In many ways, that is what the Rock the Bells festival is about. The festival, which is currently on tour, was created in a Los Angeles club as a way to support what the promoters call “real hip hop.”
“We created Rock the Bells to support social, political, conscious hip hop,” founder Chang Weisberg said. “That was about four years ago … Since then it’s turned in to a very large, what we call, platform.”
The radical rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine headlines the show, which also features Wu-Tang Clan, Talib Kweli, Cypress Hill and Mos Def — considered by hip-hop aficionados to be the best of the best. Rapper Nas performed in Massachusetts and is slated for more shows, but didn’t make it to his native New York.
The tour kicked off in Mansfield, Mass., at the Tweeter Center and then moved on to Randalls Island in New York City where stopped for two days. Unfortunately for concert goers, 부산 안마 Sunday’s show was a soggy one, but the 20-something (mostly white) crowd didn’t seem to mind as many passed joints and drank beer.
The acts who participated in this year’s 12-city tour are certainly among the genre’s most respected and most left leaning. Many used the stage to express their feelings about politics.
“F— George Bush!” Public Enemy hypeman Flavor Flav shouted.
“If you love real hip-hop music like Cypress Hill, Like Wu-tang, like Mos Def, say something!” he urged the crowd.
Rock the Bells is Weisberg’s attempt to salvage the music he loves as the industry continues to sell less and less albums. The live experience, he said, cannot be downloaded or bought on CD and he hopes the show is able to introduce fans to artists who may not be played on the radio or MTV. The show also featured a second, smaller stage for indie rappers on the Paid Dues tour.
Weisberg, who said he personally invites the artists to perform, chose carefully. He picked the notoriously militant Public Enemy to perform because this marks their 20th year. Nas recently released a song lamenting the direction of hip hop called “Hip Hop Is Dead.” That phrase became a touchtone for Rock the Bells, and among the crowd, signs and T-shirts bear slogans refuting Nas’ claim.
“Nas is totally entitled to say exactly what he feels,” Weisberg said. “That statement has been a source of inspiration for lots of people — put that chip on peoples’ shoulders to say, you know what, hip hop is not dead.”
For more tour dates visit RockTheBells.net.By Caitlin Johnson