Yesterday (September 8), Rock the Bells closed the first of its four weekend-long festivals with performances from the Wu-Tang Clan, J. Cole, Dilated Peoples and Juicy J, among others, in San Bernardino, California. This followed the event's first day, which featured performances from various acts, including Bone thugs-n-harmony, Big K.R.I.T., Brother Ali, Immortal Technique and Pusha T.
Day 2 featured several acts on three stages. Iamsu, Rapsody & 9th Wonder, Hopsin, Dilated Peoples, Dom Kennedy and A$AP Mob were among those who performed on the Main Stage. Meanwhile, Freeway, Joey Bada$$ with Pro Era and Lecrae were among those who set the crowd up for Rakim on the 36 Chambers stage. Over on the Guerilla Union stage, The Internet, Slick Rick & Dougie Fresh, E-40 & Too Short and Juicy J were among the artists who performed.
Juicy J Thanks Fans At Rock The Bells After Performance
Juicy J also brought a surprise guest to the show as he treated fans with an appearance from A$AP Rocky. Rocky visited Juicy J soon after performing with A$AP Mob. Juicy J tweeted about the appearance and posted an image of himself at the festival on Instagram.
S/O to @asvpxrocky for joining me on stage tonite at rock the bells , the crowd went crazy
J. Cole & Wu-Tang Clan Close Rock The Bells' Main Stage
Day 2 of the event also featured J. Cole's work with a band acting as his musical support. Cole performed several selections from his discography, including recent cuts from his Born Sinner album, "Villuminati," "Crooked Smile" and "Power Trip." During the set, Cole also said that he created a "West Coast classic," speaking about "Work Out."
Cole's performance was the lead-up to Wu-Tang Clan's showing, the night's most-discussed set.
The Wu-Tang Clan performance, which did not include appearances by Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, also featured several technical difficulties. Rock the Bells spoke with HipHopDX about the technical issues.
Guerilla Union Addresses Wu-Tang Clan's Technical Difficulties
"Unfortunately, the audio problems with Wu-Tang's set last night were the result of an equipment failure," Guerilla Union/Rock the Bells' Chang Weisberg said in an exclusive statement to HipHopDX. "[Wu-Tang Clan deejay, Mathematics'] computer crashed in the middle of their performance. Fortunately, the scheduled holographic return of ODB was able to buy enough time for Mathematics to re-boot his computer and finish the show. No one is more disappointed than myself and Wu-Tang Clan that this happened because we all wanted this to be their crowning moment and pay homage to ODB and his family."
A portion of the performance, which includes the unveiling of the Ol' Dirty Bastard hologram, can be seen below via Miami Bass FM.
Method Man and Weisberg have both expressed that all of the issues surrounding last night's performance should not be expected in forthcoming Rock the Bells dates, though no official word has been made regarding the whereabouts of Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. Still, during Wu-Tang's final seconds on stage yesterday, Method Man was vocal about having better performances moving forward.
"Once again, y'all, we'd like to thank everybody for celebrating our twentieth anniversary with us," Method Man said. "I wish Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface could have been here to see this shit. Also, regardless of the technical difficulties, y'all showed a lot of heart by sticking around and I respect y'all for that. I promise you, you will never see a fuckin' show like this again from us. Trust me."
Dilated Peoples Celebrate Diversity & Unity At Rock The Bells
Beyond the performances, artists were also able to support acts from various generations. Dilated Peoples' Rakaa Iriscience spoke about the multi-generational line-up.
"Something like this allows artists to really be artists and not have to be product at that particular time, even though there's a part of that that goes down, but that's one of the strengths of this particular festival," Rakaa Iriscience said in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "It's a mix, and it's not just like, 'Today's Old School day.' They're mixing everything."
That is something Guerilla Union's Chang Weisberg spoke about in a press release upon the line-up's announcement.
"We have curated a multi-generational line-up that includes the best and brightest artists in the genre," Weisberg said. "It is not just great Hip Hop music. It's great music, period. It's a collection of artists who represent, respect and recognize everything that Rock The Bells...has accomplished in its storied history.”
Rock the Bells is slated to continue September 14 and 15 in San Francisco before hitting Washington D.C. September 28 and 29 and New York October 4 and 5.
Photographs Of J. Cole, Dilated Peoples, Funk Volume, Rapsody, 9th Wonder & More At Rock The Bells
Photography By Andres Tardio For HipHopDX can be found below.