Yesterday (September 7), Rock the Bells kicked off its first day in San Bernardino, California with performances from Black Hippy, Common and Kid Cudi. The festival also featured a hologram-like virtual performance of Eazy-E during Bone thugs-n-harmony’s set. When the virtual performance was announced, Rock the Bells organizer, Guerilla Union’s Chang Weisberg, spoke about the plans.

“I’ve talked to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Tomica Wright,” Weisberg said in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX in June. “I shared with them the vision and the knowledge and it was after those discussions that they entrusted me with the responsibility.”

The performance also marked one of Layzie Bone’s final showings with the group following his decision to step away from Bone thugs-n-harmony. Layzie has announced that he will no longer be a member of the group after fulfilling obligations. Recently, Krayzie Bone spoke about Layzie’s decision to step down from the crew.

“It is what it is,” Krayzie said in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “He has his reasons. We’re still going to support him and everything he does. He’s actually going to be performing with us at Rock The Bells. I guess he needs to step away because there are some things he wants to do as a man, and as men, we can’t do nothing but respect that. We’re going to continue as a team and keep moving forward with this grind.”

A video of the hologram-like performance of Eazy-E can be seen below via Revolt

Black Hippy & Kid Cudi Close Rock The Bells’ Day 1

Kid Cudi closed Rock the Bells on the main stage after a showing from Black Hippy. The TDE crew performed individual cuts with a surprise appearance from Danny Brown during Ab-Soul’s portion of the show. Kendrick Lamar ended Black Hippy’s set, thanking the Southern California crowd for continued support.

Cudi’s set included selections from his Man on the Moon series of albums and from his last effort, Indicud. Following his performance, Cudi thanked fans via Twitter. 

Brother Ali Comments On Rock The Bells’ Diversity

The festival’s Day 1 lineup also featured artists from various regions and generations, a theme that can be found throughout the Rock the Bells run, which is slated for three more stops in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York. 

“It’s dope,” said Brother Ali, who performed on Rock the Bells’ HipHopDX stage. “It’s such an important thing that we don’t make the same mistake that was made in Rock and Jazz and other types of music before, where they were created as folk art forms and then the industry came and fractioned them up, sectioned them off into different fanbases. I think it’s really important within Hip Hop that we understand that we all are under the strata of Hip Hop. That’s one of the things I love about Rock the Bells…That you really get to see a sample of all that Hip Hop has to offer.” 

While a diverse line-up can be found on Rock the Bells, Ali noted that many festivals, including this one, can do more to include women and GLBT rappers. 

“There are GLBT rappers out here killin’ the mic, doin’ their thing,” Brother Ali said in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “They rap how they live, how they talk, how they express and how they feel. That’s missing. I’d like to see more women on [festival line-ups also]. I’d love to see more women on those stages, but I think overall, in general, they’re doing a good job of uniting all the branches on the Hip Hop tree.” 

When Rock the Bells’ lineup was announced, Weisberg spoke of the diversity on the bill, which includes Snow Tha Product, Rapsody & 9th Wonder and The Internet. Weisberg specifically spoke about artists who come from different generations. 

“We have curated a multi-generational line-up that includes the best and brightest artists in the genre,” Weisberg said in a press statement. “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 will continue today (September 8) at San Manuel Amphitheater. J. Cole, Juicy J and Rakim are slated to perform on the event’s second day in San Bernardino, while Wu-Tang Clan is scheduled to close the main stage with a hologram-like virtual performance of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in their set. 

Rock The Bells Photographs Featuring Tech N9ne, Big K.R.I.T., Pusha T & Earl Sweatshirt 

Photography By Adam Stanzak for HipHopDX can be found below.