ROCK THE BELLS CONCERT MIAMI. AUGUST 4TH 2007
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Wanna lose weight while listening to dope Hip-Hop? You didn’t have to hit the gym this past weekend as the Rock The Bells tour hit Miami’s tropical climate. At that time of the year you either get flash floods or sauna-like conditions so I won’t complain, at least the event didn’t get cancelled.
Held in an open-air amphitheater, Rock The Bells started slowly around 3 P.M. with local acts The Fresh Air Fund (Butta Verses and D. Schwartz) followed by Mayday who actually impressed me with their use of instruments like bongos, guitar, turntables and keyboards. I gotta give both groups credit because it’s hard to open a festival of this magnitude.
Then came Raekwon’s proteges, Icewater. They didn’t really rock the crowd but the last song they performed, their single ‘Love Don’t Cost (A Thing)’ saved their show, too bad Method Man, who’s featured on the song didn’t show up….
In between performances, the Guiness Book record breaker Supernatural kept us entertained, freestyling about anything and introducing the next acts. I was upstairs, around the various tents that sell tee shirts, food and music, when he announced Jedi Mind Tricks. I saw hundreds of people drop their beer and run to see the Philadelphia group. That’s when the show really began. With dope scratches from DJ Quest, JMT rocked the crowd with their agressive lyrics and infectious beats.
The temperature kept rising with Immortal Technique, helped by Akir and Diabolic. One guy wearing a University of Miami football jersey taps on my shoulder and says ‘that’s Immortal technique, the illest MC in the game right now, give me your card, I’ll send you some songs.’ I wanted to respond, ‘of course I know that’s Immortal Technique, HipHopGame was the first site to support him yeeaaars ago!’ but I just gave him my card. It’s crazy how Technique’s fanbase has grown over the years, 2 guys behind me were wearing ‘Immortal Technique, since 1492′ T-shirts, 2 girls in front of me dressed like soldiers from a revolutionary army knew all the words to the songs. You can always expect nothing but crazy acapellas, almost like speeches from Tech’, his DJ, GI Joe also blew me away with a routine that could easily have won an ITF DJ World Championship final. At the end of his show, Immortal Technique says he’s gonna be upstairs signing tee-shirts, CDs and posters. I go upstairs to see him and I see a line of 60+ people. No wonder this guy can wait years before dropping an album, he’s definitely not your typical MC and he’s understood what real marketing is. Building a fanbase is probably the most important thing because you know that when his next project drops, people are going to buy, not download. MCs, take a lesson….
Pharoahe Monch is up next with 2 background chorists. Monch does all his classics including ‘Oh No’ and ‘Fuck You’ and the crowd must have lost 20 pounds after his ‘Simon Says’ performance.
The sun is still here, no shade if you’re close to the stage and Talib Kweli is next. After a few songs like ‘Move Somethin’ and the catchy ‘Lonely People,’ Mos Def joins him on stage for a Blackstarr Reunion.
‘Definition’ gets the crowd in a frenzy but it gets crazier when Common appears out of nowhere to perform ‘Respiration.’
Kweli and Common leave the stage and it’s time for the Mos Def show. It’s getting dark and the blue spotlights help create a nice mood. Mos Def, rocking a gold chain with no shirt, takes us on a journey. Mos does whatever he wants, he doesn’t care if the song doesn’t make your head nod or if a few people ask for Wu Tang, he takes his time, performs his most famous songs and also his most obscure ones, remakes a few soul classics, it’s the Mos Def marathon and it paves the way for more hotness.
Nas enters over ‘Hip-Hop Is Dead.’ The music quickly changes to the ‘Ether’ instrumental. A few people start yelling ‘Fuck Jay-Z’ and fall intro Nas’ trap. The music stops and Nas yells ‘Fuck that beef shit, that corny 50 Cent shit is over.’ Nas is going through chapters, perfoming the Illmatic songs such as ‘NY State of Mind’, ‘It ain’t Hard to Tell’, ‘The World Is Yours.’
Then he says something very important, at least to me. I wishes Cormega, Nature and Foxy Brown were here and that they could perform the following song, the Dr. Dre-produced ‘Phone Tap.’ I think we’ll definitely get to hear the whole Firm group together in the near future.
From the MC anthem ‘One Mic’ to ‘If I Ruled The World,’ Nas gave a very complete show and Rock The Bells could have well ended here but the packed venue was still waiting for this piece of rap history: the Wu-Tang Clan reunion. R.I.P. ODB, all members came to represent including Cappadonna and Street Life. Method Man is clearly the livest member as the group goes through all the classic Wu songs people know word for word. Fat Joe, who was sitting behind me during Nas’ performance is now next to the sound booth, nodding his head, smiling like a kid.
While this edition of Rock The Bells didn’t have all the headliners from other cities such as New York, it was truly a day to remember. Do we really care about that fake ‘Is Hip-Hop dead?’ debate? Anyone who doesn’t just listen to commercial radio 24/7 knows the answer. Miami Hip-Hop heads now hope that Rock The Bells will come back even stronger next year.