Paid Dues announces 2011 lineup, with E-40, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Bun B

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Slated to take over San Bernardino’s NOS Events Center on April 2, Paid Dues has booked its most varied and diverse lineup yet. In its sixth year, the West Coast’s premier subterranean-skewing rap festival has expanded to include anyone with an underground attitude.

What was once heavily dedicated to Rhymesayers-, Def Jux- and Living Legends-affiliated artists has evolved into something that better reflects the state of the current rap world. (See the full lineup here). The Paid Dues stage alone boasts everyone from Jive Records-signed Bay Area legend E-40 to cult-rap cook Lil B the Based God to the Shock G Trio (featuring former members of Digital Underground), Underground staples such as Immortal Technique and Talib Kweli will play alongside great white hope Asher Roth (with the producer Nottz). Southern rap icon Bun B plays the Paid Dues stage alongside Rawkus-era favorites Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

The lineup reflects the reality of the rap world circa 2011: Most of the inane orthodoxies that divided ‘underground’ versus ‘mainstream’ and ‘East’ versus ‘West’ versus ‘South’ scarcely exist outside of message board malingering. When guys such as former Paid Dues graduate El-P and Dungeon Family alum Killer Mike are working on a collaborative album, the idea of an ideologically consistent underground seems to be as anachronistic as camouflage shorts, Che hats and tired ‘real hip hop’ sloganeering.

This year’s bill also does an impressive job of recruiting Los Angeles’ most ballyhooed young rappers, including Nipsey Hussle, Black Hippy, Skeme, Dom Kennedy, Blu, Fashawn, U-N-I, Intuition and Casey Veggies.


Paid Dues may be the only festival of the year with kids boasting backpacks and chef’s hats. That’s a good sign. Expect San Bernardino to be cooking in April.

-- Jeff Weiss