Paid Dues independent hip-hop festival review


Sorry about the image … I shot this on my camera phone. It’s an image of Ice Cube before he hit the stage at the fifth annual Paid Dues independent hip-hop festival at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. For better images, check our stellar photographer John Valenzuela here.

I apologize in advance this is long but I wasn’t able to update the blog at the show.

Anyway, I wish Ice Cube would perform the full versions of ALL his songs (and he’s not the only one guilty of this … Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Tha Dogg Pound and even Tech N9ne did this among other artists).

To be fair, Cube did give full versions of “It Was A Good Day” and his new song “I Rep That West” but his set reminded me too much of his Rock The Bells set he had at the San Manuel Pavilion in mid 2009 and I had seen that. And this time Cube didn’t have W.C. like he did at Rock The Bells because he was performing in Italy, or at least that’s what Cube said. So Cube was joined by his son “Doughboy,” which is coincidently the name of Cube’s character in the movie “Boyz n the Hood.”

Favorites included Tha Dogg Pound (despite cutting their songs short) because they performed songs from Dr Dre’s “The Chronic,” “2001” and even “Above The Rim” where they performed “Big Pimpin.'” The group brought out The Lady of Rage, who performed her biggest hit “Afro Puffs,” and also Kurupt’s brother Roscoe (who performed a couple of verses too long it looked like judging from Daz and Kurupt’s reaction) and Soopafly.

Del Tha Funky Homosapien also tore through his set at the outdoor Dues Paid Stage going through classics like “Catch A Bad One,” “Mistadobalina” and his Gorillaz hit “Clint Eastwood” while Heiro member A-Plus was his hype man. Despite Ice Cube writing on his blog how he had never performed at a show with his cousin Del (and Del even mentioned Cube’s name on stage) there was no appearance from Cube during Del’s set.

Murs & 9th Wonder appeared to get much of the crowd to watch their performance (probably because they performed after the Dues Paid Stage headliner Del had finished) and had them on their feet. The group deserved the attention because they brought out crowd favorite Sick Jacken from Psycho Realm for their song “The Problem Is …” and put on a seamless set with songs like “L.A.” and “Silly Girl” among others. A crowd member asked for a song not performed by Murs & 9th but Murs politely said no. 

Freestyle Fellowship was tremendous but had their time and stage changed from what was on the original sheet AND went up against Tech N9ne so many of the audience members (I’m assuming) went to watch the Kansas City hip-hop artist. For those that stayed, Freestyle Fellowship put on a great show with songs like “Cornbread,” “Bullies of the Block,” and “Hot Potato” among other cuts.

Jay Electronica had a good but SHORT set (just 20 minutes) where he would unfortunately rhyme acapella during parts of his songs. This really hurt his hit “Exhibit C” hit because the instrumental really drives that song.

Overall the festival was fine but for whatever reason the overall flow of things seemed a little off (probably because set and time changes like Freeway and Jake One turning up at the Paid Dues Stage at 4 p.m. instead of being at the Dues Paid Stage at 7:20 p.m.).

Nonetheless, there were little gems throughout. MC Prototype really got the opening crowd involved and has a definite future, Hopie Spitshard is a future star if she can keep up her creativity and Dom Kennedy (and Curren$y) have a strong presence and rhyme style of a potential headliner if they can keep up their output also.

Others acts like Psycho Realm are insanely over (you really must see it in person) and just need the right hit to make themselves bigger stars while Dilated Peoples can still get the crowd going crazy off their numerous hits. Afro Classics also had the crowd firmly in their corner from their uptempo beats and strong lyrical skills.

I missed Shape Shifters but heard they were great and I really wanted to but still missed acts like Strong Arm Steady, Sean Price and Necro (and also R.A. The Rugged Man, Doomtree and others). I hope many come back next year.