Soundcheck: Rock The Bells Recap

Guerilla Union kicked off their 9th Annual ˜Rock The Bells’ Festival in San Bernardino, Calif.  The two-day event attracted thousands of hip-hop fans to three stages featuring an eclectic mix of headliners, up-and-comers, and old-school favorites.  The blistering heat was no match for the scorching set-list that included Kendrick Lamar, Tyga, Nas, Ice Cube, and Common among others.

Photo by: Ashton Bowles

The first day of the festival was a real scorcher, with temperatures reaching 101 degrees, leaving fans clamoring for shade between sets. Still, 2Chainz’ mid-day performance on the 36 Chambers stage was packed.  Fresh off his No. 1 album debut last week, he treated the crowd to dance lessons during his high-energy set; where he performed hits like Mercy, Beez In The Trap, and No Lie.
Yelawolf was the next emcee to grace the stage and was backed up by Psycho White collaborator, Travis Barker on the drums.  The Detroit-based rapper rocked an American flag under his hat and waved middle fingers to the crowd throughout his 30-minute set.
Tyga rocked his noticeably young crowd with a medley of radio hits; showing off his tattoo collection to throngs of screaming girls.  Across the lot, Common delivered a power-packed performance of classic hits including, I Used To Love Her, Testify, and Be.  Dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, his subdued set was a welcomed relief from the more eccentric offerings of the day.

Soundcheck: Exclusive — Baby Bash On Moving Forward and Giving Back

Chances are, Baby Bash is responsible for one of your favorite songs, you just may not know it.  The thirty-six-year-old California native has been turning out hits since 2003, and he shows no sign of slowing down.  His latest hit, Go Girl featuring E-40 was another radio hit and he released his fourth studio album, Bashtown last month on his newly formed label of the same name.

In 2010 I created Bashtown Recordings and I took control of my own destiny.  I ended up finding out I can work my own project better than the label.  I can go straight to the radio and depend on myself and not worry about anyone else, he says. Now I get to keep my own money and I get to promote the way I want, talk how I want, talk for myself and it’s just easier for me, he says.   When you’re on a major [label] you gotta worry about seven or eight people signing off.  They don’t know about music because they’re robots and they play a numbers game.  I only worry about music.”  (more…)

Soundcheck: Hip Hop Hits…And Misses Playground Music Festival

Hip hop heroes did more than disappoint this weekend when headliners for the First Annual Playground Music Festival skipped their sets, leaving fans and promoters scratching their heads and looking for refunds.

The event was billed as a two-day hip hop, rock and electronic festival, suited for all ages, and promised 200 bands over thirteen stages.  Hosted by Nick Cannon and headlined by The Game, E-40, Too Short, Big Sean,  New Boyz, Panic! At The Disco and The Bravery, it even boasted appearances by Lindsay Lohan and Pete Wentz.

When gates at Hidden Valley, Irvine opened at noon on Saturday, the mostly vacant parking lot was an early warning sign that the 30,000 capacity outdoor venue might not be packed that day.  Once inside, fans found their way across thirteen stages strewn throughout the Hidden Valley property, ultimately leading to the main stage, where Game was expected to perform his Number 1 album, R.E.D. later that evening.

With no signage or announcements of show schedules and stages, it was tough for fans to find the sets they came to see.  Luckily, we caught OurStage’s own ForestPunk delivering one of the best rap performances I’ve seen in years. The twenty-year old Los Angeles native spit thirteen tracks in his hour-long set, which included an eclectic range of thought-provoking prose over heart-pounding dubstep beats, up against his softer-sounding songs like Scary Monster over acoustic guitar. His set-closing number, Bad Monkey had tinges of Lupe-inspired sound fused with the insight and confidence expected from an artist twice his age.

As the night moved on, Shiny Toy Gunz and The Cataracs gave lackluster performances to an eager but small crowd.  As the lock neared 8PM, the sound plug was abruptly pulled and an announcement followed that Game won’t be performing tonight. Show is over. Please proceed to the exits. No talk of refunds or rescheduling followed, only herds of fans rushed through the grounds with no explanation as to why.  Too Short and E-40 also missed their headlining slots, with the entire night going up in smoke.


Soundcheck: Snoop Unleashes The Doggumentary

As promised, Snoop Dogg has delivered The Doggumentary, an eighteen-track album that I would call a tribute album for true Snoop fans. In it, he seems to travel through the sounds of his career, treating fans to songs reminisent of his G-funk hits that launched him into super-stardom. Memories of Doggystyle come rushing back. The next minute, he’s fast forwarding to his R&G days, reminding us that although he certainly has a signature style; his sound is more dynamic than he’s credited for. He manages to bring us up to date with new sounding songs like Wet and Eyez Closed, proving that at forty years old with eleven albums under his belt, Snoop is still top dog. Here are some highlights from the Dogg’s latest release:

Toys N Da Hood  features Bootsy Collins in an old school funk track that kicks off the record’s “blast from the past” pace. It’s not my favorite track, but it sets the tone for the album, which is classically west coast.

The Way Life Used To Be  Samples Diana Ross and The Supremes’ hit of the same title. Snoop’s version of Back In The Day¦wishing he was back in his hey day; telling stories of stirring up trouble with friends as a teen in Long Beach.

My Own Way  Features a cameo from Mr. Porter and stars a distinctly tougher sounding Snoop paired up with the soulful singer, Mr. Porter for this laid-back track, where the Dogfather reminisces about his days on the grind.

Wonder What I Do  Another old-school sounding joint features Uncle Chucc whose voice I originally mistook for John Legend. It’s the kind of track I’msure my dad would play at a family BBQ, a perfect summer jam suitable for the whole family. John Legend does appear later in the album, alongside Kanye West in one of the project’s strongest tracks, Eyez Closed

My Fuc’n House  Young Jeezy & E-40 heat up this banger, which is much harder than the rest of the album. Jeezy kicks it off with his angry, intense flow and E-40 delivers in his characteristic, charismatic style. Snoop follows up by flexing his muscles; warning his enemies not to underestimate the dog. We expect the video, which has already wrapped shooting, to flood airwaves this week.

Boom  The second official single features T-Pain and is produced by Scott Storch, who sampled the hit, Situation by Yazoo. This one’s already heating up airwaves, on the heels of the album’s first single. Wet which Snoop crafted for Prince William’s bachelor party. The song has quickly become the anthem for spring breakers everywhere.

The Weed Iz Mine No Snoop album would be complete without an ode to Mary Jane. This one features his latest partner in crime, Wiz Khalifa, who has proven to be quite the cannabis affecianado.

Overall, Snoop has given fans another reason to keep him on top. The Dogg has proven time and again that he can adapt with the times while consistently delivering his own unique flavor to anything he does. Next up, Snoop will continue his cross-country tour, and plans to release his recent work with Charlie Sheen this month. Talk about crazy collabos.