He's the intrepid entrepreneur behind two of hip-hop's venerable festival franchises: Rock the Bells and Paid Dues. Chang Weisberg launched the former in 2004 and expanded it into a touring festival in 2007. And hip-hop heads have been treated to a hell of a ride ever since -- from the final full Wu-Tang Clan reunion including Ol' Dirty Bastard to Lauryn Hill and other icons performing classic albums in their entirety to this year's headliners Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Always part of the mix: a choice selection of new school by such up-and-comers as Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
Paid Dues wrapped its seventh annual fest in April in San Bernardino, Calif., with co-headliner Wu-Tang Clan and brash newcomer Odd Future. Last year's slate featured Black Star, Immortal Technique (in its first appearance) and Dues co-founder Murs. Social activism also took center stage. Murs, Guerilla Union staffers and other festival artists participated in the first Paid Dues Habitat for Humanity project.
Despite his commitment to and solid reputation within the hip-hop community, Weisberg took hits from critical fans when Rock the Bells downsized from eight markets to four in 2010. Rolling with the punches, the indefatigable Weisberg teamed with Live Nation in 2011 to also take Bells on a House of Blues tour, promising 150 dates in 18 months. "Intimate versions of Rock the Bells need to exist to continue to build up the genre," Weisberg told the Hollywood Reporter last July. "So here's a classic example of an indie promoter working with the machine in the best interest of good music. - Gail Mitchell