2010 Paid Dues Music Festival

The annual Paid Dues music festival, now in its 5th year, is one of the most prominent hip-hop festivals in the United States. Similar to Rock the Bells, Paid Dues is a day-long music event, featuring both independent and mainstream hip-hop artists. This year’s headliners were Ice Cube, Murs & 9th Wonder, Tech N9ne, and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Artists performed at two different stages, the Paid Dues stage (indoor) and the Dues Paid stage (outdoor).

The indoor stage featured the more established artists, while the outdoor stage featured independent artists. The first few acts in the outdoor stage ranged from female emcee Hopie Spitshard to the group Potluck, the self-described “stoners from Humboldt.” There were also giveaways from this stage, as well as freestyle battles from audience members. Later in the night, Ice Cube’s cousin Del tha Funky Homosapien and the L.A. collective Freestyle Fellowship headlined the Dues Paid stage.

In the indoor stage, Sick Jacken and Cynic performed the energetic show Psycho Realm is known for, inducing mosh pits in the crowd. Followed Psycho Realm was Dilated Peoples, another L.A. based underground hip-hop group with growing mainstream success. Performing for a packed indoor stage as weed smoke filled the air, Raekwon performed both his solo material and material from the Wu-Tang Clan, while also paying his respect to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Gangsta rap was well represented with Tha Dogg Pound (Daz Dillinger & Kurupt), along with the headliner Ice Cube. Murs was a present throughout the festival, and his set included “L.A.,” songs from the 3:16 project with 9th Wonder, and a song that brought Sick Jacken out to the stage once again. Ice Cube energized the crowd with some of his classics including “It Was a Good Day” and “Check Yourself,” as well as debuting a new song from his upcoming album.

Overall, it was a great festival, the only problems were that some of the set times got changed around last minute, and having two stages meant not being able to listen to everybody. Other than that, Paid Dues showed how, for a day, an empty field in San Bernardino could transform into a showcase of some of the best hip-hop L.A. has to offer.

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Nortec Collective: Revitalizing Musical Art

By Violeta Lerma

Since La Gente newsmagazine printed a review of Nortec Collective’s “Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3” in spring of 2006, the group has entered into new territory receiving the 2009 Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Album and Best Recording Package. The five-member group has since become four and has has opted to split their act into smaller collaborations instead of performing together. Here is a quick recap.

Nortec, the musical style, blends electronic beats with the rhythms of Mexican norteño, banda, and tambora music. The name is a combination of norte, referring to northern Mexico (not norteño, as commonly thought) and techno. Nortec music exploded onto the Tijuana underground music scene in 1999 after Ramón Amezcua, under the stage name Bostich, digitally processed a sampler of drum, tuba, and accordion recordings to produce the dance hit “Polris.”

Fellow music producers creating more tracks that Bostich, Fussible (Pepe Mogt) and producer Melo Ruiz compiled into “The Nor-tec Sampler.” Thus Nortec Collective was born. However, there is more to Nortec Collective than innovative music; at its heart is the spirit of collaboration. “With the Collective, we invited a bunch musicians and artists to collaborate,” Mogt said in an interview with “We created Nortec to be part of an aesthetic, not only the music, but graphic design, as well.”

Colectivo Visual (Visual Collective), a group of designers and video performances artists, take care of the visuals of Nortec’s live shows as a compliment to the music. The resulting aesthetic is an amalgamation of graphic design, animation, short films, creative lighting and of course, Nortec music.

Undoubtedly, Nortec Collective’s productions require elaborate technology. “Nortec has always been creating music based on the technologies available,” Bostich said in an interview with La Gente. They use technology such as the Tenori-on, a handheld interface that programs musical notes into LED switches,a fruitful decision, for in 2008, they received yet another Grammy nomination for the album “Tijuana Sound Machine by Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich and Fussible” (Nacional Records).

While electronic beats are standard for each song, Nortec Collective “essentially will always be an instrumental Norteño-Electronic collaboration, ” Bostich said to La Gente. “If we were to mix in Mariachi, for example, our music would seem fake. Although our music will always be electronic, we will continue to use live instruments to bring about the Tijuana soundtrack that has been our lives.”

Previously printed Winter 2009