Tomorrow will be the first day of Spring for 2013, and for many music fans that yearly change is most important because it means festival season is just around the corner. One upcoming festival that has Hip Hop heads patiently waiting to arrive is the annual Paid Dues Festival sponsored by Murs 3:16 and Guerilla Union.

This year’s Paid Dues will be headlined by prominent west coast rap group Black Hippy, but another rising Cali crew is ready to make their debut in San Bernardino. Sacremento-based Hip Hop collective First Dirt is about a take huge step forward in introducing their brand to the world.

Since 2010 Paid Dues has offered select independent performers the opportunity to appear at the festival. First Dirt (a group of musicians, artists, DJs, producers, and entrepreneurs) campaigned for 365 days to get added to line up garnering the support of fans and indie artists from across the nation.

Unlike the past three years, Murs decided to switch up the process for selection to the 2013 festival by asking fans at two of his Los Angeles shows to vote for which artists they felt should get a spot on the bill. First Dirt came out on top in the poll and now they are on their way to the stage at Paid Dues.

But before First Dirt hits the San Manuel Amphitheater on March 30th DZI: The Voice got the chance to interview each member to find out how they first connected with First Dirt, something most people don’t know about them, and what each person is looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues. Get to know the crew below.

Timothy Rhyme


Birth Name: Tim Morales

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Key Projects: Roadtrip The Mixtape Vol 1 & 2, For My Culture, The Trojan Horse, Vintage

Singles: “I Gotta Go”, “Grown Man”, “Ima Monster”

Musical Influences: Big L, Eminem, Crooked I, Grieves, Nas, Method Man

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

I was always drawn to it from seeing my older cousin and how he was. I ended up really learning the culture more and gravitated towards the emceeing side because of my interest in wordplay. I guess I just always liked the ability to express yourself in so many ways through Hip Hop.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

I am a co-founder and it all started in Sacramento in 2005. My friends and I decided to take our fate into our own hands, because at the time our own city wasn’t opening any doors for us. So we had a “DIY” mentality and ran with it. We always made sure we grew and took bigger steps from the last step and learned what we did wrong. We took chances and sacrificed the things most other rappers at the time wouldn’t. Our hustle always gave us an edge.

What’s one unknown fact about you?

Most people don’t know that my biological mother is a paranoid schizophrenic. One of the main reasons why I started writing was because I didn’t know how to cope with my reality so I created one. A reality where I was in control and where I got to decide what hurt and what didn’t; where I could release the pressures of the shame I carried. That’s why I always loved Hip Hop because whenever I told my story through rhyme I was greeted with love and praise. It made my reality bearable.

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

The thing I’m looking forward to the most is those 15 minutes on stage. I feel like I’ve hustled for years just for these 15 minutes. I’ve sacrificed and taken chances for this 15 minutes. I use to get this anxious feeling when I would see artists I respected and listened to get their time on the big stage. The thought of that person being me and there possibly being a young me in the crowd makes me emotional. I’m looking forward to the experience most people in my field will never get. I’m grateful.

To connect with Timothy Rhyme follow him @TimothyRhyme

Check out the video for Timothy Rhyme’s “Grown Man”:



Birth Name: Raimol Cortado

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Key Projects: Cumulus, The Rite-Off, The Imprint EP, No Filter EP, Propane Games: Vol 1 & 2, The Timepiece Mixtape: Vol. 1, 2, 3

Singles: “Back Doors”, “No Fumble”, “29 Sunset”, “The Kitchen”

Musical Influences: Nas, 2Pac, Hiero, Living Legends, Big Pun, Run DMC, Michael Jackson, Elvis, The Temptations, Teddy Pendergrass

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

The lifestyle of urban culture. It came from the inner city slums, and I saw people that made it out through art. I totally related to that, because I grew up poor and my fam always strived for a better life. As a youngster, I was always intrigued by graff, rap music, DJing, and b-boying. I dabbled in all those elements but always stuck to rhyming.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

I met Tim in 2010 at a show on Broadway in San Francisco and we kept in contact ever since. I would help push his music, and he pushed mine.  I joined First Dirt in 2011 before dropping my Rite Off album, and it’s been on since.

What’s one unknown fact about you?

 I have no secrets, lol. Just kidding. I’ve been performing since I was five years old. 

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

I’m look forward to being with first fam and rocking out in front of thousands of people. And I’m honored to share the stage with some of Hip Hop’s best. I grew up to some of those folks and still slap their music daily. So that’s big. And to show some of the other artists on the roster that we mean business. This is not a game to us. Much respect.

To connect with Rymeezee follow him at @Rymeezee

Check out the video for Rymeezee’s “The Recap” featuring June Jissle:

60 East


Birth Name: Jose F. Atilano

Hometown: Ontario, CA (Inland Empire)

Key Projects: The Amits Mixtape, The Introduction EP, The Documentary Mixtape, The Jump Off EP

Singles: “The Origin” Featuring Sly Boogy, “Making Me A Man”, “Like Father Like Son”, “Big Dreams”

Musical Influences: my brother/best friend Space Ghost (RIP) and every artist that came before me

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

Growing up into the culture. My brother was a DJ. My cousins used to break dance and rap, and that’s how I got involved.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

I got involved with First Dirt around 2009/2010. I started going to shows and touring with the crew and started building and operating as a team/family and since then I never left.

What’s one unknown fact about you?

I’m an outlier. I have decided to dedicate 10,000 hours of my life to mastering my craft as a writer.

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

I am most excited about being able to perform in front of my hometown and open for some of the most important influences in music today.

To connect with 60 East follow him @60eastFD 

Check out the video for 60 East’s “Big Dreams”:



Birth Name: Alex Bouthsarath

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Key Projects: mixed Vintage by Timothy Rhyme

Videos: directed and edited “Dedicated to Alaya” by Timothy Rhyme, “Comes and Goes” by Timothy Rhyme featuring Kham Raw, and “BST” by First Dirt

Musical Influences: Talib Kweli, 9th wonder, Black Milk, The Roots, J Dilla, Dilated Peoples, Black Star, Statik Selektah, Termanology

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

B-boying got me involved in Hip Hop culture. I was always into music way before I even started b-boying, but my interest in the b-boy culture led me to turntablism which led me back to making music.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

The birth and involvement began with First Dirt when I entered their beat battle event held at the Blue Lamp in Sacramento, CA in May 2011. Before I even knew who Phil The Pain was  I was already a fan of his sound when I heard him in the battle and knew immediately that he was my competition. Phil and I both made it to the final round, and I won the competition with a unanimous decision by the three judges. That was the birth and introduction of Leksbeat to First Dirt.

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

I look forward to fulfilling one of my dreams on the day of Paid Dues by being able to perform (DJ) with talented emcees who I consider my family. Being able to get a huge crowd of people attention for a few minutes, listening to something I produced over a good sound system itself is a privilege.

To connect with Leksbeat follow him @LEKSBEAT916

Check out the promo video for Leksbeat and Timothy Rhyme’s “Comes and Goes”:

Nay The Producer


Birth Name: Janaye Felicia Adams-Ombala

Hometown: Richmond, CA

Key Projects: Long Way From Home

Singles: “Remind Me”, “Take It All”

Musical Influences: Miles Davis, Al Jarreau, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Michael Jackson, David Benoit

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

Hip Hop attracted me by its aggression and hardcore lyrics. Tupac is pretty much the reason I started loving Hip Hop.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

I got with First Dirt in 2011. Rymeezee was working on a project and brought Timothy Rhyme through the studio I was engineering at the time. Tim and I started linking up to work after that and from there it’s history.

What’s one unknown fact about you?

I went to culinary school.

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

I’m excited to just be on the same stage as some of my idols.

To connect with Nay The Producer follow her @NayTheProducer

Check out the video for Nay The Producer’s “Take It All” featuring Timothy Rhyme & Ceci Simone:

Phil The Pain


Birth Name: Phil Coyle

Hometown: Brockton, MA

Key Projects: Vintage by Timothy Rhyme, 7 Day Escape by VestaVest, Session 1 by Cinematic Kimo, The Confliction by Cinematic Kimo, The G.E.M. (coming soon) by Notoriety Music, Project Freedom Mixtape (coming soon) by Freedom

Singles/Videos: “I Gotta Go” by Timothy Rhyme, “Grown Man” by Timothy Rhyme, “Dedicated To Alaya” by Timothy Rhyme, “Brocky Nights” by Manny Garcia, “Clipped Wings” by VestaVest

Musical Influences: DJ Premier, Madlib, J Dilla, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Rashid Hadee, Black Milk, The Roots, Buckwild, Pharrell, Robert Glasper, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley, Norman Connors, The Funk Brothers, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Roy Ayers, The Stylistics and many more

What attracted you to get involved in Hip Hop culture?

When I was in the 3rd or 4th grade I saw Hip Hop videos on TV and saw the T.R.O.Y. video [by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth]. I recognized the sample from hearing the Tom Scott song in my mom’s record collection.

When did you first connect with First Dirt and how?

I hooked up with First Dirt in the spring/summer of 2010. I was introduced to Timothy Rhyme through our mutual friend Shirin.

What’s one unknown fact about you?

I like long walks on the beach.

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at Paid Dues?

I look forward to being able to come all the way out to Cali to see a set with the whole First Dirt crew on a stage such as Paid Dues. With me being in Massachusetts and New York for a time I’ve only gotten to catch a First Dirt performance on the two tour stops in NYC and Boston.

To connect with Phil The Pain follow him @PHILLYBLUNTS508

Check out the video for Timothy Rhyme & Phil The Pain’s “I Gotta Go”:

The 8th annual Paid Dues Festival will take place Saturday, March 30th at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, California

For more info like set times and ticket availability for Paid Dues click it 

For more info about First Dirt click it

To connect with First Dirt follow them @FirstDirt 

Related Post:

Behind The Boards: Q&A with Producer Phil The Pain