Hip hop’s golden era will be revived this Saturday when the seventh annual Rock the Bells festival opens at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, California. (Dates in San Francisco, New York and Washington DC, will follow.) KRS-One, Slick Rick, Rakim, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest and Lauryn Hill will all perform favorite albums from the late ’80s and early ’90s, with rising rappers like Wiz Khalifa and Yelawolf offering newer sounds.
“Sometimes I get mad that I don’t get a chance to see the whole festival,” Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan, who will be performing their 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in it’s entirety, told Rolling Stone. “I’m gonna get there early. I don’t care if there’s ten people in the crowd, you’re liable to see my ass the ninth one in there.” He added: “I’ve never done a show that’s a whole album. It’s gonna be one of the hottest shows this year.”
“Wu-Tang has only done like three rehearsals throughout our whole career,” said Wu-Tangs’s GZA, who’s most eager to see Rakim perform 1987’s Paid in Full. “We will be rehearsing for this one.” The first Rock the Bells festival took place in July 2004, four months before Ol ‘Dirty Bastard’s death. This year, ODB’s eldest son Boy Jones will perform with Wu. “He has a similar vibe — and wears his hair like him,” GZA said.
A Tribe Called Quest will perform their 1993 disc Midnight Marauders, possibly with a special guest. “Busta Rhymes said he’s gonna get on the tour bus and roll out to L.A. to perform with Tribe,” said DJ Premier. Premier is rooting for Lauryn Hill as she returns to the spotlight: “Everybody on that bill is gonna be standing on the side like little kids, hoping she rips it out the asshole and doesn’t break down,” he said Premier himself will spin a 45-minute set that includes a tribute to his Gang Starr partner Guru, who succumbed to cancer in April.
“As the rookie, I’ll humbly take the stage but will probably be missing the most epic shit in the world while I’m performing.” says Alabama skater-turned-rapper Yelawolf, who signed with Interscope in March. “I’m gonna be antsy to get off stage to watch the other acts, especially Wu-Tang doing 36 Chambers.” Another up-and-comer, Wiz Khalifa, has a plan for staying focused: he’ll do at least 100 push-ups and “smoke a ton of weed so I can do cool dance moves. That’s my meditation.”