Paid Dues Festival 2012 paidduesfestival.com

History:

The rapper Murs created the Paid Dues festival in 2006. Murs co-headlined and performed a set as part of Felt, his group with Atmosphere’s Slug and Ant. Other acts on the bill included El-P, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali and Living Legends. The show’s highlight came when the rapper Cage jumped into the audience during his raucous set and when he tried to get back on stage had to convince security that he was actually the one performing.

The event was so successful that the following year Paid Dues moved to the National Orange Show event center in San Bernardino, California, where it could accommodate more acts on more stages. In 2010, Ice Cube headlined a star-studded bill that also included 9th Wonder, Tech N9ne, Raekwon and Tha Dogg Pound, among others. Last year, Mos Def and Talib Kweli reunited Black Star at Paid Dues, in addition to the appearance of Immortal Technique, Bun B, E-40 and Slaughterhouse, making the festival one of rap’s most important events.

Artists To See:

This year’s Paid Dues Festival has perhaps the best, most comprehensive bill of its seven-year history. Here are a few good reasons to go:

Wu-Tang Clan

One of the most influential, noteworthy and largest rap groups of all time, the Wu-Tang Clan has delivered classic albums as a group and as solo acts (1995’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” by Chef Raekwon and 2000’s “Supreme Clientele” by Ghostface Killah, among others). Thanks to the stark production from The RZA and his stable of protégés, the Wu-Tang’s gritty sound provided New York rap in the mid-1990s a much-needed jolt when it was losing ground to West Coast gangster rap and the emerging bounce from the South. The death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in 2004 means that we will never have a full reunion of the Wu-Tang Clan, but with nearly 20 years of hits in its extensive catalog, the Staten Island crew typically delivers a dazzling show.

 

Odd Future

Sometimes labeled as the second coming of the Wu-Tang Clan, this Los Angeles-based crew features a sprawling organization of artists whose styles and sounds are as diverse as they are dramatic. Founder and producer Tyler, The Creator is the crew’s defacto frontman, thanks in part to the success of his “Yonkers” single, “Goblin” album and guest appearance on Game’s “Martians vs. Goblins” with Lil Wayne. Singer Frank Ocean’s “Novacane” was a dusted ode to the impact of hard drugs. The new album, “The OF Tape Vol. 2,” and their Adult Swim TV series, “Loiter Squad,” show the crew’s presence as supreme entertainers.

 

Kendrick Lamar

It’s easy to see why this Top Dawg Entertainment rapper has the endorsement of Dr. Dre. Kendrick Lamar has released a string of acclaimed mixtapes and a stellar album, “Section 80.” More recently, the Compton rapper has appeared on the Game’s song “The City,” and his latest single, “The Recipe,” featuring Dr. Dre, premiered this week. K. Dot has the winning mix of insightful commentary, vivid wordplay and the ability to pick top-shelf production. Lamar’s forthcoming “Good Kid in a Mad City” will be released in conjunction with Aftermath and Interscope, marking the first time since the Game that Dr. Dre will be releasing a rapper from the Los Angeles area.

 

Three 6 Mafia

One of the most overlooked groups in rap history, the Memphis-based Three 6 Mafia started off with six members and has now been whittled down to its most essential two: Juicy “J” and DJ Paul. As producers, the pair created the get buck style of rap that was the direct precursor and foundation for crunk. As artists, they’ve been cranking out hits since the mid-1990s, from “Tear Da Club” to “Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body).” Juicy “J” has also emerged as a formidable solo artist, thanks to his extensive work with Wiz Khalifa and his “Rubba Band Business” mixtapes.

 

Living Legends

Murs, of course, is a member of this eclectic mix of California artists who pioneered the idea of non-gangster West Coast artists becoming successful independent artists. Eligh, Biscasso, ASOP, Murs, Sunspot, The Grouch, Scarub and LuckyIam.PSC started putting in work in the 1990s and collectively and individually have released scores of projects and toured the globe. Their appearance as a top performer at Paid Dues signals the success of the truly independent rap act.

 

When and Where:

Saturday April 7, 2012

National Orange Show Events Center
689 South E Street, San Bernardino, CA 92408
Doors open at noon.

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

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