Method Man with Wu-Tang Clan at Paid Dues Festival 2012 facebook.com/paidduesfestival

After a raucous performance of “Method Man,” the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA addressed the crowd at the Paid Dues festival last Saturday.

“We were gold before this next song,” he announced to the thousands of fans at the National Orange Show event center in San Bernardino, California. “But when this song hit the West Coast, it pushed our shit to platinum,” he went on. The beat for “C.R.E.A.M.” dropped and the crowd erupted.

It was a significant moment at Paid Dues. When underground juggernaut Murs launched the event in 2006, it was a showcase for several of his rapper friends, including Atmosphere, Aesop Rock and El-P. On Saturday, more than 40 artists performed at Paid Dues on three stages spread throughout the venue located about an hour east of Los Angeles.

What made this year’s Paid Dues -- the annual event is in its seventh year -- so noteworthy was the inclusion of a diverse collection of artists from a variety of cities and eras, and with different musical agendas.

Now-school sensations Odd Future and Kendrick Lamar shared billing with underground stalwarts (Ras Kass, Self Scientific and RA The Rugged Man) and groundbreaking 1990s crews (Boot Camp Clik and Hieroglyphics).

Wu-Tang Clan, who co-headlined with Odd Future, delivered one of the most consistent sets. The legendary group played for an hour and leaned heavily on selections from its landmark debut album, “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” released in 1993.

RZA, Ghostface, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Raekwon also included a tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard before launching into ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”

Perhaps the most left-field inclusion at the festival was Three 6 Mafia. The group, consisting of Juicy “J” and DJ Paul, drew a virtually capacity crowd to its explosive 35-minute set.

Juicy “J” kicked off the crew’s set with “U Trippy Mane” and ran through several hits, including the bone-crushing “Who Run It,” the psychedelic “I’m So Hi” and the pimped-out “Poppin’ My Collar.” The crowd sang along during much of Three 6 Mafia’s performance, which mined such early hits as “Tear Da Club Up ’97.”

The crowd was equally engaged during a remarkable set from DJ Quik, who provided a few noteworthy surprises. After six songs, the talented rapper-producer from Compton hopped on the turntables for a few minutes and flexed his skills before the instrumental for The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Notorious Thugs” started playing.

Already animated after listening to Biggie’s opening verse, the crowd reached a fever pitch when Bizzy Bone came on stage to deliver his rapid-fire rhymes to the hard-hitting cut.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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