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Don’t Call it a Comeback: Inaugural “Rock the Bells” festival comes to Forest Hills

LL Cool J is coming to “Rock the Bells” this summer at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium with an all-star lineup of hip-hop greats, including Ice Cube, Jadakiss, The Diplomats, Lil Kim, N.O.R.E., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Trina, Digable Planets, a special performance by Scarface celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 2002 hit album “The Fix,” and more still to be announced.

Queens native and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee LL Cool J said that the day-long event, which shares the name of his hit song and SiriusXM satellite radio station, was created to pay homage to the birth of Hip-Hop with performances from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s eras.

“This festival is my way of showing love to the community of Hip-Hop and celebrating the incredible journey this culture has taken, going from DJ Kool Herc’s Sedgwick Avenue rec room, to the global phenomenon we all cherish today,” LL Cool J said in a statement. “Getting to bring some of the most iconic and influential Hip-Hop artists to the same stage, in my hometown and the city that started it all, is an honor and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have in store for them.”

The style and culture we today know as “hip-hop” historically originated during a birthday party hosted by DJ Kool Herc on Aug. 11, 1973, at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx, and it quickly took the entire city, and eventually the entire globe, by storm.

However, for several years prior to the announcement, there had already been a series of hip-hop festivals, originating in Southern California, which used the moniker “Rock the Bells.” But after a lawsuit in 2018, LL Cool J reclaimed the rights to the name and officially launched his own radio station on SiriusXM.

Editorial Director Alec Banks said that when LL Cool J approached him about starting the “Rock the Bells” radio station, it was his idea to transform what was considered the “old school” rap/hip-hop channel into a symbol dedicated to the long-lasting reverence of fans for the music and the culture, where no age group, color, or creed would be excluded.

“We’ve unearthed untold stories, set the record straight, and celebrated achievements that have nothing to do with chart placements or money in the bank,” Banks said. “And now we’re building something new.”

Hosted by Roxanne Shante of the legendary Juice Crew with music by DJ Mister Cee and DJ Scratch, the inaugural “Rock the Bells” festival will take place on Aug. 6 at the Forest Hills Stadium. For tickets and more information on the event visit rockthebellsfestival.com.

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