2008 Paid Dues Festival Review: Part II

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Ground Control's coverage of the Paid Dues Festival is in three parts. This is Part II. Click here to jump back to Part I or here to read Part III .

I wasn't prepared for Hieroglyphics. I'd seen the logo on t-shirts and stickers, I bought Handsome Boy Modeling School, which led me to Deltron 3030, but I didn't connect Del or the three-eyed face to Hiero. So I wasn't ready to get knocked on my ass by the Oakland crew, since as far as I knew, hieroglyphics was merely how Egyptians communicated.

Coming out minus Del and A-Plus, Hiero ran through “Phesto D” and “After Dark” with practiced ease. No one member took the lead, and unlike Boot Camp Clik, whose set focused more on the individual members and less on the group contributions, this one had a bit of everything from the back catalog. The swelling crowd got hit with couple of tracks from Full Circle, and were even treated to Souls of Mischief's “93 'Til Infinity.” If Visionaries was party rap, Hieroglyphics seemed more about the positivity of bringing everyone together, throwing up circle gestures, inspiring awkward dancing from the kids standing by the soundbooth, and even the beginnings of an impromptu breakdance circle.

I'll say this—regardless of the billing order, it seemed like Living Legends was the headliner. This may very well be a no-brainer—hip-hop fans attending a Murs-curated show would obviously want to see the man and the rest of his crew in action—but as the evening wore on it would become clear that Hiero and Living Legends played to the largest and most vocal crowds. Seemingly the only crew with their entire roster on stage, LL ended up running into mic shortages, meaning that depending on the song, Scarub or Murs might hand off their mics to Eligh or Sunspot Jonz. Add to that a few kids carrying around signs promoting the forthcoming The Grouch album and Living Legends' The Gathering EP, and there was almost an army on stage to match the army of fans they seemed to command in the audience, who were swaying, waving, screaming and bouncing along with whoever didn't have a mic in his hand at the time.

The Gathering provided the first two tracks of the set, after which The Grouch announced that they'd play some old ones, and the DJ launched into 3MG's “2010.” Eventually, the Legends formed a sort of impromptu can-can line (minus the really high kicks and short skirts) during “Rabbit Hole,” or jumped off stage to lean over barricades and rap directly to the fans stretching for even a small touch of their heroes. Some might say that Murs' Something About Mary hair was the main attraction of the evening, with the tips a good eighteen inches above the top of his head, but that would be selling the rest of the group's performances short. Eligh's Speed Racer flow took center stage towards the end of the set, as purple lights came up and the open strains of “Never Falling Down” started to bleed through the speakers. As it faded out, the group formed a tableau that spelled out “LIVING” as the lights dropped and their set came to a close.

Soon Murs was back on stage to introduce his special guest (“It's not Ant. I already said that earlier”) Psycho Realm. Slinging a harder brand of hip-hop than the acts that came before them, they performed a handful of songs including “Showdown” to a rapidly dwindling crowd. Jacken tried to tempt the crowd, saying “I got some mosh pit music for you,” but most of them were more interested in the giant slices of gooey cheese pizza for sale outside the venue.

By this time, four straight hours of jockeying for position in the photo pit and hunger had taken their toll on the Ground Control team, and after snapping off a few shots of Jedi Mind Tricks, we finally had to step out for air and sustenance. The members of the Jersey/Philly crew did their best to entertain the crowd, but it was already starting to shrink, and would continue to for the rest of the evening.

Read 2008 Paid Dues Part I

For more information:

Living Legends
Psycho Realm
Jedi Mind Tricks


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