Rock the Bells, the Warped Tour of rap music, hasn’t been to the Washington area since 2010’s stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Three years later, the traveling hip-hop jamboree has moved into the city proper, stopping at RFK Stadium this weekend. The lineup is stacked with rappers and DJs, featuring chart-toppers like Wale, Kid Cudi, Girl Talk, J Cole, Big Sean, Pusha T, Common and Talib Kweli. Beyond those big names, though, there are a few standouts you won’t want to miss. Travis Andrews (For Express)
A$AP Mob (above)
Led by A$AP Rocky, whose banger hit “F—in’ Problems” was a major song of the summer, the A$AP Mob includes A$AP Ferg, A$AP Ant, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Nast — and more dollar $igns than any rap group in hi$tory. With this crew, you can expect slick, rich beats and bountiful boasts, like when Rocky raps about his “transition to a Lamborghini from a Mustang” in the song “Train 1.”
This New Orleans rapper rhymes over jazzy beats about the everyday pleasantries of wealth. For instance, downloading updated NBA rosters for an Xbox game, or drinking fresh lemonade: “I’m enjoying a lemon press, not that Minute Maid crap/ They squeeze these lemons they selves.” That lyric comes from “Roasted,” in which Curren$y, below, raps philosophically about the copious amount of marijuana he (allegedly) consumes.
On the (delayed) heels of the Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella, Rock the Bells will feature two beyond-the-grave holographic guests: Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E. The hologram of ODB, a Wu-Tang Clan legend who died in 2004, will join his kung-fu-obsessed troupe for a 20th-anniversary performance. The hologram of Eazy-E, the N.W.A. member recognized by many as the godfather of gangsta rap, will appear alongside R&B heavyweights Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.
Earl Sweatshirt, above, is the quiet kid in Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the West Coast rap collective that spawned Grammy winner Frank Ocean and is led by the outrageous Tyler, the Creator (who also performs solo at Rock the Bells). Earl Sweatshirt, whose major label debut, “Doris,” is among this year’s best rap releases, is reserved, sullen and wise beyond his years: “If I hurt you I’m sorry/ the music makes me dismissive,” he confesses on “Sunday.”