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Rock the Bells Recruits Wu-Tang Clan, Slick Rick and Rakim for Full Album Sets

As has been the tradition for the previous two years, Rock the Bells organizers Guerilla Union and this year’s headliners gathered at Los Angeles’ Key Club to unfurl plans for hip-hop’s biggest festival. The 2010 press conference, followed as always by a live show with several of the acts, found Guerilla Union head Chang Wesiberg flanked at a podium by the Wu-Tang Clan‘s GZA and RZA, DJ Muggs, and The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club’s Boots Riley, to announce the details for the 2010 edition.

And the big news, revealed initially in a freestyle rap by RTB host Supernatural, the festival will feature four classic hip-hop albums performed in their entirety — Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Rakim‘s ‘Paid In Full,’ KRS-One‘s ‘Criminal Minded,’ and Slick Rick‘s ‘The Adventures of Slick Rick.’

Though GZA has been performing ‘Liquid Swords’ from start to finish in recent years, the idea of full album routes is usually reserved for rock acts. “You get it when Pink Floyd or Roger Waters says, ‘We’re gonna do ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ or ‘The Wall,’ whatever,’” Weisberg told The BoomBox. “Rock acts, you get it and they go on.” But he’s now finding at least initially that fans and other artists are already very excited about the prospects of hip-hop albums being played in full live. “Every person I spoke to goes, ‘So, what other albums? Oh my god. We’re inspired now. Why didn’t you pick ‘Doggystyle’ with Snoop or what about Dre, ‘Chronic,’ can you pull that off?,” Weisberg says. “That’s what’s important. The four albums that we announced today set a very high bar for quality and opened up a lane that is just not existing anywhere else right now.”

For RZA it was the idea of doing ’36 Chambers’ that excited him. “When Chang was like, ‘Let’s do 36 Chambers,’ I was like, ‘S—, I always wanted to do it.’ That was one of the reasons, like he said, he didn’t have to twist my arm for that,” RZA told The BoomBox after the conference. It also allowed the Wu-Tang to bring a different feel to this year’s RTB performance. “We did Rock The Bells a couple of times and I don’t want to be like the old dick at the party,” he says. “But we never did a theme like that, so that makes we want to be there at Rock the Bells, makes you want to perform, and then to see what the other artists is doing makes it extra special for me.”

Other acts joining RTB this year include Street Sweeper Social Club, Murs and 9th Wonder, DJ Muggs and Ill Bill, Wiz Khalifa, Clipse, Immortal Technique, Jedi Mind Trick, Brother Ali, Big Sean and Yelawolf.

Rock the Bells kicks off this year in San Bernardino, California on August 21, heads to San Francisco August 22, then onto Governor’s Island in New York August 28 before wrapping up in Washington, D.C. August 29. For ticket on-sales and lineups per city visit Guerillaunion.net.

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