Rock The Bells Launches In Boston (Exclusive Coverage)
Article by Nathan Slavik
Boston, MA -- Represent. Respect. Recognize. That’s the mission of the Rock The Bells Tour which kicked off in a cloud of smoke in Boston in front of a raucous audience that came fully prepared to nod until their heads fell off. The capacity crowd got their every hip-hop wish fulfilled as Supernatural, Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Cypress Hill, Nas, and a gloriously reunited Wu-Tang Clan absolutely crushed the building. Yours truly was in the front row covering the event for DJBooth and with so much hip-hop crammed into so little time, I’m going to have to do a running dairy of the show:
4:00 - Supernatural is not only the host for the night, he’s also the greatest freestyle rapper on the planet. Seriously. He holds the world record for the longest continuous freestyle, clocking in at a ridiculous nine hours and 15 minutes. Sweet jesus that man can go off the dome. I can’t even sleep for 9 hours straight.
4:30 – Harlem rapper Immortal Technique grabs the mic and within minutes I’m looking around for a paramedic. I’ve never seen anyone so intense; the veins are literally poppin out his neck. The politically and socially revolutionary rapper swears he will “protect hip-hop” by any means necessary. I’m not gonna name names, but if you have a song with the chorus “A Bay Bay,” you may want to avoid Immortal Technique. Fair warning, I’m terrified of him and there’s a 300-pound security guard between us.
5:30 – The unbreakable Pharoahe Monch takes to the stage in front of a live seven-piece band. Pharoahe dedicates the set to “funksoulspirit” and he roams the stage holding the mic like he’s having a religious epiphany. Its dope, but the crowd’s obviously waiting for Simon Says. Sure enough the first “Get the f*ck up!” sends everyone into a frenzy of fist pumping. I think I may have accidentally punched a 12-year-old girl in the face. Sorry teenage girl, I’m sure you were going to get braces anyway.
6:30 – Talib Kweli emerges lookin so fresh and so clean with a white cap, white shirt, white shoes, etc. He’s the only artist who starts of his set by promising “a good time,” and sure enough Mr. Kweli interrupts the set for periodic dance breaks. The positive vibes are so good I almost don’t hate the hammered guy behind me. Almost. Kweli closes things out with a Jus Blaze produced joint off his upcoming album Eardrum, set to drop August 21st. My eardrums are already bleeding from the jet-liner volume level, but if that’s the price of hip-hop heaven, than so be it.
Talib Kweli flows
7:30 – The smoke’s so thick I can barely see my hand in front of me and that can only mean one thing, Cypress Hill. B-Real and Sen Dog patrol the stage with a blunted violence you can feel vibrating your chest. The highlight of the evening would have been B-Real joining percussionist Eric Bobo for a jam session, except minutes later they walk a four-foot bong onto the stage and Bobo takes an enormous hit. Feel free to read that again. Yes, it actually happened. Apparently the police really are scared of Cypress Hill.
B-Real lights it, Bobo hits it
8:30 – Nas has apparently decided he’s simply going to jam every song he has into the hour set. He covers everything from Illmatic to Hip-Hop Is Dead with breakneck speed, shedding clothes along the way. By the end he’s essentially down to his boxers, a diamond jesus chain, and a pinkie ring. And one of the greatest MCs of all time is so close I can see the nude portrait of Kelis on his right arm. Very tastefully done, may I add.
Nas shows his spiritual side
9:30 – The crowd’s in such a frenzy you’d think Jesus was about to take the stage, and that’s not far off. A resurrected Wu-Tang Clan, minus the irreplaceable O.D.B., throws down an hour long set so crushing I can barely remember it…or maybe it’s because Method Man keeps diving off the stage onto my head. The eight MCs clearly need to rehearse more but no one cares. It’s Wu-Tang, and Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f*ck wit! Oh, and Method Man announces the new Wu-Tang album is completely finished! You heard it hear here first, now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go sleep off the contact high I caught from Cypress Hill.
Wu-Tang Clan forever! R.I.P O.D.B.
All photos taken by Kyle Slavik