Every year, Rock the Bells unites rap fans and artists of varying generations for a traveling, multi-stage hip-hop festival. This year, for the 10th anniversary, RTB organizers Guerilla Union promised something special: holographic performances by fallen rap icons Eazy-E and Ol' Dirty Bastard.
Unfortunately, after two stops in California, Guerilla Union was forced to cancel its Washington D.C. and upcoming New York-area stops due to low ticket sales. It is a reality that saddened festival headliners Bone Thugs N Harmony.
"Basically you gotta really tell the kids and everybody out there to support hip-hop," Wish Bone told MTV News when he and the rest of BTNH walked the carpet at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards pre-tape on Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. "We gotta come together and let them know and support what we do, if not this thing can die so we gotta bring it together. It's an unfortunate incident, but with the economy the way it is too, that had a lot to do with it, but still we gotta support each other."
During the first two festival stops, Bone appeared onstage with a holographic avatar of their deceased mentor Eazy-E. On September 7, Los Angeles fans got their first taste of the virtual seven-minute performance, which found Eazy performing classics like "Boyz in the Hood," "Straight Outta Compton" and his unforgettable verse on Bone Thugs' "Foe tha Love of $."
The four-man group looked forward to sharing the experience with hip-hop fans on the east coast, until Guerilla Union founder Chang Weisberg issued this statement: "It's extremely unfortunate that we can't complete the last half of the 10th Anniversary Rock the Bells tour. We did everything in our power to save the show. Unfortunately, the financial loss would have been devastating. This festival has been ten years in the making. I am truly sorry we could not produce the show for all the fans who did buy their ticket."
Despite the cancellation, Bizzy Bone looks on the bright side. "It was amazing to see his family out there, for his children to be a part of that of that avatar and putting that thing together. It was an amazing thing for us because we didn't have enough time with him as it was," he told us. "Hip-hop finally had an opportunity to see one of its founding fathers of that do what it does."