Rock the Bells Day 2 Recap: Nas, Lauren Hill, Slaughterhouse, Common and More…
The second day of the festival was met with cloudy weather, but that didn’t deter fans from returning to New Jersey for the conclusion of this year’s Rock the Bells. 12oz got to PNC Bank Arts Center just in time for Slaughterhouse, where Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Joe Budden, and Royce da 5’9” performed “Sound Off”, “Frat House” “Microphone”, and “Hammer Dance”, among other hits. They also bumped their verses from the Shady 2.0 BET Cypher, before switching it up on the audience. They broke out into song and dance to Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’”, with Budden getting caught up in the moment, falling to the floor and continuing to serenade the crowd.
Common blessed the main stage next, running onstage to “Get ‘Em High”. The Chicago MC, sporting a Muhammad Ali tee, went on to “The People”, “Be”, “They Say”, and “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. Com then paid his respects to hip hop as his DJ played some of rap’s gems, including “Shook Ones Part II”, “Whoa”, and “Hip Hop Hooray”, while he rapped along. A true emcee, Common freestyled a cappella, dropping bars as the crowd looked on with veneration.
During Common’s set, it had started to pour. While the main stage and patron seating was housed under a roof, the Paid Dues stage got drenched. Immortal Technique’s set was cancelled, but he made it to the main stage and rocked with the crowd with nothing but a microphone, respect! The crowd was amped up as J Cole came on. Cole World fans were in full affect as the Roc Nation artist bumped “Who Dat”, “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Higher”, and the Drake-assisted “In the Morning”.
Before the man of the evening, Nasir Jones, took the stage, event staff hustled to put together the Queens MC’s elaborate set, including a backdrop of his Queensbridge housing projects that encompassed the full length of the stage. With a catalogue that spans 18 years, Nas balanced his old with the new, performing hits that included “The Don”, “N.Y. State of Mind”, “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”, “Represent”, “Bye Baby”, “Hate Me Now” and “Daughters”. Throughout his set, he brought out old homies Large Professor and Scarface for their respective collabs. But the biggest surprise of the evening happened as “If I Ruled the World” echoed through the speakers, and Ms. Lauryn Hill came out and crooned her part.
Hill went on to perform more of her hits, from “Lost Ones”, and “Fu-Gee-La” to “Ready or Not” and “That Thing”. Taking a cue from other rap veterans that performed over the weekend, she dropped a freestyle over Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis”. Props to the staff at Guerilla Union for putting together hip hop’s finest under one roof yet again. Until next year!
Photo & Text: Steven Lau