So Saturday I ended up going to the 2nd annual “Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival” in San Bernadino. The event ended up selling out amazingly and I’m really glad I got to go. Rilla was also in the house doing coverage for hiphopdx. Since I wasn’t hooked up with a press pass and couldn’t take pics, hopefully he’ll be able to post any leftovers from what he got for them.
I did managed to get hooked up with the VIP treatment though. Turns out that Murs is a pretty big fight fan, and my boy Jaytan happens to manage a few fighters. Apparenly they ran into each other in Vegas so he hooked up the passes. We rolled in with Daniel Puder to do a little PR and enjoy the amenities while nodding our heads to some of the best hip-hop being put out today. We started out the night by going to the VIP area and introducing Dan and Murs, then we headed out to catch the show. We actually rolled in late because of some prior commitments, so we missed a few of the acts I was looking forward to, but here is the recap of those that we did catch.
At one point during her set Jean introduced herself to the crowd. “My name is Jean Grae, and I’m no new jack. If you hear a girl on an underground track, chances are it’s me”. Thinking over it, I have to say she has a valid point. I personally haven’t followed her too much, but I do see her name popping up on everybody’s CD. Of course that inevitably leads to the conversation about the lack of serious female MC’s in hip-hop, but I don’t want to take anything away from Jean herself. She put on a rather enjoyable set I must say, especially being so unfamiliar with most of her material. Apparently she’s got a new joint with 9th Wonder on the way, so keep your eyes out for that. She’s definitely one to watch and she’s already proven she has staying power.
Jean Grae (w/9th Wonder) – Each Mornin’ (clean)
Jay is a really big Brother Ali fan and it’s easy to see why. The man can flow and he makes songs with a message. There was a pretty decent sing along going when he broke into Forrest Whitaker, but there were some points during his set where I was wondering why the crowd wasn’t more into it. I guess he’s still a little unfamiliar to the masses at large. That should be changing soon though. He’s got a new album dropping April 10th. He knows most of ya’ll already have a bootleg, but he ain’t mad… anymore. I still haven’t heard anything but the single, Truth is Here butI’ll be checking it out when it drops.
Brother Ali – Rain Water
Earlier in the night I actually ran into Gift of Gab while walking through the crowd. I actually met him before a few years ago, and he was still just as cool as before. This makes for the 4th or 5th time I’ve actually seen them in the past year alone and the show rocked as usual. I was glad to see they brought the full show with the keyboard player who was at Detour as well. That guy can seriously steal the show.
Blackalicious – It’s Going Down
At this point in the night we ran out to peruse the merch booths and I copped quite a bit of swag. There were a couple of guys called the Bash Brothers hawking their double CD for 5 bucks. I figure that in 2 disks they’ve got to have at least $5 of decent tunes so I snagged one up. I haven’t listened to it yet, but when I get a chance I’ll post a review. One of the cats gave me his email addy as well, so maybe we’ll put up an interview and whatnot.
Interestingly enough there was also a booth full of El-P gear. Since I’m calling his new joint an early candidate for album of the year, I picked up quite a bit of stuff from there, including a limited edition 7-inch with remixes of Smithereens and The Overly Dramatic Truth. Seeing that I was a pretty big fan and was grabbing the last of several items they had in stock, one of the dudes working the booth told me to come back in about 30 minutes. So by the time we swung back around there was El-P himself just hanging out and keeping it low-key. Considering the venom the dude can pack into his rhymes and some past experiences with other celebrities I know, I was prepared for him to be a little stand-offish or abrasive, but I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I got to talk to him for a little bit and told him I had been bumping the album all week, including on the ride up from LA. I also told him we’re giving away a copy here on The Alternakids. He was real cool and laid back. Humble too considering how much press he’s getting nowadays. I also found out he was gonna be performing as a surprise guest which made my day.
Here’s the thing about Sage Francis… I still think he’s fucking crazy. Whereas this is a turn-off with me for some acts (*coughOFMontrealcough*), it actually works for Sage. This is my second time seeing him rock it and both times I’ve said to myself, you gotta get up on this dude. I mean I’ve known about him for a while and my friend Becky stalks him like he stalks Natalie Portman, but I still need to own more of his catalog. Judging from the crowd though, I don’t need to do any introduction for him because I’m the one who’s doing the sleeping here.
Sage Francis – Can I Kick It (live @ Ocean Mist)
Then it was time for the act everybody came to see. The man who put the whole thing together and his partner in crime from Minnesota. The crowd was as hype as it got all night when Murs and Slug took to the stage. Ant actually joined them as well from the DJ booth as they ran through the majority of Felt 2 and rocked a medley of tracks from the first album as well. Taking time in between songs to throw some witty banter around and take jabs at each other, both of these guys know how to put on an entertaining show that keeps the crowd involved.
Felt – The Two
At one point they took a break in the action to give props to the man who “started this whole independent hip-hop shit over on the east coast” and El-P walked on from the side of the stage to rock the new single Smithereens. A decent bit of the crowd got into it as he tried to get some call and response going for the Stop Cryin’ bits of the chorus, but I guess a lot of people are still unfamiliar with the song. There was a little bit more of a reaction when DJ Mr. Len came out to do the Company Flow classic Vital Nerve though. After El rocked his two songs he reminded everybody about his show tonight at the Troubador (Which I will be missing due to being down the street at work. I’ll see him at Coachella though). If you’re free and in LA tonight I’d strongly recommend checking it out. I’ve read some reviews, and even critics who aren’t into the whole Def Jux sound at all had to admit his show rocked.
Atmosphere (feat. El-P) – Homecoming
Then Felt came back to close the show out and Murs had a little bit of news for everybody. It seems as though his next album is going to be released by Warner proper now. Having already flirted with a major for the release of his last album, this was only the next logical step. He made a promise to keep it real “making underground raw shit” no matter what, and said that if he’s gotta play politics with the monster, he’s gonna be the damn President. We ain’t mad man… do your thing, it’s about time you blow up. Of course you already knew you had my vote.
After that Murs closed out the show with the new National Anthem, but we’ve already posted that here before. So today as a bonus I’ll put up a track featuring Murs that I’ve been dying to post since last fall from Oh-No’s Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms with Galt MacDermot.
Oh No (feat. Murs) – In This