In an epic homecoming for New York emcees, Rock The Bells New York at Jones Beach Amphitheater proved to be unforgettable.
After early sets from the bills, the evening gave way to the New York tradition of special guests. Mos Def was joined by Talib Kweli for a series of Black Star songs including “Definition,” “Respiration” and “Brown Skin Lady.” The Rawkus Records alumni made their cipher complete with Pharoahe Monch joining former label-mates on stage for a boisterous performance of “Simon Says.”
Next up, Method Man and Redman ran through a classic set of solo and collaborative material. Slick Rick joined his Def Jam proteges briefly for a partial performance of “La Di Da Di,” largely assisted by the crowd. After Raekwon, who performed earlier with Ghostface returned to the stage, EPMD followed, performing “Strictly Business” and “So What Cha Saying.” Washington DC’s DJ Kool entered the set, performing “Let Me Clear My Throat,” the 1996 club sensation based off of 45 King‘s classic “900 Number” breakbeat. Upon the set closing, Keith Murray completed the Def Squad triad with a performance, without Sermon at the time, of “Rapper’s Delight.”
Of special guests, the largest crowd reaction came from Nas speaking to the crowd about how he needs to “breathe.” Repeating the word, DJ Green Lantern played the instrumental to “Success,” prompting a Yankee-cap tucked low Jay-Z to rush on the stage nestled at the banks of the bay, and perform his first verse. After erupting applause, the two then performed “Black Republicans.” [click to watch]
Nas‘ stage show included a five-piece band, joined by the deejay, which interpolated compositions such as “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “New York State of Mind,” and “N.I.G.G.E.R.”
A Tribe Called Quest headlined the night joined by luminaries such as Busta Rhymes on “Scenario” as well as Consequence.
Other guests aside from billed Rock The Bells performers included DJ Premier, M.O.P., Jeru Da Damaja, Biz Markie, Skyzoo, MIckey Factz and others.
Stay tuned for more Rock The Bells news, features and exclusive audio from the tour’s official Hip Hop media partner, HipHopDX.