Odd Future frontman Tyler, the Creator is a crowdsurfer. So is Long Island emcee R.A. the Rugged Man. Tellingly, it should come as no surprise that at the 7th annual Paid Dues Festival, held on April 7th in San Bernardino, California, neither of these radical rappers missed the oppourtuity to dive into a sea of admiring fans. And while they most certainly attract different crowds, the two acts are a perfect distillation of the beauty of Paid Dues, which annually unites heavy-hitting mainstays like the Wu-Tang Clan, Three 6 Mafia, and Dipset with up-and-coming hip-hoppers (think Mac Miller, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Kendrick Lamar) and unknown acts all in the name of independent hip-hop music.
The songs were diverse, a grab bag of trip-hop, gangsta rap, a capella freestyles--even hardcore metal--and the crowd mirrored these various aesthetics. Youngsters donning Supreme five-panel hats, Ray-Bans, and The Hundreds tees mingled with veteran listeners still rocking New Era snapbacks, Air Jordans, and LRG gear. Nevertheless, everyone was there to enjoy both new talent and long-established veterans perform their best jams.
There was an intimacy that you wouldn’t expect from a large music festival, a bewildering closeness between the performers and the audience—who became one in those frequent instances of crowdsurfing. Whether it was the atmosphere or the marijuana, we’ll never know, but the Paid Dues festival was definitely something to remember.
Cunninlynguists start their set off with loads of energy
A young, hip duo relax between sets
People Under the Stairs frontman Thes One gets up close and personal with the crowd.
One of a few quiet moments at April 7th's Paid Dues Festival.
People Under the Stairs DJ Double K steps away from the turn tables to drop some lyrics.
A Living Legends fan raises the group's L sign.
Living Legends gets the crowd hyped.
After a quick dive into the audience, a now shirtless and shoeless Tyler, the Creator emerges to continue the OFWGKTA set.
Written by Brandon Jones