LIVE REVIEW: Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival 2012 @ NOS Events Center, San Bernardino 4/7/12
The 9th annual Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival took place this past weekend at the NOS Events Center In San Bernardino, CA. The festival featured some of the best hip-hop acts of past and present from different cultures all over the US and even some international artists. The crowd portrayed the same — with people of every color, shape, and size ready to enjoy a beautiful day of great music.
Upon arriving to the venue, the sounds of Wu Tang Clan could be heard from the parking lot. Wu Tang played the main stage to a big turnout even though they were scheduled so early in the day. Wu Tang’s entire set was a big crowd singalong, guys and girls of all ages were rapping along to “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and “Triumph.” A couple of concert participants had to be pulled to the side due to heat exhaustion or way too much drinking.
Directions to the other stages were not very clear, and security wasn’t doing the best job at keeping walkways open. When finally making it into the huge plane hangar where the Dues Paid stage was, Ab-Soul had already played a few songs. There were a ton of people trying to catch a glimpse of the Top Dawg Ent. rapper through the clouds of smoke. He played “Black Lip Bastard” and the fans were loving every minute of it.
Immediately following Ab-Soul, Los Angeles natives Self Scientific came on. It was very disappointing to see a lot of people leave — choosing instead to watch Doomtree or RA The Rugged Man on the other stages. When Chace Infinite and DJ Khalil began, it didn’t matter who was in attendance, everyone there was rocking out to Self Scientific. They played songs off of “Change” and “The Self Science” as well as some new songs. Chace Infinite talked a bit on their status of recording a new album, touring, and the state of rap music.
After a much needed break, we returned just in time to for Carson, CA emcee Ras Kass. From the start he tried to push peoples’ buttons in true Ras Kass form with some very blunt remarks. He dug deep into his catalog of songs like “Nature Of The Threat,” “Conceited Bastard,” “Golden Chyld,” and “Hip Hop Now.” From the beginning of his set there were multiple request for “Holes In The Ozone” and when he started the song the fans responded by rapping word for word.
We made our way outside to the Paid Dues stage and were able to catch a little bit of Hieroglyphics‘ set. The main stage area was packed to capacity with no way of going through the crowd. We decided to head back for Psycho Realm. Security had blocked off the entrance of the Dues Paid Stage saying it had reached capacity. After some careful planning amongst the attendees, we rushed our way past security and through the doors. We made it inside in time to catch “Unknown Soldier,” “The Big Payback,” and “Showdown.” At this point, much of the crowd had become rowdy due to excessive drinking, restlessness, or other. A lot of shoving, stumbling, and some arguing ensued on various occasions.
When Dilated Peoples took the stage, the music hangar was filled to capacity. Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience, and DJ Babu were greeted by an overwhelming amount of cheers. DJ Babu took his place behind the turntables and quickly started their set which included songs “This Way,” “Work the Angles,” “The Platform,” “Worst Comes To Worst,” etc… During the song “Service” rappers Evidence and Rakaa let the spotlight be entirely on DJ Babu. And he embraced the task by captivating the audience through his scratching and mixing, showing why he is a member of The World Famous Beat Junkies. When Dilated Peoples concluded their set, Evidence continued on playing a couple of songs off his solo album Dogs And Cats. He was joined on stage by rapper Fashawn and rapped/producer extraordinaire Alchemist for the song “Far Left.”
We thought the crowd had reached a climax by this time but it had just started making its ascent. DJ Quik came on and instead of going straight into his songs, he decided to flex his skills behind the turntables proving to everyone that he is a legitimate DJ and it’s not just a part of his name. When he started the beat for “Sweet Black Pussy” everyone went crazy for the next 40 minutes singing along to west coast classics like “Down, Down, Down,” “Tha Ho In You,” and “Way To Funky.” DJ Quik teased Dr. Dre‘s presence a few times, before introducing long time friend Suga Free. There were a couple of fights that broke out during his set and a poor attempt at starting a fire. Since the doors were still blocked due to capacity, waves of people continued to rush into the venue. Suga Free performed the song, “Why U Bullshittin?,” then performed songs “Hand In Hand” and “Get Tha Money.” DJ Quik ended his set DJing and getting the crowd ready for Kendrick Lamar.
We prepared ourselves for the unexpected before Kendrick Lamar came on, but to our surprise about half the crowd left. The hype man in between sets did a great job of getting everyone excited for the closing act. It was difficult hearing anything that was coming out of the speakers when Kendrick Lamar finally appeared on stage. Then “Fuck Your Ethnicity” came on and Kendrick did his best at controlling the crowds tempo by keeping the energy up. He was very entertaining jumping around the stage, going into random freestyles and even yelling his lyrics at times. He played the songs “P&P,” “Hiiiipower,” “Hol’up,” and “A.D.H.D.” While Kendrick was talking between songs fellow rapper Schoolboy Q made a surprise appearance. Schoolboy Q had came home from tour earlier that day and upon arrival went straight to the Paid Dues Festival from the airport. He had even tweeted a picture earlier in the day about his attempt to attend. Everyone quickly began to request “Michael Jordan,” in which Kendrick and Schoolboy responded with the song, showing off their chemistry and fast dynamic flows. It was really cool to see Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q stay on stage, showing support for their labelmate and friend. Kendrick Lamar ended the night with, “Rigamortus” which served as the perfect closer to a full day of great hip-hop music. It’s always unfortunate that one can not catch every act there and the choice one makes can sometimes define their entire day. Fortunately for us, we had no regrets.
Click here for more crazy-ass photos of Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival 2012.