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Nas and Lauryn Hill Revisit Classic Albums at Shoreline
Nas – photo by Adam Joseph
Rock the Bells
Mountain View, Calif.
Since 2004, Guerilla Union’s annual Rock the Bells festival has established itself as one of the country’s premiere hip-hop festivals of the country. This year’s Shoreline Amphitheater stop drew a diverse crowd of several thousand out into the 90-degree weather for a solid 12 hours of music.
From popular 90s hip-hop outfits like Souls of Mischief and Black Moon, to modern-day lyrical heroes like Common and GZA, the four stages hosted more than 22 different acts throughout the day.
Last year’s festival debuted a new concept showcasing seminal albums in their entirety. Raekwon’s (with Ghostface) masterful Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, was among one of the day’s best, highlighted by a trove of guest spots from Wu-Tang’s large family and one of the most lauded freestylers on the planet, Supernatural.
Raekwon ended the set by asking the audience to give their love and respect to all those suffering from the wrath of Hurricane Irene.
On the mainstage, Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), arguably the best alliance in hip-hop, mixed notoriously wordy rhymes with tasty beats on favorites like “Definition” and “Respiration.”
As the hot sun began to set, 420-friendly Cypress Hill brought their sophomore LP, Black Sunday, to life. Along with the tunes from the pot-happy album, the four-piece, revisited earlier hits, like “Hand on the Pump,” from its 1991, self-titled debut.
The best was yet to come. Nas’ classic and timeless Illmatic, will always be regarded as one of hip-hop’s most important artifacts and to see the Queens native play his tour de force in full, was worth the entire price of admission. In front of a massive replica set of the Queensbridge Houses housing project, Nas quickly delved into the unforgettable prose of “The Genesis” followed by “N.Y. State of Mind.”
Lauryn Hill ended the festival with The Miseduation of Lauryn Hill. While the songstress’s performance was vibrant and powerful, the words of Nas—“Inhale deep like the words of my breath/ I never sleep cause sleep is the cousin of death”—just seemed to overshadow anything that followed.
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