Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rock the Bells

July 28, New York City

The biggest hip-hop event of the summer was undoubtedly “Rock the Bells”, headlined by Wu-Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine. In addition to the stellar performances of these two giants of hip hop, the Saturday NYC show on Randall’s Island showcased Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, the Roots and Cypress Hill. Some of the highlights included the air-tight performance of the Roots who played a seamless set of vintage classics and new tracks from “Game Theory”, the ridiculous on stage antics of Flava Flav (who insisted on introducing the entire audience to his children), and the crowd-rocking beats of Cypress Hill against the backdrop of their twenty-five foot inflatable gold Buddha with a ganja-leaf on his belly. The entire Wu-Tang Clan was there (with the exception of Old Dirty Bastard, of course), and gave a great show.

Rage’s reunion left nothing to be desired, and was topped off by Zack De La Rocha’s comparison of George W. Bush to notorious Italian fascist Benito Mussolini through a call for Mr. Bush’s trial and public hanging. De La Rocha found a lot of support in the crowd and throughout the concert the World Can’t Wait Coalition, an organization that calls for and end to the imperialist war against our brothers and sisters n Iraq and the impeachment of President Bush, sold paraphernalia and engaged with individual concert-goers.

It seemed that a good time was had by all though it was obvious from the demographics of the crowd – particularly the lack of Black and Latino fans in the crowd - that the ticket price prevented many fans from low-income and racialized communities from attending. Also, as a hip-hop fan it pained me to see absence of female hip-hop artists on every stage during the Saturday NYC “Rock the Bells” show. Hip hop needs to recognizes and supports the talents female hip hop performers, and by failing to include any women (except for Erykah Badhu during the Sunday concert) that is exactly what the groups and producers involved in “Rock the Bells” did not do.