All the Trendy Rappers in the World Couldn’t Save Rock the Bells


by Best-selling author of The Mindset of a Champion, Infinite Crab Meats and NaS Lost @byroncrawford


People just don’t want to see a bunch of lame suckers from the Internets, it seems.

And here I thought the summer music festival business was growing?

It was announced the other day that the Rock the Bells tour just isn’t gonna bother with its last few dates this year, in DC and New York. Ticket sales weren’t what they were hoping they’d be, so they just said fuck it. It would have been too much of a loss to actually go through with it.

Whatever that would have been, it must have been a shedload of money, to be preferable to what they ended up doing. When word hit the Internets that the DC and NY dates were canceled, it was a mere matter of hours before the DC show was set to begin. Rumors began to spread Thursday afternoon, for a show that would have been this past Saturday. Artists and concert-goers were probably already en route to DC—or they’d made arrangements, anyway.

Sucks for them!

The first rumors I heard came from artists who were scheduled to perform, i.e. roughly every third rapper still trying to make a go of it at this point, many of whom I follow on Twitter. Which would lead me to believe that Rock the Bells personally contacted them and let them know they could find something else to do this weekend and whatever weekend the NY dates would have been. That was certainly considerate of them!

The other option, and the one I may have gone with, because that’s the kind of spineless jellyfish I am, would have been to send out a press release announcing that the dates had been canceled, let the news trickle out through any number of hip-hop-related blogs and websites whose content strategy involves posting press releases more or less verbatim, and let the artists find out that way. That would have saved me a lot of difficult phone conversations.

Yet another option would have been to let the shows go on as planned, and then just not pay the artists afterward, on the grounds that not enough people showed up for them to receive what would have been their cut. This supposedly happens all the time in show biz, and in fact it seems kinda fair to me. If all those rappers combined couldn’t fill the kind of shitty outdoor amphitheater Journey—with the Asian guy singing lead—can fill on a Tuesday night (I used to work at one of those places), they don’t deserve to get paid.

And to me that’s what this comes down to. After I heard that the last four dates had been canceled, I took a look at this year’s lineup. On the one hand, there’s the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, who seem to headline Rock the Bells most years (they’re the Rock the Bells equivalent of Satellite Party), this year featuring Hologram ODB. And then on the other hand it’s literally every somewhat obscure rapper you’ve seen mentioned on some dumbass’ blog: J. Cole; Wale; Kendrick “Hobbit Hands” Lamar; Earl Sweatshirt; Tyler the Juggalo; Chief Keef; Joey Bada$$; A$AP Rocky… the list goes on.

You see these kids’ names mentioned so often, and the natural tendency is to assume that, while you could give a rat’s ass about any of them, clearly someone must, or else why would they be so ubiquitous? And why would the lineup of this year’s Rock the Bells be stacked with so many of them, rather than the usual selection of ‘90s-era rappers, i.e. the best kind of rappers possible? But maybe that’s what everyone thinks: everyone just assumes that someone else actually likes this shit, but come to find out there is no someone else.

It’s easy to pull that trick on the Internets, where you’re giving away the album for free, whether you intend to or not, and the blogs get money from McDonald’s to post it, regardless of whether or not anyone likes it, as part of the Illuminati’s plan to fatten us up for the kill. If only there was a way they could somehow compel us beyond our will to pay to see this mess live.