting. The crew also made sure to perform the songs they did with Tupac, as that was the underlying theme for winning the Bay Area crowd consistently.
There were several other acts worth mentioning, such as Murs, Fashawn, Immortal Technique, and more, but the main event for day two was by far the Nas performance that ended the festival. Performing singles from his Life Is Good LP, and mixing classics like “Rewind”, “Made You Look”, and “One Mic”, Nas delivered a performance that was worth seeing in person. Each song had an introduction for the most part, including the quotable he dropped after the performance of “Daughters”:
“I put my daughter on blast with that one. See if she acts up again… it’ll be a part two.”
Although he seem to run out of breath/energy at the end during his “One Mic” set, the overall performance was great to watch, due to Nas and the added vocals of Eddie Cole, relative of the late Nat King Cole.
Overall, the two-day festival went well, and although it was somewhat of an organized madhouse, it was one worth paying for as the Rock The Bells festivities continue to impress. We’ll be sure to give you the coverage as it makes its last stop in Holmdel, New Jersey at the end of this week.