I knew that once I had confirmation of press attendance to this years’ touring hip hop circuit Rock the Bells 2009, I would be in for a day of head-bobbing, mean mugging, and enough bass to make my teeth hurt for the next week. Put simply, it was one of the best days this summer has offered me here at Behind the Hype.
Rolling up on the scene, we are greeted by the parking securities, who guide us to the front of the parking lot, just near the gates. After feeling the scene out, we acquired our press passes and had a brief chat with the one and only Shazila M., our liason that got us there in the first place.
We stepped into the press tent while The Knux was doing their thing, and getting the crowd hyped up for the afternoon’s activities. Chali 2Na (of Jurassic 5 fame) was up next after a quick set up to keep things moving. The sound quality in the hills of San Bernadino was amazing, and while the place wasn’t filled up yet, we knew we were in for a good show.
Dan Huse (master of these photos) and I walked the grounds to the Paid Dues Stage, to catch some of my favorite MC’s from the underground hip hop group, The Living Legends. Two of the members, Luckyiam.PSC and Sunspot Jonz teamed up for their side project, Mystik Journeymen. They had us laughing and bobbing our head from the start, throwing out free cds and talking about Lady Gaga’s recent he/she issue. The crew represented their crew quite well, even taking time out to smoke a blunt from a crowd member, before ending the set beautifully.
Immediately after word on the Main Stage, the hill was awash with the sounds from the subjects of my interview, Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko. I now understand how he became the highest selling indie artist in America, with a high energy, semi choreographed set with Krizz Kaliko. DJ Chill laid down some impressive tracks for the crew to get busy to, getting the bikini clad women in the front row all riled up.
I felt nostalgic later on in the day when Big Boi came out with Sleepy Brown to perform mainly Outkast songs past and present. I wish that: Andre 3000 was in attendance to make it official, and that Big Boi performed Royal Flush from his upcoming album Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. All this however, were made up to me by the picture I snagged with the duo later on.
During the day, I spent some time talking to the security guard next to the stage; and we discussed who the secret performer of the evening would be. I was (correctly) skeptical when he told me it was going to be Jay Z, because he and Nas aren’t on speaking terms again. Silly boys. It was none other than our (second) favorite Londoner, Slick Rick.
I was shocked more than impressed really, because I thought he got kicked out of our country for his romping around with a gun in the 09’s, but ah well. I did love however, that he got us all hyped with his classic track Children’s Story before the set to the end of the night extravaganza.
Next up was one of the most talented performances I have ever seen, brought to us from the legendary Roots crew. The Roots are known for their top notch live shows, and I see why. At first they started a lovely jam session, just to get everyone’s chops up to speed, before breaking out their new single, How I Got Over from their upcoming album of the same name. After seeing them live, I had renewed vigor to stave off my hunger for that album’s October release date.
The most powerful part of the night however, was the Nas and Damien Marley collaboration. Another journalist from a certain Los Angeles web magazine (you know who you are young lady) had no faith that he would come out. Apparently, last year Nas was a no show, but I knew once I had the pleasure of meeting Mulatto (one of Nas’ live band crews), I knew it was official.
The lovely journalist and I waited patiently while our photographers snapped away during the action. We were asked by a guard if we wanted to go up on stage (or the side of it at least) to get a better look at Nas, and after the shock wore off; we obliged the man, and headed up.
There we were, ten feet from Nas while he performed If I Ruled the World. Needless to say, I felt more energy seeping off that stage that just about every concert I have ever been to. I stand proud to have shared the moment with such a talented photographer and fun-loving journalist (even if she was the competition) on that stage…even if we did get yelled at by the head of security for being up on the stage.
Dan and I took that time to say our goodbyes to the festival, and enjoy the amazing Ice Cube on the way out to the car, for the end of one hell of an engagement. This was a surreal and true honor, and I hope I’ve brought some of it here to you today.
Until next time my friends,
P.S.- As you know, my work was not done all alone, nay. I want to give a shout out to Shazila M. and Aaron F. from MSO for making the day what it was. Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten the honor of press passes and contact information to what we needed to get done. Also, Megan at Juggernaut Sound for setting up our interview with Tech N9ne (which is coming shortly). And finally, that sultry journalist over at LA2Day for sticking it out with me all day, and getting on stage with Nas to cause some trouble.