Rock The Bells 2011: The Prelude

By Jon Garcia

Back in 1985, the young (and then-lanky) LL Cool J exclaimed to his fans and anyone listening, “Rock the bells!” on a bold track over the slashes of Rick Rubin’s brash production. His debut album, Radio, was a breakthrough record in ’85, propelling LL, as well as the genre of Hip-Hop, into the mainstream. Twenty-six years later, the LP is considered a rap cult classic.

The famous track “Rock the Bells” now captures thousands of concertgoers annually, as Rock The Bells has become one of the biggest Hip-Hop concert tours in the world; and it’s a wonder why Mr. Cool James himself has yet to perform at the concert he inadvertently helped to brand.

The first Rock The Bells was held in the summer of 2004, with the entire Wu-Tang Clan headlining- it was their first show as a group in nearly a decade, and ultimately, would be one of their last, as ODB passed away four months later. Originally dubbed as a West Coast exclusive tour, popular demand over the years has seen the show travel across the map, to cities such as New York, Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Miami, Columbia, and Denver. In 2011, Rock The Bells will travel to four cities/venues: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Boston.

One of the most alluring parts of the Rock The Bells series has been its showcasing of artists performing entire albums from their discography. This year boasts what may be the most heavy-hitting lineup yet. Classic albums like Illmatic, The Miseducation f Lauryn Hill, Baduizm, Be, The Infamous, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Liquid Swords, and more, will be performed by their respective artists. Wu-Tang’s RZA will serve as host for the event, and over 30 acts in total will be hitting the stage.

Look for performances from artists such as Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller, Blu, and Freddie Gibbs to appeal to a newer crowd. In fact, with the large list of talent, there are sure to be multiple artists that cater to the diverse rap audience’s liking at Rock The Bells. Not to mention, there are always ‘surprise guests’ that fall through and take the crowd off-guard. In 2011, will it be Kanye? Jay? Lil’ Wayne?

Rain or shine, inside or outside, the show has, and promises to go on. And with the likes of 36 Chambers, Doggystyle, and The Low End Theory being performed at last year’s show alone, it’s safe to say that the fans wouldn’t have it any other way. With classic albums and hungry artists set to blaze the stage, Rock The Bells needs only to look back at LL for its claim:

“I excel, they all fail!”

Rock The Bells 2011 – Tour Dates, Cities & Venues:
Los Angeles - August 20, San Manuel Amphitheater
San Francisco - August 27, Shoreline Amphitheater
New York- September 3, Governor's Island
Boston - September 10, Comcast Center


Rock The Bells Official Website (for venue info & tickets)


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