Jay-Z led a parade of special guests yesterday (Aug. 3) during the Rock the Bells festival at Jones Beach on Long Island, N.Y., joining Nas for two songs during the latter’s set. Also making surprise appearances were Busta Rymes, EPMD, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and Slick Rick.
With a live band in tow, Nas’ hits-heavy set went to another level when Jay-Z appeared for rousing versions of “Black Republican” from 2006’s “Hip-Hop Is Dead” and a portion of “Success” from Jay-Z’s 2007 album “American Gangster.”
A Tribe Called Quest’s nostalgic headlining spot was augmented by an appearance by Busta Rhymes, who performed the “Low End Theory” showstopper “Scenario” with them and gave fans a mini-solo set highlighted by his 1997 radio gem “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”
Method Man and Redman delivered a serious lesson in Hip-Hop 101 by bringing such guests as DJ Kool, Slick Rick, Keith Murray and EPMD into their triumphant hour-long set. While leaving the stage, they promised not only a new duo album, “Blackout II,” but also a sequel to their 2001 stoner comedy “How High.”
Other surprises included Monch appearing during Immortal Technique’s short, politically-charged set; De La Soul celebrating 20 years of the Native Tongues movement by bringing out Dres of Black Sheep to perform “Flavor of the Month” and a hyped version of “The Choice Is Yours,” followed by an appearance of headliner Q-Tip for a rousing run through the indelible Native Tongues posse cut “Buddy”; a whole stage-load of non-performers crowding up the energetic, albeit bass-heavy Ghostface and Raekwon set; and Mos Def bringing out longtime partner Kweli for a memorable Black Star set and then staging a mini-Rawkus reunion by re-inviting Monche back onstage to perform his 1999 club anthem “Simon Says.”
Biz Markie also appeared during De La Soul’s set to perform his classics “Just a Friend” and “Nobody Beats the Biz,” prompting the audience to go beserk.
The only group who didn’t appear with a special guest was the festival’s only non-New York performers, the reunited Pharcyde. The California-based crew is planning a new studio album, its first with all original members since 1995’s revered “Labcabincalifornia.”
Rock the Bells Festival stops next on Saturday (Aug. 9) in San Bernardino, Calif.