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This Just In: Rock the Bells Canceled

According to the Rock the Bells Web site, the hip-hop package tour’s Houston date, featuring Wu-Tang Clan, UGK, Nas, Pharoahe Monche and several others scheduled for Wednesday at Reliant Center, has been canceled. No reason was listed on the Web site, but HoustonSoReal founder and sometime Press contributor Matt Sonzala said the Houston date had sold less than 1,000 tickets. The Dallas date scheduled for tonight at the Smirnoff Music Center is still on, and a Reliant Center representative said refunds are available at the point of purchase, including Ticketmaster outlets.

UGK: As a matter of fact, they are still ridin' dirty. Why do you ask?

“I pray that I get a check,” said Sonzala, who was hired to do promotion for Rock the Bells. “I can’t say it was a matter of promotions. I heard it on the radio; I saw it [advertised] everywhere.”

In Sonzala’s opinion, the reason for the slow ticket sales was the tour’s “wack” lineup. “If they brought the lineup they had in New York or Cali” – which included the reunited Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy – “they would have sold something.”

Furthermore, Sonzala said that although Rock the Bells continued advertising the duo as scheduled to appear, Bun B of Houston’s UGK told him they dropped off the bill three weeks ago.

“I hit up Bun three days ago and he was like, ‘Nah,’ Sonzala said. “I have no idea why [they canceled].”

Had the show not been canceled, the Wu-Tang Clan may have been in for a chilly reception. In the most recent URB magazine, founder and producer the RZA questions Southern rappers’ hip-hop credentials, among other things.

“How has the South dominated hip-hop for the last four, five years without lyrics, without hip-hop culture really in their blood?" RZA says. "Those brothers came out representing more of a stereotype of how black people are, and I think the media [would] rather see us as ignorant, crazy motherfuckers than seeing us as intelligent young men trying to rise and take care of ourselves."

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“Why would you do that?” Sonzala said. “Talk about a whole region and people get mad. They get annoyed with that shit. I know I do.”

“I know I’ve seen Wu-Tang act like ignorant, crazy motherfuckers,” he added.

In happier hip-hop news, UGK’s long-awaited, much-delayed double album Underground Kingz hits stores today. Sonzala said he had already downloaded the album – special remixes are available on iTunes – but was headed to the store to get a copy of the limited-edition DVD sold with the CD.

“It’s good, man,” he said. “It’s $11.98 with the DVD at Circuit City.” – Chris Gray

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