It was a family reunion on a long and hot summer day in downtown Miami, Florida. A typical family reunion where you find elders with the peppery white hair all the way down to the little ones entering pre-school. You had people giving hugs and pounds who haven’t seen each other in a very long time, and you had people who showed love embracing strangers from out of town as new-found cousins. It was a gathering of all ages breaking bread as a family affair that came to jam!
The family reunion was for the Hip Hop family, and they were celebrating at Rock the Bells!
From one of his most recent jams, KRS One asks,
“Where are my people that’s over 20 now? Where are my people that’s over 30 now? Where are my people that’s over 40 now? Classic! That’s what they call us now!”
KRS could have kept asking where are the heads that are over 50 and 60, too, and I would have told him they were all right here at Rock the Bells as young as can be. It was classic!
Miami’s Bay Front Amphitheater bared the face of Hip Hop’s nation. It was a hungry nation seeking nourishment from the sound that has been diluted by mainstream pimping, but it became a revived nation indulging on the sound that Kool Herc gave once the system kicked in. We did not only eat good, but we got phat, too!
Where ever I looked, there were all kinds of people gathering for the love of the true Boom-Bap.
Asian. African. Caucasian. Latino. Chicano. First Nation. Caribbean. Arabian. Albino. Mulatto. All complexions. All backgrounds. All beliefs. All languages. All shapes. All sizes. All jamming.
The family affair flamed on for twelve full hours in the heat of South Florida, and the True School of Hip Hop was in effect!
And I was at home!
There was that refreshing variety of style in music, showmanship, persona and surprise. There was that substance longed for in lyricism, content, and activism. And there was that pulse which welcomingly penetrated my state of mind, senses, and emotions reminding me how real Hip Hop music feels when gathering with like-minded heads like me.
Yes, I was at home!
The live music was sweet, rich, thick and raw like maple syrup oozing from a tapped tree. It was unfiltered, pure, candid, and natural as can be. The massive rocked back and forth in unison to the sound source. We were all jamming together as a tribe who was breaking free!
Right then it did not matter who stole the soul because on that blistering day I was at home. I was celebrating with my nation, and there was nothing Viacom, Clear Channel, and the RIAA could do to distort it. The real Hip Hop music was over here!
I wish you were here, too.
There were no knuckleheads. There were no fights, and even the police and security did not misbehave. The party was charged too positive for the interruption of any foolishness, and it was definitely rated NS for No Suckers allowed. Yes, there were no suckers in sight! Respect was in control.
So who rocked the mic right on such a fantastic day?
I saw Murs for the first time and he rocked it. He had no props or gimmicks. Just crowd rocking by himself as he campaigns for his presidency. He has my vote. The boy is dope! Courtesy of Murs, you can download his latest album for free right here! The brother is definitely nice!
Immortal Technique and his crew rocked it, too, reminding us the importance of Hip Hop’s consciousness and activism. He brought the fire from his heart and opened his mouth like a furnace. You have to see it for yourself. The brother serves his thoughts hot off the grill, and you better eat up!
De La Soul is simply magnificent! One of the last Hip Hop groups that I hope revitalizes that power in numbers. The way they tore up the festival I believe we will be seeing more groups on the way. Best of all Dres, from Black Sheep fame, was their special guest. He and De La brought back that sorely missed Native Tongues flare. When The Choice is Yours came on, Engine Number 9 steamed right back on the scene, and the nation went into a frenzy!
Supernatural, as usual, put on a freestyle clinic with beat box extraordinaire, Scratch, killing the set! These two dudes together were mesmerizing! If any young MC out there wants to learn about showmanship these were the brothers to learn it from. They are masters of flawless crowd rocking. Supernatural is a pure phenom on the freestyle. He never slips! Scratch is friggin’ brilliant with his sound effects and how he coordinates with a sampler on the mic. The brother rewrote the formula for a one-man band! With these two together it is a must see in a lifetime!
Man, there is too much to tell about Rock the Bells festival and who rocked it! You had to be there. If it is coming to your town you’ve got to be there! Twelve hours of real Hip Hop music. Say it out loud so you can hear it for yourself. Twelve hours of real Hip Hop music! ï¿½Does that sink into your starving ears?
You can’t ignore it. There ain’t nothing like real Hip Hop music for twelve hours live! It was dope!
The Pharcyde was back without missing a step after a decade apart. They still have that zany funk appeal and jovial energy with a new album on the way, too! It was dope!
Dead Prez was enjoyable and vigilant as always with their style of funk. It was dope!
Raekwon and Ghostface were spitting the classic grimy Wu joints the people love so much! Dope!
Red and Meth destroyed it meanwhile announcing the overly anticipated Blackout 2 on the way! Dope!
Rakim once again magnetized the massive on the microphone! Stuff of legendary proportions! Dope!
Finally, A Tribe Called Quest boomed back into the spotlight with the incredible filtered beats from their low end theory. On top of that, Q Tip has a solo album coming up, The Renaissance, and the rebirth began at Rock the Bells! It was Dope!
It was a twelve-hour celebration, and the family reunion ended on a high-spirited note from a successful day basking in the energy of some of Hip Hop’s best. When everybody said their good byes as they ended the night, we all went home with big bellies from a well-seasoned, spicy, home cooked meal. What else can you expect when eating with family on a hot Saturday afternoon?
Note: Due to the unforeseeable performance rescheduling, my interview with Immortal Technique had to be postponed. My apologies.