Rock The Bells In Review
A few months ago I wrote a post about my disillusionment with hip-hop. I was desperately hoping that my love, which was on life support at the time, could be revived. As hip-hop lay dying on the operating table I prayed that Dr. Q-Tip and A Tribe Called Quest could resuscitate my loved one. As I watched her lay in a feeble position I wondered if putting her in the 36th chamber with Wu-Tang Clan could liven her up. But I thought ODB might scare her and give her a heart attack. She needed something softer and more melodic, because the current state of music was killing her softly. Then I realized that L-Boogie aka Lauryn Hill could teach her about the Miseducation of the rap game, and why she is an not an ex-factor, but the x factor. Unfortunately, Ms. Lauryn Hill was missing that thing (flow, harmony, delivery, and coherence).
This past weekend I attended the Rock the Bells concert in Washington D.C. Since 2004 Rock The Bells concert series have been exciting audiences all over the country with the prospects of seeing hip-hop’s classic artist all rip the same stage. Other than an old Rap City episode it is rare to find KRS One, Rakim, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill, and Snoop Dogg all rocking the same venue. Although my ticket was paid in full I felt like I needed electric relaxation to kick it because the concert was everything but a g thing.
A Tribe Called Quest brought it back to the days of backpacks and high-top fades with their funny, yet rhythmically funky lyrics. When Bonita Applebum dropped the crowd went wild. Black, White, and all in between were bobbing their heads to the classic Midnight Marauders album. Q-Tip was so dedicated to his audience that he took his baggy pants off, (which were falling down) and just performed in his boxers and undershirt. Indspectah deck of the Wu Tang Clan even performed after having lost his mother just a few hours before the performance. Wu Tang also murdered the stage. When C.R.E.A.M. came on you would have thought people were worshipping U.S. currency. As Method Man, The RZA, The GZA, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Raekwon, & Boy Jones (ODB’s son) went on their vocal rants, the crowd got hype. During ODB’s tribute, Boy Jones (who is a spitting image of his father) killed the Shimmy Shimmy Ya song. At times I wondered if ODB had even passed a way at all. His son had his voice, stlye and crazy antics down to a tee.
Unfortunately, even Wu-Tang and A Tribe Called Quest’s performance couldn’t save the day. Truth be told, I was really there to see the multi-dimensional, multi-talented Lauryn Hill. However, Lauryn Hill let me down more then Glenn Beck at an NAACP convention. In fact, Lauryn Hill’s performance was so awful and confusing that I felt miseducated. Her band was off beat and the accompaniment was not all that. At times she seemed lost and disturbed. Her vocals were shot. Although I could faintly recognize the sultry emcee from the Fugees, her band arranged all of her most popular songs in an unrecognizable way. I felt like I was listening to Lil’ Wayne’s Rebirth album. Yes, it was that bad. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the Baltimore Sun had to say:
To her credit, Hill came out ripping, which she does extremely well. (Hill is considered one of the greatest female emcees of all time. And for good reason. He delivery, speed, and lyrics have always struck a chord with fans.) Her singing — on the other hand– wasn’t striking anything. Her voice was noticeably horse. Her band drowned her out in a number of spots during her brief stage time. Her background singers didn’t do anything noteworthy. The arrangement of her music made many of her songs unrecognizable, and there were feedback issues to boot.
The Doggfather himself closed out the show. Although I’m generally cool with Snoop Dogg, his women dissing rhymes didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the show. Also, his all blue bandana jump suit would even make some Crips embarrassed to claim him. His cool laid back presence definitely brought a different edge to the concert; I just don’t think the uber-misogynistic album Doggystyle was the right way to go. If Rock the Bells can’t save hip-hop who can?