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Rocking The Bells and the Boat Cruise

LL Cool J’s company, Rock the Bells,hosted their first ever hip-hop cruise from Monday, November 13th to Friday, November 17th. The ship departed from Miami and stopped in Nassau, Bahamas. Branded as the “ The Hip Hop experience,” Rock The Bells did not disappoint, as this was the most personal and up close fans could get to their rap hero’s .The hip hop company which includes television content and Sirius XM radio shows from hip hop pioneers such as Grand Master Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, and Sha-Rock the first female emcee signed to major label executed with giving the fans an authentic experience that could not be duplicated. On the opening day of the cruise when me and my girlfriend got out the Uber and arrived at dock at the port of Miami, we were feet away from Brooklyn icon Big Daddy Kane who had just arrived as well. Kane entered with a smooth yellow 80’s era track suit as he greeted fans. Those types of experiences and close interactions are ones that hip hop enthusiasts could only wish for. Others like seeing acclaimed producer Pete Rock at cruise buffet and talking to Parrish from EPMD and letting him know the track “Crossover,” was one of my childhood favorites and him asking if I was attending the show that evening was a dream in hip hop heaven. And being able to talk and take a picture with the one man show himself the Kid Capri, seeing Roxanne Shante organize a Spades tournament, Grandmaster Caz play dominoes were some other unique hip hop experiences. Cruise goers were greeted to the sounds and scratching by Technician the DJ, also known for deejaying for Lox on the Verzuz battle against Dip Set. He played a blend of 80’s and 90’s tracks that ranged from Whodini’s “Friends,” to Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance,” and Gang Star’s “Dwyck.” UGK and Houston Legend Bun B set off a grand tone of the cruise with anthems such as “Draped Up,” “Get Throwed,” and others he’s collaborated on such as “Big Pimpin,” and “Int’l players anthem (I Choose you).” Later DJ Mister Cee, who is credited for helping to discover the Notorious Big played a diverse array of hits such as F.L.Y’s “Swag Surfin,” “Jadakiss freestyle,”and Arrested Development’s “Everyday People,” to keep the crowd entertained and unified. What followed was a Miami set that riled up the audience, with them feeling right at home in the 305. Trick Daddy performed several hits off his catalogue including “I’m a Thug,” “Shut Up,” and “Take it to da house.” Trina opened with her verse from “Nann Ni**a,” as Trick finished his set and she started hers. The 305-empress performed other fan favorites such as “Pull Over,” and “Here We Go.” The producer round table moderated by the Rock the Bells personality Torae, was a treat for fans of deejaying and beat making. Pete Rock, Mannie Fresh, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Lil Jon shared stories of the challenge of digging in the crates to find records and difficulty in clearing samples. Lil Jon and Mannie Fresh credited Uncle Luke of 2 Live Crew, and the late Larry Smith, who produced Run DMC and Whodini as being influences in their music. While DJ Jazzy Jeff described Gamble and Huff who created the Philly Sound as his biggest. Pete Rock credited J Dilla, Marley Marl, Teddy Riley, and James Brown for sparking his sound. When describing todays music Lil Jon said, “lots the music has no soul,” due to the lack of live instruments. Later that evening there was throwback jersey night party that we attended deejayed by Grandmaster Dee of Whodini which was a fun time. The following morning the ship docked in Nassau Bahamas, and many left to have lunch and experience the culture of the island. When we returned that evening we were treated to a performance by Big Boi and Sleepy Brown of Dungeon family fame, they performed several hits including “ATLiens,” “The Way You Move,” and So Fresh, So Clean.” “$hort stories,” with legendary Oakland Rapper Too Short featured him having conversations over drinks with Mannie Fresh, Eric Sermon, and Nick Cannon. I caught the conversation he had with Sermon as he discussed their collaboration on a track called “Buy you Some,” to ease tensions during the height of East- West Coast beef of the time. They shared stories of their close friendship and Short joked that Sermon would disappear when they were out, Sermon explained that he often left because he was less social in crowds and did not drink or smoke weed. Cannon and Short have been friends for years as Short met Cannon at the Jive Records offices when he was still a Nickelodeon star. There were jokes about the number of kids Cannon has (twelve). Cannon joked “that there was nothing wrong with me spreading that generational wealth.” And Cannon insisted that Too Short should be on Mount Rushmore of West Coast Rap as one of the top four to five emcees. That evening featured a bevy of amazing performances including Too Short, Mannie Fresh, and Rick Ross. In addition, Rah Digga of the Flip Mode Squad got married, the wedding was officiated by Big Daddy Kane. Kid Capri rocked the wedding reception party. There were several events along the 4-night cruise, some of the other highlights were the Rap Karaoke hosted by Roxanne Shante, Spades Tournaments, and 50 years of hip hop discussions and DJ Sets. Some live performances from the greats such as EPMD, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, and DJ Jazzy Jeff. An honorable mention needs to go out to “Wildin Out,” cast as Cannon and his crew used members of the audience on his teams of battling to make for a hilarious improv show. The Rock the Bells Staff did a fantastic job of giving cruise goers an experience that they will remember and provided detailed gifts such as “Rock the Bells,” themed Shot Glasses, Pins, and Throws. And Ghostface who was supposed to perform but caught a bug sent a bottle of Champagne to the fans. There were bonds made amongst the guests, as many are already planning to attend the following year and speculating on who will be on the line-up. It was announced by Torae, that the cruise will be back next year, the same dates November 13 to November 17th, 2024. For more information check out

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Renee Mickens
Renee Mickens
Nov 26, 2023

Great recap.. Great Cruise experience...

Replying to

Thanks , it was a great time.

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