Paid Dues - San Manuel Amphitheater - 3/30/13
Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival
San Manuel Amphitheater
Traffic was hellish. Parking was a mess, the outhouses were a disaster, the lines for food were ridiculously long, and one edifice labeled "will call" was not, in fact, will call. The dust was Coachella-like, and after the boiling sun set it was freezing. Cell phone service was spotty. Sound from two of the stages bled into each other, and one merch booth's sound system was so loud you couldn't hear the show being performed nearby.
See also: Our Paid Dues slideshow
Still, Paid Dues was a success. Girls wearing "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" t-shirts (and little else) mingled with face-tatted dudes wearing "We Trippy Mane" sweatshirts and conscious dudes talking about "real hip-hop." If we learned anything, though, it's this: Hip-hop is back, if it was ever really gone. Below are reviews of four noteworthy sets.
Freddie (Gangsta) Gibbs came to L.A. from Gary, Indiana, and it doesn't look like he's going back anytime soon. If the head to toe Dodgers gear/colors he donned didn't make this point, his medical-grade marijuana and cut upper body (as if ready for a Men's Health photo-shoot) did.
Looking like Tupac with two glistening Jesus-pieces dangling from his neck, Gibbs' stage presence and solid delivery made him one of the best festival performers, who probably went below the radar of most attendees. (Killer Mike also gets this nod.) Though Trinidad James undeservedly stole the spotlight from other performers near his time slot, Gibbs' rattled speakers and inspired audience members with tracks from his stellar 2012 mixtape Baby Face Killa, as well as those from his Shame EP with DJ/producer Madlib.