Rock The Bells Concert Review – 11.13.04 at Angel Stadium (Anaheim, CA)

Rock The Bells Presents: A Tribe Called Quest, parking lot of Angel Stadium, Anaheim, CA 11-13-04

I’ll admit to you, I missed half of this show. Meaning, sadly enough, that I missed performances from Jaylib, Little Brother, Supernatural(!), Self Scientific, and CMA. Needless to say I was a bit sour when I’d learned that 75% of the artists that I came to see had rocked and were probably somewhere getting head in a dark room. But that’s only because I hadn’t the slightest clue what kind of show I was about to witness. A show which I might venture to say…was better than head.

The remaining artists that were billed to perform were Cypress Hill, Jurassic 5, Xzibit, and A Tribe Called Quest (who were doing their first show on the west coast in six years).

When me and the homey Aquil first entered the spot we were excited but a bit frazzled from the two and a half hour crawl from L.A. to Anaheim. Not aided by the fact that when we got there a geriatric Cypress Hill were midway through some song that was obviously on some album after Black Sunday, since neither me or Aquil had ever heard of it.

Cypress Hill is one of those groups that make me feel f*cked up about hip-hop and what happens after an act catches on. They come from a time when all you really had to do was sound different and people caught on to you and responded by purchasing your records. DJ Muggs’ hyper beats B-Real’s nasal delivery and hypeman Sen Dogg’s hook-grunting made them enough of an anomaly to carry them through three platinum selling albums. One could tell, however, that by their third album Temple of Boom (and its lead single “Insane in the Brain”), that the only people who were still listening were middle class kids who caught on to the Hill in their all-about-the-weed days.

By that time, the rest of the rap audience had split down the middle. The people who wanted commercial rap leaned towards the Puff Daddy helmed club movement, and hip-hop purists followed rappers who were good enough at verbal gymnastics to hold their notoriously short attention spans. Leaving Cypress Hill to make rap-rock songs for college kids…

Now they end up opening for Xzibit. God it sucks to have been famous in 1993.

In honor of their legacy, Aquil stood in line for the port-o-potty while they performed.

After their time was up, Aquil and attempted to move closer to the stage. We parted through people until we hit a pocket of stubborn-shouldered fools who made it quite clear that we weren’t gonna break up their square. We dubbed them Fort D*ckhead.

We started our own personal freestyle cipher over the songs that the DJ was spinning in between acts. By the time that the DJ stopped we had drawn quite the crowd. Even a few of the grunts from the fort had abandoned their posts to listen to us spitâ?¦
As the host prepared to announce Jurassic 5, I started to realize that with them and Xzibit still left to rock before Tribe, we’d probably be standing for a whileâ?¦It ended up being a helluvalot longer than we thought, since there were a few surprises in storeâ?¦..good and bad.

The first let down came from the host at that moment. I had noticed during the break that not only had the DJ played a few more ODB songs than would be expected, they kept dedicating songs to him. All was made clear when the DJ informed those who hadn’t heard it earlier that Dirty had died that afternoon. I didn’t want to believe at first, but it made sense. For anyone that had seen his Vh-1 special earlier this year, it was clear that Dirty’s best days were probably behind him. But with the hope provided by a coherent ODB recording on the Neptune’s 2003 album Clones, I was convinced that the world would be treated to a return of Ol Dirt Schultz in rare form. Destiny, unfortunately, had decided otherwise.

The host did want to give us something special though. Something that could maybe balance the grief, pain, and anguish felt by all the broken hearted Dirty fans in the audience. His gift? The legendary Chino XLâ?¦

â?¦Chino XL? Yep, Chino XL, an above average rapper who’s debut album Here to Save You All was just unearthed by Phil Watts over at 411. An album that was held in great regard by most underground rap fans, but went mostly unnoticed by the mainstream audience (cue wicked laughter from Kwest the Madd Ladd)…

Chino is probably most known by the public for being a subject in the infamous rant at the end of Tupac’s “Hit ’em Up”, the scathing diss of Biggie released at the height of their beef. Pac was mad at Chino for a line in one of his songs where he said something along the lines of “getting f*cked like Tupac in jail”. In fact, there was a rumor floating around that Chino had been gunned down by an angry Pac fan.

Chino was here to kill the rumors, by jumping on stage and kicking some bogusly outdated punchlines that weren’t nearly as sick as he obviously thought they were. You know how a rapper pauses after a rhyme as if he’s waiting for an eruption of applause? Well he paused like thatâ?¦and didn’t even get a pity clap. I think he’s taking steroids and their destroying his mind. Either that or he’s spending more time in the gym than in the study…dude is like 250 lbs. now, and he’s got that whole Batista thing going on with his shoulders.

After the Chino debacle, we were ready for J5. Wait, everybody else was ready for J5, I was hoping that they’d missed their flight. I think they all suck monkey nuts except for Chali 2na. In retrospect, I actually found myself enjoying J5’s set, if not for the few songs they made that I have enjoyed over the years, for their two DJ’s (NuMark and the Cut Chemist) who are abso-f’n-lutely phenomenal. At one point in the show, one of them rocked a portable turntable around his neck, while the other rocked a portable sampler around his neck, and they danced around the stage while making a beat live in front of us. As a surprise they also brought out Bronx underground legend Percee P for a cameo appearance, he helped perform a song off of J5’s upcoming project.

Next up was Xzibit. Who I would also sleep well at night without hearing ever again. I haven’t really dug him since his debut At the Speed of Life. With more E-Swift production and guest spots from Ras Kass, Diamond D, Saafir, the Liks and others, it was more of a unique offering than some of his later releases which, as I was reminded during this show, all tend to sound like the same song done over and over again. The X to the Z was not to be outdone with surprises though. He had a couple of good and bad ones of his own. Let’s start with the not so great surprises:

Krondon, and the rest of X’s crew, the Strong Arm something or others. Now my buddy Aquil says Krondon is a decent MC, a fact that was neither proved or disproved on this evening as Kron always seemed to be holding the bad mic. But what no one including Aquil could deny, was that this dude id f*cking frightening. Far be it from me to make a judgment based on anyone’s appearance as I myself ain’t no Denzel, and no offense to any of the melanin deficient readers out there…but I never imagined in all my days that I’d be faced with having to struggle with the concept of a thugged-out albino. ’nuff said.

As for the good surprise, X stopped before the next selection to speak to the audience. He said that he’d been doing this next song for us for years, but without the track’s original rappers. He said that since they were at home in L.A. and Tribe could get it together to rock, there was no reason why him and his boys couldn’t get it together. At this point the crowd noise is rising as it dons on them what’s about to happen. Then…BOOM! The bass from the track hits and J-Ro and E-Swift fro, the Liks come out to rock with X on the anthem, “I’m an Alkaholik”! As a fan of mid-90’s hip-hop you couldn’t ask for more of a mark-out moment. And Tribe was still yet to come…

After X’s performance, the host informed us that there were some more guests that would come out and do a little ditty for us. Our next special performance?… That chick that plays the violin on all of Kanye’s joints. I forgot her name, but she was extra cute except for the way she jerks her head around like an asshole while she plays. If you’ve seen Twista’s video for “Overnight Celebrity”, then you know what I’m talking about. She went through her cadre of every rap song with a violin sample in it, and wowed the crowd with every new joint until the schtick began to wear thin. The only real letdown was that her hypeman was D-Stroy formerly of the Arsonists. Not only wasn’t I aware that The Arsonists had broke up, it was heart breaking, I mean f*cking heart shattering to see this dude be the second banana to a girl with a violin. I guess it sucks to have been famous in 1998, too. F*ckin rap fans have no institutional memory…

The next guests had certainly better be good. By now, we’d been here two hours and only Tribe would make us feel okay about not having feeling from the waist down.

The host grabbed to mic again to introduce us to one more guest before Tribe was ready to take the stage. While he was talking, some grimy looking dude with a busted fro was wandering around the stage. The host told him to go back out of the light until he could be properly introduced. The unknown vagrant turned out to be Fatlip, who along with Imani was here to represent for the F’n Pharcyde!!!

The host noted that we’d seen reunions of the Liks, and Tribe this evening, he asked the duo when we would see the Pharcyde get it together, Fatlip grabbed the mic and to the delight of the crowd, said “Right Now!”

Then the host took the mic back started talking about Tribe again, while the two Pharcyde members walked around the stage looking stupid for a minute because no one would give them a microphone… triumphant return indeed…

After another DJ interlude, with a hype man whose job couldn’t possibly have paid enough for the amount of verbal abuse he was taking from the crowd. It was time for Tribe!

This was a personal moment of joy for me, because I was convinced after they broke up that I was never going to have the chance to see them live. Well after six years, my moment had come. I was so happy that I was able to wiggle one of my toes.

The lights went low as the host finally announced…”A Tribe Called Quest”

…”I be the one man army A-son, I never been tooken out, I keep MC’s lookin’ out…”

It was the lyrics to Ol Dirty’s “Brooklyn Zoo”. The Tribe performed the song with the crowd of thousands with no beat in honor of the dirty one. If I could have felt my penis I would have ejaculated all over myself.

The lights come on and the bass line to buggin’ out begins. The crown goes buck stoopid.
They rip through a few of their lesser known recordings, still everyone in the crowd rapped along with every lyric. It was just something to see the four of them up there together. Four you ask? Yes, four…Jarobi was there. And as if this wasn’t enough of a high, Tribe had some surprises for us, too.

The first blast from the past…Special f’n Ed!

Unbelievable. Special Ed comes out and rips three classics to an audience that has excited itself comatose. Indescribable. I can’t believe I was trippin about forty bucks for this.

Next guest?….Brother J from X-Clan!!!!

Gottdammit, my heart can’t take it anymore. If someone bombed this place right now they’d take out 60% of my heroes. I want it to be over before anyone thinks about it.

Tribe gets back on and rips more favorites off of Midnight Marauders, Low End Theory and their other records. Then guess who saunters onto the stage?

Mos Def’s stankin’ass…

Even though his last record stinks to high heaven, he’s still a decent personality, so he rocked his wack-ass songs in his own special way. In other words, it was good to see him.

Tribe gets back on, they rock “Electric Relaxation”, “Oh My God”, “Jazz”, “Find A Way”, “Scenario”, “Keep it Rolling”, and “Award Tour” in rapid succession. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.

They ended their by bidding us farewell over the beat to my favorite Tribe song, “God Lives Through”. I couldn’t have asked for too much more than that.

Me and Aquil walked around til we found some fellow MC’s and rocked a cipher til they kicked us out of the parking lot.

R.I.P. Ol Dirty