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Paid Dues Hip Hop Festival this Saturday

Posted by novoscene on June 12, 2008

Oakland’s Hieroglyphics are on the bill for Saturday.

UPDATE: We just got the news that Saturday’s Paid Dues concert in Berkeley has been canceled. Find on more information on refunds on the festival website.

Underground hip hop heads rejoice-your time is here. As the 3rd annual Paid Dues Festival swings through Berkeley this Saturday, so come the legions of dreadlock sporting, Mos Def quoting, 50 Cent dissing, super lyrical MC’s and bedroom DJ’s that have followed the fest’s Pied Piper call for Real Hip Hop since it’s debut 3 years ago.

Armed with backpacks full of promo mix CD’s, bottled water, fliers for the next hot open mic night and an encyclopedic knowledge of rap history, they’ll descend on the Berkeley Community Theater for an afternoon of serious rhyme saying, beat breaking and head nodding courtesy of a line up that includes Mos, Rakim, De La Soul, Gza and Oakland’s Hieroglyphics and Blackalicious. Along with the Rock the Bells festival that takes place later this summer, the case could be made that Paid Dues is one of the best things to happen to hip hop since Black Moon first started rocking backpacks in the early 90’s.

The brainchild of uber MC Murs 3:16 from the Living Legends crew, Paid Dues is a national touring festival that celebrates the non-mainstream artist. The festival name comes from the concept of Paying Your Dues-grinding and hustling your way up from the bottom of the barrel to the top spot-from carrying the DJ’s crates and sneaking in clubs through the exit door to headlining Madison Square Garden. These are the artists you usually won’t find on MTV and KMEL but who play a critical role in promoting hip hop as a culture and not just a marketing tool for high end Vodka. They’ve amassed loyal followings through independent hustling, creating buzz on sites like Myspace and Imeem and generally working their asses off to get their music to the people-from pushing their product on the BART platform during rush hour to slipping promo CD’s into copies of local weekly newspapers.

Little Brother at Paid Dues 2008

While not always the case, underground heads are usually known more for a dedication to craft than cash and lean more towards the anti capitalism, left of center side of things than most of the artists found on KMEL and the latest Billboard top 10. This tendency has led to the branding of all underground rap as “Conscious” and focused more on social justice and everyday life than spinning rims and Escalades. And while artists like the aforementioned Mos, De La and Little Brother and are active in grassroots politics and organizing endeavors, they-along with MC’s like Supernatural, GZA and Yak Ballz are just as likely spit rhymes about lyrical murder or whacked our social observations as they are to drop a track supporting the democratic presidential nominee.

Chances are, if you’re a hip hop head, backpacker, activist rapper or the like you’ve already got your ticket and are on your way to camp out overnight next to the stage. But if you’re just entering the underground then this show just might change your mind about the culture and what’s really going down in the bedroom studios and freestyle ciphers around the country.-Kwan

Paid Dues Festival
1900 Allston Way, Berkeley

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