For whom the bell rocked: Too much turned up


Three to five years ago, the most popular phrase at Rock the Bells was “Rest in peace J Dilla.” This year, it was “Let’s get turned up!” The difference between the two shout-outs exhibits the festival’s progression from underground/old-school hip-hop gathering to a way more genre-expansive festival.

This year included stalwart acts that you would have seen at Rock the Bells 2004, 2005, and 2007 such as the Wu Tang Clan, TechNine, and Deltron 3030. But rappers like Juicy J, Riff Raff, and Trinidad James would have been ridiculed for not being “real hip-hop” enough in past years. This year’s eclectic and diverse cast was a reassuring reminder that hip-hop is not dead and that the music coming out in 2013 is just as worthy as that of any other era. Read more »

For whom the bell rocks: hologram rap edition


This year’s Rock The Bells really is the Costco of hip-hop festivals. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the hip-hop world (plus some dead rappers) will be at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater this weekend. There is literally something for every kind of hip-hop fan out there, with more artists packed into those two days than weed in a Juicy J blunt.

Perennial RTB performers Wu-Tang Clan, Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick, Rakim, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and KRS-ONE will holding it down for the old school. Meme-rap stars Riff Raff, Danny Brown, and Trinidad James will bring their WTF-brands of rap. On the rise Brooklyn youngsters Flatbush Zombies and Joey Bada$$ will be present.

And even though the backpack era is over, mid-aughts underground luminaries such as Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Brother Ali, and Tech Nine will transport you back to a not so distant 2005. Headliners Kid Cudi, the entire A$AP and Black Hippy crews, hyphy super duo E-40/Too $hort, and Girl Talk (who might throw down a more hip-hop influenced set) will cap off the long weekend. Read more »

7 dead musicians who should never be hologramized


Did Tupac's ghostly appearance during last night's Dr. Dre stunner at Coachella pry open the hell-mouth of a future Rock and Roll Hologram of Fame? Last night "opens the gate for marketing revival concerts of deceased celebrities" exclaims one press release flooding our inbox, offering experts to comment on, "How might labels explore the potential for bringing back popular deceased artists?" (Nevermind that they've been doing this with Elvis for years -- warning, Celine Dion duet.)

Naturally, this prospect strikes terror in our hearts when it comes to certain sleeping dogs who should probably lie. First of all: musical hologram resurrections bring us technologically one step closer to the nightmare of zombie Beethoven roaming unleashed upon this Earth. Second, greedy dying music industry executives may pounce on major back catalogue royalty opportunities (Happy 50th, Rolling Stones and Happy 50th, Ian Mackaye!) by beaming the following, completely inappropriate dead rock stars into a venue near you. Dear David Geffen, No. 

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