Q-Tip and Phife Dawg reunite on stage at 2004 Rock The Bells (Photo: BallerStatus.com / file)
Quality hip-hop in the OC? As though it sounds like quite the oxymoron, this was actually a synonym on Saturday (November 13) at the Anaheim Angels stadium parking lot for Guerilla Union's Rock The Bells event. Yes, hip-hop was very much visible everywhere you looked. Whether it was the posters that street teams had posted up, the baggy jeans, the hats to the side, the shirts with group logos, or even the tagging inside the portable restrooms ... hip-hop was quite visible.
And aside from Fox's portrayal of Orange County, through their show "The OC" and MTV's "Laguna Beach," a scene of predominantly white, rich kids being the audience was not the case. In fact, one glance, and a stream of diversity was visible throughout the thousands in attendance. On a chilly winter afternoon, this crowd was on hand to witness a reunion of one of hip hop's most influential outfits, A Tribe Called Quest.
After re-uniting all nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan for a concert only months before, the staff over at Guerilla Union set out to do the impossible, again, by re-uniting ATCQ that reigned heavily in the mid-90's golden era.
With a supporting bill of acts that included Little Brother, Jaylib, Supernatural, Self Scientific, DJ Revolution, and others, holding their respective ground, the tone was set for the heavyweights to make their way to the stage. However, during DJ Revolution's set, Mr. Chocc (Power 106/Fantastik 4our Show) broke the horrifying news that ODB had passed away, after a moment of silence though, Chocc reminded the crowd "it's still Wu-Tang forever, motherf***ers" and the crowd agreed.
The show went on and the first big act to grab hold of the mic was Cypress Hill. Backed by DJ Muggs on the turntables, a live drum kit and a bongo player, Sen Dog and B-Real let a few guitar chords play on before B-Real jumped in front of the crowd and quickly displayed his veteran skills of rocking shows, along with Sen Dog. Getting the crowd amped with anthems like "Kill A Man," "Insane In The Brain," and cuts off their latest album, Cypress definitely moved the crowd with their stage presence and well-executed routine.
Jurassic 5 then picked up where Cypress left off as Akil, Zaakir, Chali 2na, Marc Seven and DJ's Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist upped the ante a notch higher. Performing their underground smashes and their more radio-known hits such as "Influence," "Quality Control," up to their latest banger "What's Golden." This was also said to be J5's last live performance before their new album drops.
The West Coast stayed reppin', as X to the Z stormed onto the sage with his Strong Arm Steady Gang (Krondon, Phil Da Agony and Mitchy Slick) dressed in khaki jail-uniform-like jumpsuits. Xzibit kept the crowd at his grasp, going through such energy wrenching cuts as his Dr. Dre produced "X," his verse on "What's The Difference," "Multiply," "Paparazzi," and up to his current banger, "Hey Now (Mean Muggin')."
And just before the grand finale, the sexy red head violinist that was seen on Twista and Kanye's "Overnight Celebrity," Ms. Miri Ben-Ari made a special and unforgettable appearance. With a violin in hand, a hype man introducing her, and various instrumentals playing one after another, Miri followed the melody of some of the most recognizable hip-hop records both past and present, all with her own violin strumming. Leaving the crowd in a frenzy, Miri played the notes to such hits as Terror Squad's "Lean Back", Dr. Dre's "Next Episode", Biggie's "One More Chance (Remix)" and of course her "Overnight Celebrity" smash among countless others. Miri left the crowd in awe with her string manipulation and added a classic moment to an unforgettable night.
And though it was rumored that Kanye West was in the house and was going to perform, nothing came of it and the headliners walked up to the stage to make their magic happen. The four original members of Tribe gathered on stage, shook hands/hugged and after that, it was nothing but business. Maneuvering through their five album catalogue of classics including "Check the Rhime" to the colossal "Award Tour," the Tribe kept the original flavor of these songs and making it seem like these were tracks that they just recorded, with the same fun and energy as the originals.
After each Ali Shaheed Muhammed production gem echoed through the roaring system, one couldn't help but feel the thumping sounds of his bass line-driven beats, while Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and company commanded the microphone with their memorable quotables. Rounding out the show were such gems as "Bonita Applebum," and the love ode "Find A Way." With Tribe rocking like they were still fresh in the game, it sets the tempo for the already high anticipation of their reunion album.
So with well over 5,000 heads being treated to a hip-hop spectacle, the bells were definitely rocked, and though the tragic news of ODB's passing was fresh in everyone's mind, Ol' Dirty's spirit was definitely in effect as hip-hop was celebrated and some great performances were captured on this night. Rock, rock on...