After breaking out last year with a handful of large-scale festival performances from the reunited Rage Against the Machine, this summer's Rock the Bells tour will feature appearances by A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mos Def, De La Soul, Rakim and the reunited Pharcyde, among others.
The traveling hip-hop festival will visit amphitheaters in 10 major North American cities, beginning July 19 in Chicago, and wrapping Aug. 30 in Vancouver. This year marks the first time Rock the Bells will visit Toronto (July 20), Vancouver and Philadelphia (Aug. 3).
Also on the bill in various markets are Santogold, Spank Rock, Kid Sister, Jay Electronica, Wale, Flosstradamus, the Cool Kids, Method Man & Redman, Raekwon & Ghostface (Cuban Linx), Immortal Technique, Dead Prez, Murs and Kidz In the Hall, along with hosts Supernatural and B-Real of Cypress Hill.
"Our thought is that we always want to put together a well-rounded bill that represents a lot of different facets of live hop-hop," Rock the Bells founder and organizer Chang Weisberg of Guerilla Union tells Billboard.biz.
Following festival dates in North America, a number of acts on the bill will travel overseas for Rock the Bells concerts in Europe and Japan, beginning Sept. 20 at the 02 Arena in London. "We are continually trying to push the envelope so we can continue to support these artists and their careers globally," Weisberg notes.
Flash memory card producer SanDisk has signed on as the title sponsor for the 2008 Rock the Bells, and MySpace will serve as a partner. "They're going to launch our festival to an audience of 70 million people," Weisberg says of the social networking site. "That resonates and it's great for all of these artists."
Along with Rage Against the Machine, last year's Rock the Bells featured performances by the Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Immortal Technique, Jedi Mind Tricks, the Roots, Sage Francis, Mos Def, EPMD and MF Doom. Twelve shows tracked by Billboard Boxscore grossed $14.5 million and drew more than 203,000 concertgoers.