By Matthew Bramlett |Arts & Entertainment Editor|
Hordes of hip-hop heads of all shapes and sizes descended on the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino for the seventh annual Paid Dues Festival on April 7.
The day-long event showcased the finest acts in independent hip-hop, from underground acts such as K. Flay and Rah Digga to established groups such as Hieroglyphics and Dipset.
Staten Island’s own Wu-Tang Clan was the biggest draw of the festival, with thousands of fans crowding the main stage to catch a glimpse of one of hip-hop’s most influential music collectives.
“If it wasn’t for the west coast, 36 Chambers would not have gone platinum,” said RZA to a cheering crowd, in reference to the group’s debut album that put them on the map. “This is for all of you who believe that Wu-Tang is forever.”
Wu-Tang performed in support of their currently untitled new album, which is set to drop this May.
The event was put on through a collaboration between California rapper Murs and underground culture collective Guerilla Union.
“There’s fans of Wu-Tang that have kids who are fans of Odd Future,” said Murs. “My dream was to bring them together.”
The festival was divided into three different stages: The Paid Dues stage, which hosted the likes of Wu-Tang, Dipset and Odd Future; the Dues Paid stage, which featured more underground groups such as People Under the Stairs and Cunninlynguists; and the Monster Energy stage, which featured prominent and established acts such as Three-6 Mafia and Brother Ali.
In all, more than 40 acts and groups packed the NOS Events Center, creating an atmosphere rife with subwoofers and screaming fans. The hosts included prominent LA-based rapper 2Mex, as well as DJ Bizzy and Hollywood Holt.
Throughout the day, fans were treated to the larger than life personalities that many of the performing acts were known for.
During her set on the Monster Energy stage, Rah Digga set the record straight on an alleged diss to her and MC Lyte from Odd Future mastermind Tyler, the Creator during her song “The Nigga in Me.”
“You don’t have to pay homage to me,” said Digga. “But you will respect me.”
Oscar winners Three-6 Mafia owned the Monster Energy stage, drawing arguably one of the largest and loudest crowds at the festival. The group, consisting of Juicy J, DJ Paul and Lord Infamous, performed a number of singles from their upcoming album, Laws of Power, which is set to drop sometime this summer.
Overall, the event was proof that bridging the generational gap between the old school hip-hop scene of the late 80s and early 90s with the music of today can be a massive success. With the kinds of acts that performed this year, one can only wonder what Murs and his collaborators have in store for next year.