We usually take Mondays to remember a West Coast Classic, but today we have something special. Tune in tomorrow for your West Coast Classic for the week.
As some of you read last week, I asked anyone who was thinking of going to the Paid Dues Festival to hit me up. Brillyancestar (pictured above with Evidence and Rakaa Iriscience) hit me up about it, so I hooked him up with a couple of tickets, some press passes, and a photo pass in exchange for coverage of the event. Just as promised, Brillyancestar followed through (on-time, nonetheless) with an in-depth report on the festival, so here it is...
This is brillyancestar, government name…. Bruce Smith. I made a statement before on how hip-hop was not dead, and I knew that due to the fact I got to go to concerts with REAL artist and see people enjoying themselves peacefully. I’ve shouted out the Paid Dues Festival several times, and now 80 has blessed me with the opportunity to bring you a review. I could just tell you how every act did, but I’m reviewing the whole show. I may be biased…. but oh well, I can’t help it I like real music.
Like your average hip-hop cat, I arrived late with my backpack on my back; the show however (unlike Rock the Bells) was on time. I arrived around 4:05 in the middle of the Evidence set (missing the Pigeon John and Los Nativos, and Hanger 18 performances.) Ev was on stage with Alchemist and Montage (old Xzibit protégé), yet Babu and Rakaa, like Ev promised on Myspace, weren’t. I came in perfect time, because when Evidence finished “Mr. Slow Flow” Rakaa and Babs came out. They ripped the stage then bounced. I decided to go see where exactly a media pass would get me. I proceeded to the VIP section to see what was going on. The whole show was set up different than “Rock the Bells”. Rock the Bells had their stage set up outside, with fans standing on uneven gravel. It was burning hot (due to the fact it was summer); the VIP section was set up on the side of the stage, and behind the stage. Paid Dues was set up with a huge warehouse. The VIP section was in another building behind the warehouse. Inside it had food and drinks for sale, tables and chairs, and a huge screen that showed what the screens in the performance area was showing. I liked this setup better, because the performance area was in doors (and air conditioned), the ground was even and smooth in the performance area, and in the VIP you could see when the next act came on stage. I sat down to begin to jot down info on the show, but then I seen Devin the Dude take stage so I jetted back to the performance area.
Devin’s set was cool and laid back, just like Devin’s persona in his music. His singing sounded just like it does on the track, which is good, because as most of you know, most singers DON’T sound the same in person. He performed some new, some old, some of his songs, some of his features. Of course he did his “I just wanna….” Verse from “Chronic 2001”, it’d only be right him being out here on the west. Devin’s performance was great. I went back to the VIP to start writing down more on the show, but then I decided I didn’t feel like it, I’d just write more later on after the show, and check more of the areas of the show out. One of the great things about being at a show like this is the peacefulness. Anytime people bumped into each other, they both apologized. I found myself apologizing several times. It seemed as if people didn’t want anything to happen. I’ve worked at events before as event staff, and you see people mad dogging, and acting hard looking for problems, but Paid Dues was the opposite I got to see “The poppers pop, and the breakers break” back in the performance area during the Zion I and Grouch performance. Zion I came out by his self at first, Grouch was late, which is funny, because Zion I is from Oakland, and Grouch is from Los Angeles, which is only an hour away. They tore the stage down. After their set, I had to go meet “my friend” at the gate.
On the way there, I noticed Dilated Peoples had a merchandise booth set up. I wanted to go holler at them, but I had to go get my friend. After I met up with my girl (let it slip) I went directly back to the Dilated Booth. There was a long line of people to speak with them. Rakaa and Evidence spoke to everyone individually, and took pictures together with everyone who requested one. They were selling the Evidence CD “The Weatherman” for $10. (It’s like $11.99 in the store at the least) Vinyl, Evidence T-shirts, and giving away signed Dilated posters. When I got to the front, I asked Rakaa when “The Crown of Thorns”(his solo) was dropping; he said he was still in studio working on it. I asked Evidence why Phonte (of Little Brother) only did a chorus on “Let Yourself Go” on “The Weatherman”, he said that they were working on a remix with him doing a verse, but he didn’t want Phonte to steal the show on his album. He also said originally, he thought Phonte would sing a hook, but he wrote and rapped one instead, and Ev liked it, so they just went with that. I took a picture with them both and went back to the performance area. When I got back, Cage was on stage. I’ll be honest. I’m not really a huge Cage fan. I started to watch, but I seen breakers breaking to my left, and started to watch them. Apparently, a lot of people weren’t huge Cage fans because the people near the back of the performance area had gathered around the breakers. After Cage finished his performance I went back to the VIP area to eat.
It was about 6:45, the show was a little off track, (25 mins) but trusts me, it’s normally worse. They announced that Murs and Slug would be at the meet and greet at 7:30. I seen the Visionaries were on next, and I knew they’re GREAT performers. I caught them at Rock the Bells. Their set was scheduled to be over far before 7:30, however I’d miss the Mr. Lif performance to talk to Murs and Slug. I felt it was worth it. I went back to catch the Visionaries, who like I predicted, tore it up, then I went back to see Murs and Slug.
When I got back, there was a huge line. When I got to the back, my girl started talking to some lady about something. She was there with someone that looked to be a friend, but I later found out was her son. I assumed (you know what that does) she was there to watch over her son. I was completely wrong. They lady (I wish I got her name) was a huge Atmosphere fan. Not a groupie, but a fan. She told me she met a man who she later found out was a drug dealer. Someone owed him a debt, and gave him all his cd’s until he could pay him off. The dealer dude called her up, and told her she had to hear these CDs. It was Atmosphere. She loved Slugs way with words, and immediately put her son on to Atmosphere. Dope. As we sat in line, we talked about Atmosphere, Murs, how I found out about Felt and Atmosphere, how corny some other artists were, and Jean Grae. She never heard of Jean Grae, and I REALLY wanted to see her perform. My girl REALLY wanted to see Jean Grae. The Lady became nervous, as we got closer to the front of the line, I got nervous because the Mr. Lif performance was over. The huge screen in the VIP room flashed Jean Grae for a couple of minutes, and I wasn’t in the front of the line yet. My girl looked at me, and the lady told her she should leave. I wanted to leave myself, but I figured it’s only right I stay. My girl left, and I continued to talk to the lady and her son. We were right near the front when my girl texted me on how I was missing out…YAY. I teased the lady about her nervousness as we started off talking to the Visionaries. I had a couple of the members of the group and Zion I tag up the back of my notebook. (Grouch signed off posters and moved them to the side so people could just pick them up and keep it moving…can you say, impersonal?) I gave them all props on there performances (well deserved props) and then I spoke to the man, the myth, the living legend Murs. I thanked him for doing THE BEST LOS ANGELES ANTHEM EVER and gave him props on some of my other favorite songs. Before I talked to Slug, I told Murs he was a dope lyricist, but don’t run into me on XBOX Live, cuz I’d whoop his ass. He gave me his gamer tag. Don’t expect me to give that away. My girl came back in time to take a picture of Murs and me. Then I hollered at Slug, told him how I appreciated his music and how dope Felt is, then I took a picture of the lady and her son (I told her I would) with Slug, then I had my girl take a picture of me and Slug. I had them both sign my Felt comic book (Murs’ dad gave it to me at Rock the Bells) and then I rushed back to seen Jean Grae. I got back to see one song “Nonsense” off her Jeanius album, which she acknowledged had gotten bootlegged a lot, but it was ok, and was still coming out. She performed it perfect, I just wish I seen the rest of her performance. I went back to sit down cuz Brother Ali was next, and I really wanted to see him.
I came back when Ali took the stage. He performed a lot of new music of his album that’s about to come out, but bootleggers have already gotten to. I was blown away. I have his album “Shadows on the Sun” and I like it, but this album…. pick it up when it drops. You can’t always understand all of the lyrics when an artist performs, but I heard him clearly, and he killed it. Lyrically, this was a couple steps above “Shadows.” The breakers were going at it, but I couldn’t turn away. I had to hear this performance. When he got off stage, I returned back to the tables to take a break, bought a margarita, and then returned. Blackalicious took the stage next. I have to admit again, I’m not a fan of Blackalicious. I still watched the full performance. Remember when I mentioned you couldn’t fully understand all the lyrics on some performances? This is one of them. I don’t doubt Blackalicious brings it, but if you don’t know the lyrics prior to the performance, it’s not that good. Sage Francis came on next, his performance was decent, but the best part of his performance was when he left, and an Evil Kaneival (sp) clone came out, dissed Kanye (“Kanye is as much of a daredevil as he is an emcee” ouch) and then jumped over some mini buses on a little bike. This was the second to last act; I didn’t leave the performance area for long after this, because I wanted to see Felt from beginning to end. They came out with a song I never heard before, or at least didn’t recognize. (I know the whole Felt 2 CD, but I don’t remember all of Felt 1) They performed most of Felt 2, and Aneurysm, The Two, and Hot Bars from Felt 1. When they performed “Gangsta Ass Anthony” Murs Said “Murs two times with a L muthafucka”, then Slug asked him two times to repeat it, the second time he repeated it, he changed to “Murs two times with EL-P muthafucka” and El-P came out. He performed two songs, one of them I recognized “Crying” and another one I didn’t. Slug brought new verses for Aneurysm, and Marvin Gaye. His new verse for Marvin Gaye…man. I wish I recorded it, because it was WAAAAAAY better then the original, and maybe even most of the verses I’ve heard from him. They did a real good job performing Early Morning Tony; the crowd was definitely amped up for that song. Funny thing about the Felt performance, (besides Slug and Murs in between commentary, including Slug stopping Murs during “My lady Tonight” and telling him he wouldn’t get any ass for the night off of that song, to which many females disagreed, oh, and Murs saying he was the realest rapper out, cuz he was gonna perform breaker down like a shotgun, even though his mom was at the show) was all during the show, I had some Slug groupies behind me talking about how fine Slug was, and talking about all the things they’d like to do to him. When they were done performing, they explained the “Murs for President” banners. Murs said he signed to Warner brothers to be the representative for the underground. He said that if your going to deal with majors, you have to deal with politics, and he’d be willing to be the president for the underground. After that, he said that if he became president he’d change the national anthem. Then he performed “L.A.”.
The show was dope; the people were nice, the artist were humble (except Grouch). There was one fight, (unfortunately). The Event overall was great. Ohhh wait, if you’ve actually read this far. They’ve announced the Rock The Bells lineup. Wanna hear it, here go: Rage Against the Machine, Wu Tang Clan, Cypress Hill, The Roots, Nas, Mos Def, EPMD, Pharoahe Monch, MF Doom, Immortal Technique, Sage Francis, The Coup, Jedi Mind Tricks, Felt, Living Legends, Brother Ali, Cage, Mr. Lif, Grouch and Eligh, Hangar 18, Blueprint, Luck I Am, and Public Enemy. Hosted by Supernatural, Rahzel, and Hi-Tek. The Event is coming to New York, on July 28th, San Bernardino, CA August 11th, and San Francisco, CA August 18th. Yea, so basically I want to thank 80 for giving me this opportunity, this is the Juice Movement’s Bruce Smith, I’m out.