The 3rd and final leg of the Rock the Bells festival came to NJ for the first time last week and (of course) it was epic. Each hip hop artist hit the stage with full force, even after an impromptu thunderstorm forced fans to run for cover into a packed amphitheater. Something about all that energy in one place made for a monumental experience. There was a rush of excitement, anticipation and of course a shit ton a weed in the air. If you were in the amphitheater during any of the sets you were automatically catching contact.
HMJ covered both Rock The Bells in California and the vibe on the east coast was noticeably different. The west is much more laid back while the east is in your face. (FYI: I’m a native Jersey girl so I can say that.) All in all it was a great show though. Headliners DMX & Eve, Nas, J Cole, Method Man & Redman, Ice Cube and more all gave their fans exactly what they came for… a mother fucking show! Even though there were a lot of veterans on the line up, artists like 2 Chainz, Curren$y and Action Bronson had the crowd amped, demanding participation. The biggest moment of the weekend (for me) had to be when Nas brought out Ms. Lauryn Hill to perform “If I Ruled The World”, followed by her own set of classics.
While the Paid Dues stage was a bit smaller than previous locations that didn’t stop artists like Ice Cube, Murs & Fashawn, and Naughty by Nature from drawing in a packed crowd. Each member of Slaughterhouse, Wu Block and Dipset brought a certain dynamism to the stage that only a group of emcee’s can bring. A lot of artists paid tribute to the late great Chris Lighty during their performances as well. The infamous music mogol, who contributed to many artists’ careers, passed away the previous week making Rock the Bells a celebration of his life.
It was a great feeling seeing people in the crowd rocking their HailMaryJane stickers and showing us mad love throughout the weekend. Be on the look out for NJ interviews with Eve, Immortal Technique, Vinny of Naughty By Nature and Slaughterhouse coming to HMJ soon! Check out the gallery for some great performance shots and fans reppin’ HMJ. Special shout out to Guerilla Union for putting on 3 tremendous shows!