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Pd 11 Acts Final

Murs is my best friend. Thanks to the dreadlocked Living Legend, underground hip-hop heads finally have our very own musical Mecca, in the form of an all-day, three-stage lyrical smorgasbord known simply as Paid Dues. The festival, now in its sixth year, comes to San Bernardino’s NOS Events Center on April 2nd. With Black Star headlining it promises to be worth the $48+fees for entry. However, if the chance to see the reunion of two of the greatest emcees a beat has ever known isn’t enough to motivate you, here’s four more reasons to pay your dues and cop a spot at Paid Dues:

1) Rap battles
If you ever watched 8 Mile and fantasized about going to “The Shelter”, now is your chance. A new addition for 2011, the Grindtime Now Stage is hosting a series of heavyweight rap battles that should help break up the monotony of a day full of standard sets. Blu & Fashawn trading bar(b)s with DJ Exile on the decks has the potential to be a showstopper.

2) Black Hippy
The best rap group you haven’t heard of has a midday slot on the west-coast-themed Dues Paid Stage and this may be the last chance to see these guys before they blow up beyond recognition. My man Murs himself has called Black Hippy – an LA collective comprised of Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q – “My favorite group in the world right now.” Though the quartet has yet to release an album together, YouTube confirms that the longtime friends pass the mic with an eerily N.W.A.-esque rapport. Plus, they’re sandwiched between another up-and-comer, Dom Kennedy, and the man who introduced ghost riding to the world, the indomitable Mistah F.A.B.… definitely peep-worthy.

3) Immortal Technique
Words cannot do justice to the intensity of a live Immortal Technique performance. I caught the tail end of his set while waiting in line for Rock the Bells in 2008 – chills all over, even from 300 feet away. Go at your discretion. No guarantees that you return the same person.

4) Dead Prez
I can’t think of a better time to see this endlessly opinionated duo. The music – likely to be a combination of Let’s Get Free-era classics (see: “Hip-Hop” & “Mind Sex”) and newer cuts from the Turn Off the Radio series (see: “Beauty Within”, a classy remake of B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You”) – is almost of secondary importance here. & M1 always pepper their shows with political commentary, and given the state of the world today, this set is sure to be a firestorm. Don’t get me started on how Asher Roth gets higher billing than icons like Dead Prez (really? REALLY?).

More info can be found at

Full disclosure: Murs isn’t really my best friend. Truthfully, I’ve never met the man. But I do own his Murs is My Best Friend album.

Preivew by Noah Sneider