When Rock the Bells sets up in San Bernardino this fall, the traveling hip-hop festival will feature two of hip-hop’s most revered – and dead – voices: Wu-Tang Clan’s uproarious fallen member Ol’ Dirty Bastard and godfather of gangsta rap Eazy-E.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival, which kicks off in San Bernardino on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, announced the bill would feature younger rhyme-slayers like Big Krit, Danny Brown and Tyler the Creator, agile voices like Rakim, Common, E-40 and Too Short – and "original virtual performances" (as it's being billed) by Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E.
Chang Weisberg, founder of the Pomona-based concert promotions and marketing firm Guerilla Union, which curates the festival, announced the lineup Tuesday night.
Weisberg said he wanted to take a cue from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s Coachella performance when the pair reincarnated slain West Coast superstar Tupac Shakur in a hologram-like image that rapped and danced along with them during their headlining performance last year. He revealed the annual traveling festival planned to pay tribute to Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E, who died in 2004 and 1995, respectively, with the digital performances.
ODB will “perform” alongside Wu-Tang Clan, who reunited in full to mark the 20th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” with a performance at Coachella in April and an album slated for later this year.
Eazy-E’s “appearance” will come during a performance from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who broke the Cleveland hip-hop group back in the early '90s. Bone Thugs reunited for the first time in more than 20 years at last year’s festival. Speaking of reunions of vintage acts, Jurassic 5, who recently banded together to play Coachella, will also hit the stage.
Nostalgia has long played a critical role in the festival that hits four cities on the West and East Coasts in the fall.
For years the festival devoted headlining slots to veteran lyricists performing seminal albums in their entirety (Lauryn Hill, Nas, Cypress Hill, Slick Rick and Wu-Tang Clan have all performed classic works). Recent lineups have shown the festival deftly straddling old school with buzzy upstarts and current chart-toppers.
Tyler the Creator’s Odd Future brethren Earl Sweatshirt is on the bill, along with Kid Cudi, Hit Boy and rap supergroup Black Hippy, whose most famous member, Kendrick Lamar, became one of the biggest breakouts in West Coast rap in recent years.
Rock the Bells will also travel to Mountain View, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; and wrap in Rutherford, N.J., in October.
A pre-sale is set for Thursday at 10 a.m., with tickets going on sale to the general public Saturday. The full lineup and ticket info can be found at RockTheBells.net.
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