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Nas, Lauryn Hill Will Headline at Rock the Bells Festival

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For years the Rock the Bells Festival has become known for its eclectic mix of hip-hop performances, and this year’s will be no exception. Nas, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Mobb Deep and Black Star are just some of the acts billed to hit the stage at this year’s festival, which will kick off in mid-August.

Many of the performers will focus on one of their pivotal albums rather than running through their entire catalog. Nas will perform all of the songs from his iconic ‘Illmatic’ debut, bringing along special guests AZ, Pete Rock and DJ Premier; Hill will run through her multi-Grammy winning ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ album, while Mobb Deep will perform from ‘The Infamous’ album, originally released in 1995. “It’s going to be a lot of energy,” Mobb Deep’s Havoc tells the Boombox. “From start to finish it’s going to be a lot of energy. It’s going to be crazy from start to finish. We going to do everything on the album, so when I say ‘everything’ just listen to the album.”

Unlike previous years, the 2011 Rock the Bells tour will be scaled down to select locations including San Bernardino, Calif. and New York City. “That’s a serious chunk of hip-hop history,” said festival founder Chang Weisberg, of the line-up. “We have a partnership with the House of Blues to produce 150 shows within the next 18 months and these will be a more intimate Rock the Bells experience. Unfortunately, a festival as large as Rock the Bells, the audience is just not there to do 30 or 40 festivals. There’s one Lollapalooza, there’s one Bonnaroo, there’s one Coachella. The most important thing is not that there’s one Rock the Bells Festival it’s a platform to support quality music.”

This year there will also feature three separate stages, the main Rock the Bells Stage, the Paid Dues stage and the new 36-Chambers Stage curated by the RZA, for up-and-coming acts. Additionally, a fourth stage will be added to specific markets featuring battle-style performances.

“The reason why we kept the 36-Chamber stage is not only to show the musicality of hip-hop but 36-Chambers consists of other aspects of hip-hop as far as chess, martial arts, literature, movies,” RZA explains. “So this stage there will be some hip-hop artists but [also] directors talking about how movies are made, performances talking about how hip-hop keeps its sound visible. I want to bring all these different acts to a festival environment and this year we will attempt to do something like that with the 36-Chambers stage.”

Murs, Curren$y, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Cypress Hill are also featured performers at the festival. Presented by Gorilla Union, and sponsored by Boost Mobile and Blackberry, the Rock the Bells Festival has also linked with House of Blues for an intimate tour featuring select artists on dates surrounding the separate festivals shows. Pre-sale tickets go on sale May 28 until Jun 3. General on-sale tickets start June 4.

Rock the Bells hits Los Angeles’ San Manuel Amphitheater on August 20, San Francisco’s Shoreline Amphitheater on August 27, New York’s Governor’s Island on September 3 and Boston on September 10, the venue to be announced at a later date.


Watch Nas’ ‘One Mic’
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