“I Was There” Files: Rock The Bells Festival

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Tired. I was there and I was tired. But for good reason because the shit was downright amazing. Pretty much every hip hop head who mattered and was still alive was there. Fuckin’ right.


First of all, the goddamn thing could have been held in Iraq and it would have been more convenient. Fucking Randall’s Island is inaccessible by normal forms of transportation so lines snaked around 125th street where you had to pay the fare in $5 dollars worth of coins. Like…MTA, please put down the rocks. You might as well have people pay in goats or glandular fluid. Shit was mad inconvenient. Eventually a kindly old cabbie took pity on me and I got to the island before the next ice age. HOWEVER, there was mad drama at the ticket booth and so I only got to HEAR Talib Kweli and Mos Def perform solo AND together from the comfort of the other side of the fence with all the other peasants.

Eventually my ticket sitchy was sorted out by a rapper friend whose name rhymes with Crackobatik. Bless him though, I had a fantastic time. After getting much-needed air-conditioning on the tour bus (the fest was coasting at firecrotch temps all day) and we saw Public Enemy. They even mixed in Pharoahe Monch’s version of “Welcome To The Terrordome” but they didn’t play “Fight The Power”!! Or maybe they did but I was delirious from sliding around in a pool of my own sweat. Either way, the crowd was gaytarded and unamped. They did play that jank-ass song from some white people movie soundtrack from a few years ago whose name I don’t care to research. Why was Chuck D mad diesel?? Like, his old man biceps were glistening from 50 feet away. And of course Flavor Flaaav was in the house and like any good splaboo he had his kids hustlin’ backstage and his lil’ daughter Kayla gave me and Crack a PE sticker. Praise him, she got her mother’s looks.

Whoever wielded the all access passes had the fortunate lapse in judgment to bestow one upon me. Fun times. For whatever reason, you could only go backstage on one side of the stage so we had to run in front of the stage during PE’s set. I kept looking up and noticed was close enough to get a mouthful of Chuck D’s sweat or get The Clap from Flava Flav. I was one of those horrible VIP people and it was AWESOME. I was bitching earlier about missing EPMD but then we wandered backstage and I met Erick Sermon, The Green Eyed Bandit himself!!! Wait, lemme throw some more !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!s on that. I also met (by met I mean, nearly ignored until Erick Sermon pointed him out) Rahzel and saw RZA and his lil’ afro puff surrounded by swarms of all the worst “people” (stank-ass label heads, ashy-ankle writers, stiff indifferent photographers, random coochie-slangers ( you know, the “I’m with band” breed of ho) and all their doe-eyed plus-ones).

I briefly caught Felt bouncing around on stage like monkeys and although I love the pants off them I’ll have to wait for another time.

After seeing The Roots for literally the eight time (after four years of free Roots shows in Philly, seeing the Roots is like saying hello to your neighborhood wino. The excitement is simply not there, especially when you know they’re much better when headlining their own shit) we went and shot the shit with this rapper who introduced himself by his government, Jeff, and his adorable lady friend we’ll call oh, we’ll just call her by her damn gubment name too, Gail. After us womenfolk got into this esoteric conversation about historical revisionism, the boys wandered off to get some herbal refreshment and procure some proper nourishment. Midway through our conversation about cultural nomenclature in the academy, I realized I was missing mothafuckin’ Cypress Hill!!

So I ran off, stole some unguarded Doritos (it’s real in these streets) and saw Bobo suck in this rowdy-ass plume of smoke from a bong the size of a fourth-grader. This was after they pumped up a 40 foot inflatable Buddha with an herb leaf on his belly. Sigh…yeah.  They went through all their wigger hits from Insane in the Membrane to Dr. Greenthumb to Rock Superstar.

Then Wu-Tang Clan came on and I definitely had a moment. Despite plowing through clusters of dirty New Jersey people looking for my boy Jake, and turning back after he basically said, “fuck this,” The Clan was ridiculous. They played all their hits as the Wu-Tang starting off with “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin To Fuck With,” “Protect Ya Neck,”” Method Man” “It’s Yourz” and even breaking for an Ol’ D B tribute as the crowd filled in the lyrics to “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” They spliced in a bunch of solo joints too including GZA’s biting “Liquid Swords” Raekwon’s classic girl track, “Ice Cream” and Red and Meth’s “Da Rockwilder.” And then they tried to give me cardiac arrest and actually brought REDMAN out for his verse of “Da Rockwilder.” La La La La La La  LAAHHHHH!!! (You kids know how bad I got the hotcrotch for Reggie Reg). Then they finished up with “Triumph” and I honestly started tearing up thinking about what a great group they are and how great and classic that song is. I mean, it’s about 6 minutes of straight lyrics!! What’s the hook to “Triumph?” Yeah, you don’t know cuz there ain’t one but you don’t notice because every line is genius. I did want to see and  hear more Ghostface who seemed kinda sedated or maybe he was just sick of all the sweaty ofays waiting for Rage Against The Machine. It just took me back to a time where rappers made boy music that girls could respect.

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8 Responses to ““I Was There” Files: Rock The Bells Festival”

  1. Energy Legs Says:

    your liver so broke…when i saw it walkng down the street with one shoe, i said “hey liver, lost a shoe?” it said “nope, just found one!”

  2. ConnyKate Says:

    As you Southern folk would say, Prayer-needin’. That’s all I got to say.

  3. The-XFacta Says:

    The artist listed are all good…. I know you really enjoyed yourself…..

    @ Energy Legs– That was garbage!

  4. ConnyKate Says:

    It was soooo much fun! It was genuine no bs fun. I haven’t a straight up fun time like that in a while…

  5. Big Homie Says:

    Im hating that you were there. Great run down..makes it worst for me though..lol

    I wish Rock The Bells stopped by D.C. We lost.

  6. “I Was There” Files: Lauryn Hill @ Wingate Park « Conny Kate Says:

    […] dressing Sly Stone, it was literally one of the best concerts ever. It was arguably better than Rock The Bells and RTB was Wu-Tang, Public Enemy, Felt, Cypress Hill and about ten other bands on two stages. […]

  7. shania d Says:

    I love your writing.. excellent and you have great taste in music.

  8. connykate Says:

    Aww…bless you! I checked your shit…you may have mail soon…once I get it together…

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