Rock the Bells: Nas & Damian Marley, Roots, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Reflection Eternal, Tech N9ne, GZA, Raekwon, K'naan, Sage Francis, Slaughterhouse, Buckshot, M.O.P., Slum Village, Eyedea & Abilities, Evidence & Alchemist, the Knux, and others | Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre | Hip-Hop, Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader
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Rock the Bells: Nas & Damian Marley, Roots, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Reflection Eternal, Tech N9ne, GZA, Raekwon, K'naan, Sage Francis, Slaughterhouse, Buckshot, M.O.P., Slum Village, Eyedea & Abilities, Evidence & Alchemist, the Knux, and others 

When: Sat., June 27, 1 p.m. 2009
Phone: 877-598-8703
Price: $24.99-$176
The Rock the Bells festival is now in its sixth year—an especially impressive feat considering the ambivalence many concert promoters still feel about booking big rap shows and the often-true stereotype that rappers on tour are stoned prima donnas with overdeveloped senses of entitlement. Even better, the festival has so far stayed remarkably faithful to its original mission: showcasing underground, indie, and less-than-radio-friendly hip-hop acts. This year’s lineup is as strong as ever. Among the highlights are Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, who first collaborated on “Road to Zion” from Marley’s 2005 album, Welcome to Jamrock. Nas’s blunt delivery contrasts nicely with Marley’s melodic rasp; they’re touring behind a new full-length collaboration, Distant Relatives. Rapper Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek have been working together since teaming up with Mos Def in 1998 to become Black Star, and I’m hoping that their decision to revive the name of their 2000 project, Reflection Eternal, signals that they’re regaining a focus missing from their recent work. Brooklyn duo M.O.P.’s 2000 single “Ante Up” is the definitive chain snatcher’s anthem, and like a lot of their material it can inspire serious slam dancing from people who wouldn’t be caught dead at a punk show. At press time the complete Rock the Bells roster was Nas & Damian Marley, the Roots, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Reflection Eternal, Tech N9ne, GZA, Raekwon, K’naan, Sage Francis, Slaughterhouse, Buckshot, M.O.P., Necro, Slum Village, Eyedea & Abilities, Evidence & Alchemist, the Knux, Psycho Realm, Mystik Journeymen, Chali 2na, Mickey Factz, B. Dolan, and Tabi Bonney; KRS-One, Supernatural, Murs, and Pete Rock host. —Miles Raymer

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