Guerilla Union, the promoter who puts on the Rock the Bells tour each year, was initially scheduled to unveil the lineup at an L.A. press conference May 8th. But the announcement was delayed a week to allow the members of a reuniting group to attend.
It worked out well for everyone last night, as Guerilla Union unveiled the tour lineup at L.A.'s House of Blues with four of the five reuniting members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on hand to celebrate. (Only Flesh-n-Bone was absent last night, but he will appear on the tour.)
"It’s just so good to see my brothers here. We’re having such a good time right now," Bizzy Bone told Rolling Stone. "This is cool as hell, to bring us to this and just kick it. It’s so exciting because of the Rock the Bells tour and legacy."
For Bone Thugs, being part of Rock the Bells – the festival that in past years has featured the reunions of Wu-Tang Clan (including O.D.B.), Pharcyde and Rage Against the Machine (who followed their Coachella appearance in 2006 with a headlining run on RTB) – is an honor. "My first thoughts were it’s about damn time," Wish Bone told us. "But in all realness, it’s time. We’re brothers."
They say that dissension within the group, which led Krayzie Bone to leave the fold last April, is a thing of the past. "I think the media stretches out a lot of things that happened between us a little further than it should be," said Wish Bone, "because we do love each other, and we know how important we are and what we bring to hip hop."
Krayzie concurred: "Once we get on stage everything else goes out the window, all the drama, and we’re into that mode rocking the stage for that moment," he says.
For them, Rock the Bells will only be the beginning. "It’s a kick-start for a very beautiful situation with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony," said Wish Bone. "It’s great that it starts here at a historical event."
Among the group's plans are more dates and new music. "You know, it’s in the works," said Wish Bone. "We do music, that’s what we do. It’s just a matter of time where we come back together, do it as a whole. We’re family, we’re brothers. At some point it’s all gonna come together."
One of the things that led Bone Thugs to come back was promoter Chang Weisberg. "That definitely had a lot to do with him, being a fan, coming to us like he really liked our music," Wish Bone said. Being on stage with artists who've given props to Bone Thugs also makes a difference.
"We’ve been in the game for almost 20 years, so to have artists throughout those 20 years tell us that we’ve influenced them, that’s when it really hit me," said Krayzie. "When I hear artists like Aesop Rock and Freddie Gibbs – all these young cats coming up – Drake and Wiz Khalifa giving us love, that made me know that we’ve really done something in this game that can never be duplicated."
As a result, Bone Thugs are excited to share the stage with both new and old acts. This year's Rock the Bells features a wide-ranging mix, from Nas, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane and Atmosphere to Mac Miller, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. This year also marks the first time the festival will expand to two days in each market. For Weisberg, it means that after eight years RTB has moved to the next level.
"A real festival happens over two days. That’s what people told me," Weisberg said. He was going to hold off on making the leap until 2013, the tenth anniversary of RTB, but the lineup dictated the time to expand is now. "This year, with all the new talent, old stuff, it all came together," he said, adding he only made the decision a month ago, when the confirmations started coming in.
It's already a stellar lineup, one that had press and fans gasping as MC Supernatural announced the lineup by freestyling, as has become a Rock the Bells tradition. Weisberg said there are even more names to come. "A hundred percent there will be some more additions," he promised.