Rock the Bells

For whom the bell rocked: Too much turned up

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Three to five years ago, the most popular phrase at Rock the Bells was “Rest in peace J Dilla.” This year, it was “Let’s get turned up!” The difference between the two shout-outs exhibits the festival’s progression from underground/old-school hip-hop gathering to a way more genre-expansive festival.

This year included stalwart acts that you would have seen at Rock the Bells 2004, 2005, and 2007 such as the Wu Tang Clan, TechNine, and Deltron 3030. But rappers like Juicy J, Riff Raff, and Trinidad James would have been ridiculed for not being “real hip-hop” enough in past years. This year’s eclectic and diverse cast was a reassuring reminder that hip-hop is not dead and that the music coming out in 2013 is just as worthy as that of any other era. Read more »

For whom the bell rocks: hologram rap edition

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This year’s Rock The Bells really is the Costco of hip-hop festivals. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the hip-hop world (plus some dead rappers) will be at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater this weekend. There is literally something for every kind of hip-hop fan out there, with more artists packed into those two days than weed in a Juicy J blunt.

Perennial RTB performers Wu-Tang Clan, Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick, Rakim, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and KRS-ONE will holding it down for the old school. Meme-rap stars Riff Raff, Danny Brown, and Trinidad James will bring their WTF-brands of rap. On the rise Brooklyn youngsters Flatbush Zombies and Joey Bada$$ will be present.

And even though the backpack era is over, mid-aughts underground luminaries such as Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Brother Ali, and Tech Nine will transport you back to a not so distant 2005. Headliners Kid Cudi, the entire A$AP and Black Hippy crews, hyphy super duo E-40/Too $hort, and Girl Talk (who might throw down a more hip-hop influenced set) will cap off the long weekend. Read more »

Heads Up: 6 must-see concerts this week

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Music can serve to fit your specific mood. If you can pinpoint an emotion you wish to heighten, you have the ability to explode the senses with a band or musical act playing live that night. You’re just that special.

This week, if you want to feel creepy, go to Death in June; for feel-good grooves, try Jimmy Cliff; to feel cultured, take in Julia Holter; to intensify a sense of ecstasy while engaging with the full scope of hip-hop today, grab passes to Rock the Bells. Read more »

Live Shots: Rock the Bells at Shoreline Amphitheater

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With a lineup jam packed with hip-hop artists from all across the genre’s increasingly diverse spectrum, Rock the Bells last weekend at Shoreline Amphitheater came and left Mountain View in a two-day flurry of generational hops.

The logistics: 35 acts from over two decades of hip-hop covering two stages in the span of a weekend. With just about any song, regardless of era, available via the web, this type of generational shuffling in music is becoming a normalized impulse. Read more »

Deltron 3030 is back

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After releasing their self-titled debut LP to cultish acclaim in 2000, Bay Area hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 mysteriously dropped off the radar for over a decade, resulting in borderline Chinese Democracy levels of superfan speculation. Now, with their follow-up, Deltron Event II, finished and slated for release this fall, the trio is going all out on their first North American tour since the project’s revival. Read more »