By Taleah Griffin and Marisa Aveling
Hip-hop has seen some good days—some really good days—and Saturday was one of those rare ones where things just fell into place. It was projected to rain; it didn’t. Lauryn Hill was projected not to show up for her performance; she did. Everything was in order as Rock The Bells once again fell on Governors Island.
Roc Marciano played songs off of Marcberg over at the 36 Chambers Stage, rocking the growing crowd and keeping the energy high for 36 Chambers’ next performer, Killah Priest. Blasting off lyrical weapons of spirituality and history, he kept the crowd attentive, even when the sound system screwed up and a shrill noise overcame the entire back area of the venue. An under-the-radar veteran, Priest wasn’t going to let the sound man ruin his moment.
Meanwhile, Rhymesayers artist Evidence had taken the floor over on the Paid Dues Stage. He drew a large crowd of supporters and even brought out his step-brother, Alchemist, to perform a track with him. Constantly checking on the crowd to make sure no one had fainted from the heat and everyone was still vibing with him, Evidence ended his set by performing a new track slated for release on his upcoming album, Cats And Dogs, due out September 27.
Lingering at the Paid Dues Stage a bit longer, the crowd waited for Macklemore to head out with his DJ, Ryan Lewis. Macklemore, a white Seattle native, wore a blue jean jacket with black fringe on both arms (and an excellent depiction of David Bowie painted on the back) in 90-degree weather and rapped about being Irish and gym shoes. Nothing wrong with that. Plus his inflection was dope.
All of a sudden you would have thought the Paid Dues Stage was giving away money because a swarm of people rushed it in the span of five minutes. Then Freddie Gibbs walked out, and the surge made sense. True to form, Gibbs’ shirt hit the ground at about the same time that he hit the stage. He probably said “fuck the police” 20 times in less than 10 minutes, and what would a Freddie Gibbs show be without requesting all weed smokers to pass their blunts to the front of the stage? When women and men 18-40 started rapping line for line the words to “Rob Me A Ni**a,” you knew that it was a moment of which Gary, IN, would have been proud.
All photos by Anna Delany
Next page: The second half of the day featuring Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and more