Murs’ Paid Dues festival connected divergent generations of Hip-Hop both underground and accessible for a smash success at the 2012 incarnation of the Hip-Hop celebration in San Bernardino on Easter eve. With a bill that included Doomtree, Living Legends, Odd Future, Wu-Tang Clan, Hieroglyphics and more, the stage was set for a vast spectrum of fans to get their fill of quality music – and that they did, with memorable sets from nearly all participants.
A major uptick in attendance this year still allowed for breathing room at a show where the emphasis is on anything but the bigger/louder/more lifestyle. This is a celebration of love for the true art form – something Murs has been very careful to cultivate over the years. The event, organized by Murs and Guerilla Union, wrapped up its seventh annual show with Dipset, Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller closing out its different stages.
Legendary Staten Island collective the Wu-Tang Clan brought the big crowds out in full force with an early-slotted 4pm set, a curious lineup decision given the group’s collective headliner reputation. Nevertheless, the early placement allowed fans the flexibility to bounce between Cunninlynguists, Mac Lethal, Brother Ali and beyond without the sensation of missing out on the heavy hitters.
After a blizzard of hits that included Bring da Ruckus from their debut 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), as well as Protect Ya Neck, Method Man and Gravel Pit, the group made way for followers Doomtree, the magnificent P.O.S. led rap collective from Minneapolis. The bandwagoners shuffled away from the main stage in droves after the Wu set, showing their ignorance for what was about to come and allowing a new crop of fans to fill in the pit – which we did with electric enthusiasm.
Doomtree followed the Wu with a high-energy set of catalogue-spanning material, including fan-favorite staple Heads Will Roll, Dessa and Stef standing out as character parameters and flow heavyweights among the group.
It was during the celebratory closer Team The Best Team that the collective converted the final holdouts within earshot. The entire crew leaped offstage and ran through the pit, immersing themselves in the connectivity with a passionate volley of energy and flow love from the crowd. Exhilaration is an understatement. That shit was magical.
On the Dues Paid stage next door, Psycho Realm and Dilated Peoples packed the stage and brought fire in the suffocating venue. Meanwhile, at the Monster Stage, Cunninlynguists and Mac Lethal dropped excitable sets for the fawning masses – there were no half-steppers on these stages, or the audience that crammed the warehouse to see them.
Stellar inter-member support and positive energy ruled the stage as Murs, Grouch, Eligh and the rest of the Living Legends crew stepped up with an hourlong set of classics. The mind truly reels at the live experience of this collective, built of rhymespitters who are driven by their relentless love of the art and pursuit of stylistic perfection.
Rhymesayers gemstone Brother Ali followed, pulling off butter-flow versions of various cuts from his catalogue while offering a steady sampling of new material from his upcoming album Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color – as well as a nearly 5-minute acapella rhyme that documented the mans’ struggles over the past two or three years. It was an immensely moving moment, for the poignance of the message as well as the intensity of performance.
Closing out the main stage, Dipset ran through a burst of cuts from their collective and individual catalogues including Hey Ma, Crunk Muzik, Dipset Anthem, Dipset (Santana’s Town) and Bout It, Bout It, among others. The crew, who is recording a hysterically anticipated reunion album, closed the set with a rendition of their 2010 single Salute. They were watched in the pit by earlier performers Odd Future, who get an obligatory mention for being on the bill. But fuck those guys.
Murs and Guerilla Union have done it again.