Hip-hop festival Rock The Bells set off its 2011 series of concerts Saturday at the San Manual Amphitheatre in San Bernardino, California to a crowd of nearly 40,000 hip hop fans. This year’s show followed up with last year’s classic album’s theme with acts like Cypress Hill performing their 1993 sophomore album Black Sunday which B-Real, the lead rapper of the group, says were the first to perform an entire album.
“We performed it at Smoke Out 2 years ago which is where Chang pretty much developed the idea of doing full blown albums.” Says B-Real “We were the first to do it and he started doing Rock The Bells like that because people were very receptive to it.” Mos Def and Talib Kweli gave hip hop heads a good dose of rhyme flows from their classic album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star.
Rapper Common, who hit the stage sporting a classic Isaac Hayes look with bald head and full scruffy beard, juiced up the crowd with cuts from the Be CD. Although a headlining act, Common experienced the event with the heart of a fan.
“This is a show that me as a hip hop fan I love to just experience and to be around and see. You have artists that are my favorite artists and then they are doing albums that are some of the most classic albums you’ve heard in music.”
Despite the main stage presenting some major heavy hitters such as Erykah Badu, a good chunk of the crowd was held captive earlier in the day at the 36 Chambers Stage which was produced by RZA. Performances by the Wu Tang Clan and groups like Black Moon who performed the “Enta Da Stage” album; Souls of Mischief’s ’doing 93 Til Infinity and Mobb Deep reuniting on stage for “Infamous” made it very difficult for fans to decide which of the 3 stages to gravitate toward to see their favorite hip hop act.
It was when Nas hit the main stage that nearly all in attendance gathered in one place to experience “Illmatic” performed in its entirety. Closing the night out was Lauryn Hill who seemed just a bit fixated on her band but none the less intrigue her audience with songs from her award winning classic The Mis-education of Lauryn Hill.