Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Rock the Bells - Atlanta feat. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah & Mobb Deep 15/09/11

Raekwon: Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic)
Raekwon: Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Mobb Deep: Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic) Rock the Bells - Atlanta 15/09/11 (Photos DJ Blak Magic)

Thurs., Sept. 15, 2011 in Atlanta is a two-and-a-half hour trip back to 1995 all over again â a simpler time full of guts from Phillie Titan cigars blowinâ in the wind, semi-laced Timberland boots stompinâ across the pavement, BETâs Rap City on the cable airwaves in the afternoon and Triple F.A.T. Goose coats trimmed in fur around the hood.

Of course, you gotta have an accompanying soundtrack for the generation. East Coast hip hop luminaries Raekwon and Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan along with Mobb Deep headlined the Rock The Bells Festival at The Tabernacle. Hosted by ultra-sonic gargantuan hype man and âmouth of the Southâ Fort Knox, his energy on stage is always enough to overpower any amplifier. It was definitely one of the chilliest nights Atlanta had seen in a hot second, but there was definitely a lot of heat blarinâ out the speakers and from the audienceâs chain-smoking.

Backed by producer The Alchemist on the ones and twos, Havoc and Prodigy open the show with their signature grimy and rugged sounds layered over dark âround the block lyrics amidst a blanket of marijuana smoke clouds. The Queens, NY-based duo performed the bulk of their 1995 hip hop classic, The Infamous: opening with âSurvival of the Fittestâ and time travelinâ through favorites such as âGive Up the Goods (Just Step),â âRight Back at Youâ and âShook Ones Pt. II:â gracing the stage with a wall-to-wall entourage and the Hennessy bottles to match. However, the rowdy crowd provided the weakest elements: spending the previous half hour jeering at opening act, Tommy Nova; throwing a t-shirt back on stage and more swears at him than someone desperate on death row. Still, The Alchemist proclaims before the audience that Havoc is âone of the illest to ever touch a drum machineâ and Prodigy is âone of the illest MCs.â

Barely a packed house until later in the evening, Raekwon the Chef; Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna â festival pioneers since its 2004 inception -- takes the stage around 10 p.m. The Tabernacle literally became the house that Wu-[Tang] built. Amidst the stronger aroma of potent pot and Black & Mild fumes over the floor tiles of Heineken bottles and Budweiser cans, Staten Island, NYâs hip hop icons ensured everyone in the crowd was on their feet and taken back to the days of baggy Tommy Hilfiger denim and Starter jackets tagged with the greatest American sports franchises. Admitting they often donât know what songs to perform from their immense catalogue, Rae and Ghost opened with a few cuts from the epic âpurple tapeâ collection, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.

As the multiethnic and multiracial audience makes the âWâ hand gestures and chants âWU-TANG,â all you hear is the boom-bap snares of âIncarcerated Scarfaces,â âIce Cream,â âVerbal Intercourseâ and âCriminologyâ ring out. From there, the next hour-and-a-half becomes a retrospective of Wu-Tang classics: âCamay,â âCan It All Be So Simple,â âNutmeg,â âWu-Tang Clan Ainât Nuthing ta F**k Wit,â âShimmy Shimmy Ya,â âTriumph,â âDaytona 500,â âCherchez LaGhostâ and âC.R.E.A.M.â In an unexpected shift of direction (really catching the bulk of the audience off guard but circulated via Twitter), Tity Boi aka 2 Chainz â introduced by Rae himself -- performs his bounce-laden Drumma Boy-produced banger, âSpend It.â
Sure, hip hop fans and younger audiences may never get to experience such a time capsule like this in the extreme hypervisual forms I was fortunate enough to see in 1995, but Rock the Bells â regardless of how big or small â is affirmation that Golden Eras of Hip Hop are alive and kickingâ!

Photos: DJ Blak Magic
Words Christopher Daniel

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