Concert Review: Rock The Bells – Second Stage

If you’re not familiar with Rock The Bells by now, you should probably consider finding a way to hurt yourself. Seriously. On Sunday, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Common, The Roots and several others made their way to the DMV for what can only be described as “THE GREATEST F*CKIN SHOW ON EARTH!” Doors opened at 11am, show ended at 11pm. Twelve hours, nothing but hip hop. For the second straight year, I found myself on the verge of “one-ing” myself, Se7en style. Admittedly, this year’s line up was not as good as last year’s but, any time you have the opportunity to see The Roots perform as well as M.O.P on the same day, you’ve been blessed.

The smaller (in scope, but definitely not in talent) second stage featured acts Slum Village, Raekwon, M.O.P., Buckshot, Slaughterhouse, Rza and Evidence & Alchemist. My only complaint with this years show was that the acts on the second stage rivaled the main stage artists. At one point you had Raekwon on the second stage during The Roots’ performance on the main stage. How do you choose between “Next Movement” and “Incarcerated Scarfaces”??!! Regardless of who performed on any stage, the performances were nothing short of incredible. Mickey Factz opened the second stage and though most people maybe familiar with Mickey from the Honda commercials, the GFC member has been grinding for the past couple of years and his short opening set proved to be the fruits of his labor.

DC’s own, Tabi Bonney made his RTB’s debut running through a few tracks from his fairly new but impressive catalog.  Highlights included the DC anthem “Beat Rock”, and his latest single “Rich Kids”. The best show on the second stage, however, belonged to M.O.P. The Brooklyn natives sent the crowd into a complete frenzy. I swear Lil Fame and Billy Danze have to be on the later side of 40, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t perform with the vigor of two teenage boys.

That’s when it really dawned on me that M.O.P. doesn’t make hip hop records, they make anthems.

Their performance of “How About Some Hardcore”, “4 Alarm Blaze” “Cold As Ice” “Downtown Swinga”  and of course “Ante Up” were all evidence of that. But crowd participation didn’t end with M.O.P., chaos ensued when the horns began to play on Black Moon’s “I Got Cha Opin” allowing Buckshot to run through his classic material; “Who Got Da Props” and “How Many MCs”. With Pete Rock working the 1’s and 2’s. Even Slum Village was able to get the crowd a little hype; performing a couple classics of their own, “Fall in Love” and “Selfish” .

Though M.O.P was the real climax for me, I was eager to see what Slaughterhouse had in store. The collective, consisting of Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’9″, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, have had the internet in their clutches since the four guys clicked up to form the “supergroup”. They certainly didn’t disappoint. What they lacked in stage presence, they definitely made up in lyrical ability. Joe Budden, whose girlfriend’s ass might easily eclipse the popularity of the group, kept the crowd involved and the set moving. The group that’s been dubbed “The New Wu-Tang” showed out in front of a crowd of diehard Slaughterhouse fans.

Speaking of Wu Tang, by now you’ve probably heard about Inspektah Deck’s on stage declaration that followed shortly after Slaughterhouse left the stage. But despite Inspektah Deck’s comments, when Rae and Rza took the stage, the real focal point was the music and not so-called “beef”. It was definitely kind of awkward to see Rae perform tracks from Only Built For Cuban Linx without Ghostface, but hearing “Criminology” and “Incarcerated Scarfaces” live is magical nonetheless. Rae even promised Only Built For Cuban Linx Part 2 will finally see the light of day this September. I’m still not holding my breath. Inspektah Deck even “bombed atomically…” knocking off the dust to perform one of the most well known Wu verses of all time from the classic”Truimph”. Not only did Rza stumble out on stage with a bottle of Grey Goose, he was also accompanied by one of ODB’s many children, Boy Jones. Let’s just say, “Like Father, Like Son” (No weezy).

Overall, the acts on this stage played “second” to no one. Great performances from great artists.