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Rock the Bells 2013: J. Cole, Pusha T, Slick Rick among additions

June 25, 2013|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • J Cole performs on the first day of the 2012 Rock the Bells Festival in San Bernardino.
J Cole performs on the first day of the 2012 Rock the Bells Festival in San… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Rock the Bells added a batch of additional performers to its 2013 lineup from younger voices J. Cole, Pusha T and Action Bronson to veteran hip-hop statesmen KRS One and Slick Rick.

The additions, which were announced Monday night, included more than a dozen acts across the traveling hip-hop festival's four stops.

Big Daddy Kane, Deltron 3030, Freeway, Girl Talk, Rapsody and 9th Wonder, Wale, YG, Riff Raff and Doug E. Fresh were also added to the bill.

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For its 10th anniversary, the festival, which kicks off in San Bernardino on Sept. 7-8, will feature younger rhyme-slayers like Big Krit, Dom Kennedy, agile voices like Wu-Tang Clan, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Talib Kweli, Common, E-40 and Too Short -- and "original virtual performances" (as it's being billed) by Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E.

Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt is also on the bill, along with Kid Cudi, Hit Boy and rap supergroup Black Hippy, whose most famous member, Kendrick Lamar, became one of the biggest breakouts in West Coast rap in recent years.

At least one of the planned “virtual” performances has raised eyebrows. Ol' Dirty Bastard’s widow, Icelene Jones, filed a cease-and-desist order against the festival claiming to have full rights to license the fallen Wu-Tang Clan member.

Festival promoters said they intend to move forward with the digital recreation because they have the support of the late rapper’s mother, who appeared at last month's lineup reveal.

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ODB will “perform” alongside Wu-Tang Clan, who reunited in full to mark the 20th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” with a performance at Coachella in April and an album slated for later this year.

Eazy-E’s “appearance” will come during a performance from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the Cleveland hip-hop group the late rapper launched back in the early '90s. Bone Thugs reunited for the first time in more than 20 years at last year’s festival.

Nostalgia has long played a critical role in the festival that hits four cities on the West and East coasts in the fall.

For years the festival devoted headlining slots to veteran lyricists performing seminal albums in their entirety (Lauryn Hill, Nas, Cypress Hill, Slick Rick and Wu-Tang Clan have all performed classic works). Recent lineups have shown the festival deftly straddling old school with buzzy upstarts and current chart-toppers.

Rock the Bells will also roll through Mountain View, Calif., and Washington, D.C., and wrap in Rutherford, N.J., in October.

Gerrick Kennedy


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