Top Five Acts to Catch at Rock the Bells 2012

Rock the Bells has become a rite of passage for hip-hop lovers. Every summer since 2004, the festival has combined some of the biggest names both past and present in hip-hop and put them together to create one large extravaganza. This year, they’ve switched the concept up by stretching the event to two days. With the extra day, the festival has given fans more options and the ability to check out more groups than they would have before. With more acts and longer sets, fans will be able to check out whoever they want without having to worry about what’s going on at the other stages. That being said, here are the five performances we’re looking forward to at this year’s Rock The Bells.

5. Curren$y

Whenever the New Orleans-born rapper performs live, it’s always an experience with no single show being exactly the same as the last. As one of the few artists in his genre to have a tireless performance schedule, his animated stage presence and crowd command are unlike few others in the genre. Combine that with his seemingly endless catalogue of material, for fans familiar with Spitta, this could be one of the best sets of the weekend. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.


4. Ice Cube

Think the OG has gone soft after his ventures into film and TV? Guess again. Though he’s kinder and gentler than his earlier years, Cube still resonates with hip-hop heads, even he’s aged to become a nostalgia act. Sentimentality aside, whenever the former N.W.A. performs live, he not only brings his A-game, but his repertoire of greatest hits. That alone should make fans happy.

3. Nas

Even with the recent controversy surrounding using Jay Electronica, the New Yorker still has Illmatic to his credits, which is still one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history. The ageless rapper keeps going strong, writing and recording material with both old school icons to new artists like Frank Ocean. Headlining the second night of the festival, Nas’s 75-minute set will please older fans and like last year’s performance, He’ll be sure to win new fans with his workmanlike set, which will undoubtedly span his entire career.


2. Wiz Khalifa

Let’s get this out there: most hip-hop fans love stoner rap. At the forefront of this movement is Wiz Khalifa. Having performed at some of the larger theaters in the country, the Pittsburgh-native is familiar with playing before a big crowd and thrives in a larger setting. Even if fans aren’t as stoned as he is, don’t be surprised if Wiz steals the shows and establishes himself as one of the true rising stars in the genre, while effectively putting the Iron City on the map as one of the future hubs of hip-hop.


1. Method Man & Redman

Why are these guys our must-see outfit at the festival? Well first of all, hip-hop’s version of the fun bunch will be performing their debut album, Blackout!, in its entirety. Though it debuted at no. three on the Billboard Top 200, somehow the record has been overlooked as one of the better albums to be released when it was. It mixes great beats with fun lyrics and a big single with “Da Rockwilder”—this record had it all. When you combine that with the duo’s charisma and chemistry, this is going to be one of the most unforgettable sets of the weekend.

 —Daniel Kohn

Rock the Bells 2012 kicks off Aug . 18. Click here to see official dates, line-ups and ticketing info.