Going four years strong, the annual Rock the Bells has really stepped up the competition for similar hip-hop festivals like Atlanta’s Birthday Bash and Hot 97’s Summer Jam. Featuring all-star lineups, first-string secret guests and A-list reunions, Rock the Bells has quickly become the latter-day Woodstock of hip-hop, the lyrical Lollapalooza, the Coachella of “C.R.E.A.M.”
While this year’s show hosted much-anticipated reunions from celebrated groups the Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as a high-profile performance from the controversy-laden Nas backed by a full live band, the night’s secret guests stole the show. No questions asked. Needless to say, New York was more than well represented, as virtually every headliner and guest hailed from the East Coast, constantly reminding fans of the true birthplace of hip-hop.
The first headlining slot went to the renowned De La Soul, who after two decades in the game proved their much-deserved place in hip-hop history with ease. Digging deep into their catalog of hip-hop classics (but surprisingly skipping “Me, Myself and I”), De La Soul drove the crowd wild when they brought out Black Sheep for an animated, participatory performance of “The Choice Is Yours.”