Rock The Bells 2009: The Elements of Mourning Michael Jackson




Something huge happened two days before the first Rock the Bells  tour stop in Chicago transforming the festival in to a day-long mourning experience that I haven’t experienced before at a music festival. From the stage to the lawn seats, the death of Michael Jackson completely altered the entire emotional experience for both the fans and the artists. Even though we were all gathered to enjoy the beats and rhymes of hip hop’s finest, Jackson’s death hung like a shadow over the event as the distant look of nostalgic sadness and heartfelt loss was painted on fans’ faces.

That was an excerpt from my forthcoming Rock the Bells 2009 review on Ink19.  As you probably could have imagined the emotions of fans just a couple days after the death of Michael Jackson were extremely palpable.  The hearts of fans were tender and it was a very interesting mix of emotions as many otherwise hard emcees and DJs showed their softer side and adoration for the King of Pop.  

FinishedTagged2KRSOneSigned2While the festival celebrated hip hop and mourned Michael Jackson I also had the pleasure of taking in the artwork of I spoke with POP (Pieces of Peace) Murals organizer Lily B as she explained how the  local Chicago organization’s mission is “to build constructive and meaningful relationships between artists and their community, while providing social and artistic enrichment to both through education, community involvement and municipal consent.”   It was inspiring to watch her artists represent hip hop’s visual element as the beats and rhymes flowed from the stage. And as they painted I wondered how much the  live music influenced their choice of colors, design and overall creative flow.  Did a single verse, lyric or beat lead them in a different creative direction? Did the artist use their paintings to mourn Michael Jackson and thus create a new kind of live concert expressive art therapy? Tell me what you think after you check out the video below as I captured the artists in action.

Then just outside The Temple of Hip Hop on the festival’s plaza area, I got caught in the middle of a KRS-ONE autograph blitz as he built buzz for his forthcoming book The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument due in fall 2009.  I’ll be sure to scope it out when it comes out and let you know how it is. The video below captures the chaos.

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