Saturday past, Darling and I ferried our butts over to Governor's Island to enjoy the day long hip hop festival Rock The Bells. The morning had proved a tough one for me, I wasn't exactly in spirits to be doing much but I had been looking forward to the event since before moving. I packed a bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bottled water, of course I forgot a camera, and we made our way to the Battery to do some waiting in line. Although I was excited to visit Governor's Island, the charting of 20,000 people to location via ferries isn't exactly what I would call the most user friendly (?? patron-friendly, but that sounds redonkulous) idea. I've never seen Jersey Shore but I imagine I got the homegrown taste of its subject matter while in that line. Klassy folks, friends, cut in line directly behind me... lets just say it took, awhile. So we missed a few sets that we had hoped to catch glimpses of, although nothing major. We spent waay too much money and time waiting for fresh squeezed lemonade (ugh, but who can turn it down on the last Saturday of summer, outside, at a festival??) but coupled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little shady spot things turned up a bit, just before miss Erykah Badu took the stage.
Badu's performance was as fierce as her outfit. I've seen Miss Badu once before (in Salt Lake City) and her performance energy is incredible. I believe that no one is having a better time than Erykah, and the influence feeds and transports her audience. If you are unfamiliar with the festival, its basic premise is classic artists, classic albums. She put it on with 1997's Baduizm. Whoa nah. (Boom clack, boomclack)
We stuck it out for the stage breakdown and setup and sidestepped our way as close to the front and center as the GA could be for the next set, put on by Ms. Lauryn Hill.
Friends, I don't know if I can really convey to you in this post how long I've loved The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, or how much I wanted to be Lauryn Hill when I was younger (but it did include convincing my mom to buy me some knock off Timberlands. You remember the 90s, yes? They had the Alex Mack vibe which is why I think she actually got them for me but I was definitely going for more of a Rita in Sister Act 2 kind of ensemble. Too much? I digress.). The album was reworked, the songs done in a new style but Ms. Hill sounded fantastic. She was a bit preoccupied with the band (too loud? too quiet?) and her earpiece was obviously not working properly so there was some stalling and lag time, I wouldn't call it "seamless." Things loosened up at the end of the set when she treated everyone to some "Fugeela," at which point everyone sort of lost their shit, only for Pras to join her on stage for "Ready or Not" and finally, "Kiling Me Softly." It seriously blew my mind to see these two beautiful, talented, influential females do their thing. To say the least, my mood had dramatically shifted from earlier that morning.
At the close of the set it we had to push ourselves out of the crowd for alllllll the duudes (where were they the rest of the day?) were swarming the stage for Nas. Sausage. Fest. Do I need to tell you I'm not a big Nas fan? Okay, so there's that. And although Darling can jam to some Illimatic we were on the same page. Those guys roll 16 people deep, it becomes everyone's cousin and best friend from elementary school on stage and I feel like it'd be really fun to be a part of, but much less enjoyable as a live performance. We cut from the set early to try and make the ferry before the masses funneled onto the little boats back to the city. Lady liberty with the Manhattan night skyline for a backdrop? One of those electric moments when you cannot tell if you are really inhabiting your body, seeing with your eyes, knowing you stand where your feet hold you. Do I live here?