Rock the Bells Official After Party
August 16, 2008
Review and Photos by Jackie Lopez
Better Than: Being stuck in two lane traffic getting out of suburban Mountain View after Rock the Bells.
The drive from Rock the Bells at the Shoreline Amphitheatre to home sweet San Francisco was crazy. Imagine thousands of hip-hop heads leaving the Shoreline, feelin’ the beat, not wanting it to end, and heading back to the city to get more hip-hop love out in the air. There were a good number of Rock the Bells after parties being thrown last night for such folk. The Dark Room at Club 6 had something planned, as did 1015 Folsom. Redman and Method Man were headed to Poleng Lounge for an appearance, but the official Rock the Bells after party was at the Mezzanine. So I headed there.
Let’s just say it was one of those nights where you couldn’t move because the place was so packed that you had to walk sideways and push and nudge a little to move through the crowd. Drinks were being spilled everywhere, the bar looked like it was flooded, and every girl seemed irritated because that person behind her had touched her booty.
It was one of those nasty nights where you felt like you had to put your hand over your drink because you were scared of sweat dropping from the ceiling. It was so dark inside the Mezz at first; I know it took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the lighting. Security couldn’t really do much about the fog of medicinal smoke that hovered over the crowd. It must have been a hard job to catch one person smoking a blunt when there was so much passing around being done. In their shoes, I would’ve just given up and let everyone have their fun.
The two video screens on opposite sides of the stage were messing around with backgrounds and very random photos of Mos Def and Nas and Q-Tip while they were on stage. If you stared at one screen long enough and took a deep pot-filled breath, you’d most likely trip out squinting at the messed-up effects, and wonder if the crew was playing with your head on purpose. One had to wonder if said crew was higher than the next person in the crowd.
The dance floor was a sea of hip-hop lovers with their caps fixed tight on their heads, which bobbed up and down and sideways, following the flow of the music. All right hands were thrown up in the air and then down, swaying to the same rhythms as the heads as Q Tip went on the ones and twos and made the crowd rock to selective, sometimes controversial, hardcore underground beats. And let me tell you, when he threw on “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool, that crowd went bananas.
A regular visitor to San Francisco, Mos Def rocked the crowd on the mic once again. This time, he was acting comfortably stupid on stage, dancing like a fool and slurring words on purpose just for the hell of it -- something I felt was entertaining because I’ve never seen him act like that before. De La Soul, Nas, the rest of A Tribe Called Quest and other artists cozied up against the walls, alcohol in hand, faded, and having a good ass time -- you could see them all spit the lyrics out to the next hit Q-Tip or Von blasted on the bass and speakers.
May from Oakland, who emerged from the VIP section (which was crawling with artists) described it as “Hella dudes and girls. Folks eating and smoking. Just saw Mos Def…. you cant hear much from outside and the air conditioning is hella cold.” But you didn’t need to be upstairs or in the VIP room in order to see the artists. They were everywhere. Spank Rock was just wandering around. De La Soul was at the bar getting more drinks. Jay Electronica hung around outside for a minute talking to some folks.
Speaking of Jay Electronica, I would say he tore up some mad lyrics, but I ended up paying more attention to his bright red Gold Coin sweatshirt than his mouth. It was impressive to see a well known artist support a local SFC clothing company. There were people in the smoking area just talking, networking, catching up and if you were there, you’d agree that you might've bumped into so many people last night you started wondering why the hell you guys didn't just all come together and save gas money.
As I walked back inside, I heard Nas on the mic, and my favorite part of that show hit: “When I say J. You say Dilla.” And oohhhhs went through the people all at once. He was the only that everyone really missed at Rock the Bells and deserved to be there. The devoted crowd chanted repeatedly after Mos Def. “J. Dilla. J. Dilla.” A tribute to that mastermind is one I will always raise my glass to. Raise yours with me. And to hip-hop.
Personal Bias: I felt bad for the guys who had to pay $25 bucks to get in.
Random Detail: Tell me why we sang Happy Birthday to Cookie Ball who I’m sure a lot of people don’t know. But we sang it anyway. And it sounded good. And like we cared.
By the Way: Those two white guys in front of me in their white tees were so faded I don’t believe they knew anyone else was there besides themselves.