Sorry this Rock The Bells report is a little tardy, but we’re still recovering from having our brain fried like an egg on the hot concrete of the National Orange Show Events Center this past Saturday. Held in San Bernardino, California - where it was officially 99°, but it felt like standing inside a toaster oven - we made it inside the grounds with all of the 143 flyers and 68 promo CDs that had been handed to us on the way in stuffed in our pockets (we have deep pockets).
The sunlight hours line-up was stacked with longtime Cali crews (Hieroglyphics, Living Legends), guys standing behind turntables (Q-Bert, Z-Trip subbing in for Cut Chemist), questionable rap beardos (Non Phixion, Sage Francis) and Guru rocking one verse and the chorus from a gang of Gang Starr classics. DJ Muggs bailed on performing - though we spotted him backstage rocking a white bucket hat and looking real yoked - but the unannounced acts made up for it, including Yo-Yo, Immortal Technique, Talib Kweli, and even OC, who came onstage with his new Hiero labelmates to perform the classic “Time’s Up”.
The evening's headliners were all east coasters who earned their rep last century but are still bringing the illzness five years into this one. Redman wilded the fuck out and was followed by Nas, whose revitalized show continues to deflate his rep as just a dude who stalks back and forth on stage. After finishing with a blazed-out version of “Made You Look”, God’s Son graciously gave the stage to KRS-One, the man who once famously shitted on his hood. KRS broke off “Sound Of Da Police”, “Step Into A World” and an a capella take on b-side favorite “Hip-Hop vs Rap” among others. The set ended with an extended freestyle session led by the Blastmaster that featured Supernatural, Mikah 9 from Freestyle Fellowship, Kweli and the totally unexpected appearance of RBX.
That only left Raekwon and Ghostface, who were performing together to celebrate Only Built For Cuban Linx, which came out ten years ago yesterday. After a two song warm up from Theodore Unit (718 is wild underrated), Tony Starks emerged to bust his verse from “Criminology” and was soon joined by the Chef. The two ripped both the hits (“Ice Cream”) and album cuts (“Incarcerated Scarfaces) from the landmark Cuban Linx as well as their own solo material. Though Nas did not rematerialize for “Verbal Intercourse”, Tash from the Alkoholiks came out to perform his “Rap Life” single with Raekwon, RZA did his verse on “Clan In Da Front”, they led the crowd through the beginning of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” as ODB’s teenage son imitated his father, both Rae and Ghost teased songs from the new albums they have coming out later this year, and then the sound got pulled because it was 12:30 and the people of San Bernardino need to get their sleep.
And so do we, we’re going to pass out again.