Thousands of fans swarmed into Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York, on Saturday for the Rock The Bells Festival, which showcased a lineup of hip-hop royalty deemed a coronation of the culture by spectators and artists alike.
Founder LL Cool J reignited the festival after he won a court battle for its name. “Rock The Bells” is also the title of his 1985 smash hit.
The all-day festival rolled out an ensemble of hip-hop superstars such as Ice Cube, Jadakiss, Rick Ross, Lil’ Kim, Busta Rhymes and Scarface. It also touted the Trill Mealz Food Court, curated by rapper Bun B, which offered grub from rappers’ eateries such as Bun B’s Trill Burgers, Nas’ Sweet Chick and Ghostface Killah’s Killah Koffee.
Styles P, of the hip-hop group The Lox, who runs Juices for Life with group member Jadakiss, said it’s a beautiful thing to have artists collaborate and do more for hip-hop than move a crowd with their music.
“We are unifying. We are using our brains. We are using our energy and our synergy to do more together besides just the music,” he said. “We are supplying the food and the meals for the day. This is going back to the hip-hop community, all the way around. So today is 100% hip-hop.”
Bun B directed traffic Saturday from behind grills that were cooking up patties for a consistently long line of hungry hip-hop heads.
“It’s good to be a part of hip-hop history, to continue to be a part of hip-hop history and to consistently be able to impact the culture in a great way,” he said. “Food is a great way to commune with different people at festivals. You tend to get to know the people you’re in line with. And you all have great food. You get to talk about that. It just helps lend itself to a better experience at a music festival.”
An older hip-hop festival, also called Rock the Bells, was organized and managed by a different company that put on shows from 2004 to 2013.
About 13,000 people attended Saturday’s sold-out show, despite scorching temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, organizers said.
Jason Olivencia, 42, of Browns Mills, New Jersey, said he was excited to hear artists he grew up listening to, such as Scarface, Jadakiss and Ice Cube.
“They’re still relevant. They influenced a lot of the new school. We got to pay respect for where it began,” Olivencia said.
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