With thousands of artists and bands, a highly condensed downtown area and people everywhere, there are probably as many ways to take in SXSW as there are band t-shirts and dudes who run blogs. It’s overwhelming to think about without a plan or jump off point for each day. Doing your homework helps; so does doing a little recon on the geography of downtown Austin – and having a knack for timing. Making a schedule and believing you’re going to stick to it, not realistic or even that fun, really. Part of the whole experience is stumbling on some shit you could have never anticipated, and getting to tell everyone you know.
This year I am adding another level of focus to my SXSW experience by narrowing in on a specific genre, getting the best information beforehand and taking in the best Austin has to offer with little collateral damage to that precious schedule.
Hip hop is kinda my thing here. I listen to a lot of hip hop, rap and R&B and have no hesitations stating that live hip hop can be hit-or-miss at best. A million dudes yelling into mic’s while a DJ presses play on his macbook is what live hip hop can turn into all too often, unfortunately. But like any style of music, or anything at all really, you gotta take the bad with the good. And there is good, too much of it. SXSW is all about the progressive and everything that anybody would want to see outta the hip hop world will be at SXSW 2012. And no, I’m not talking about Tyler the Creator.
Here is my list of notable Hip Hop acts performing at SXSW 2012
don’t forget to check out the SXSW 2012 Hip Hop Prospectus Spotify Playlist Here: http://open.spotify.com/user/ryandownfall/playlist/27FBCQoZxjuUox0wCZKpl
A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP is fire. This dude from New York has that southern downtempo shit down and I honestly love the fact that he describes his music as “Trill Wave”; so fucking pitchforky you can’t help but respect the self-awareness, or pertinent branding if nothing else. Can’t knock the hustle.
Andre Nickatina – I think every person I met my first year of college had an Andre Nickatina story. Usually about playing some party in Sonoma and smoking weed with him behind a shed or some shit. This isn’t a must for me, but could be fun to pop in for a drink and see what type of hype this generates.
Asher Roth – If someone offered me empanadas or go see Asher Roth, I’d go empanadas.
B.o.B. – The less-good version of like, Lupe Fiasco or something. Opens for T.I., makes sense.
Blackalicious – If you’re not into hip hop, if you are into hip hop; Blackalicious is a must see. Master lyricism, real talk and a little booty shakin. And really the whole showcase Friday at Beauty Bar is kind of a hip hop must-see.
Break Science ft. Talib Kweli – What the fuck does Talib Kweli NOT have his hands in right now? Drum and Bass space DJ shit with my man should be fun.
Brother Ali – We loved his latest album here at Pinpoint and have only seen Brother Ali a million miles away at big festivals and it sounds like he’s got big things coming up in 2012.
Cadence Weapon – I fucking love MC’s from Canada. My boy Conrad would shit if I didn’t catch Cadence Weapon.
Chali 2na – It’s been awhile since his days with Jurassic 5 but something that will never change is that when I imagine god talking to me, his voice sounds like Chali 2na.
Chiddy Bang – Love the MGMT sample, who doesn’t? Just can’t help thinking this is just LMFAO without the drugs and the pants–and no one is getting laid.
The Cool Kids – Saw them last year, kind of a disappointment. Perfect example of hip hop not translating to the live stage.
Danny Brown – The Hybrid! Ugly, weird and crazy talented; Danny Brown is Detroit personified. If you’re asking about hip hop at SXSW, Danny Brown has your attention.
Das Racist – I want to like Das Racist, like, a lot. After seeing them last year, it was kinda tough to justify the hype. They didn’t have the crowd, they didn’t play their bangers and ended up sounding a little youngest child syndrome-y.
Da Vinci – I met this dude once and he was super fucking cool. Gave me a free cd. It took me 3 months to listen to it because apparently I don’t have a disc-playing device.
El-P – Surprisingly cool on that Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire remix, but otherwise kind of a drag to see live. Whatever.
Eligh & Amp Live – I know like 9 people who’d talk shit if I didn’t see Eligh while I’m out there. And that’s how I work, fear and shaming.
Freeway – the dude was “about to blow up” for so long that Freeway finds himself in a pretty unique place, no longer an unknown commodity, it’d be interesting to see if he stays the course or gets creative and tries something new. Either way, I’ll always love that song “Two Words” on Kanye’s album.
GZA – Don’t know why, this is just isn’t really tipping the needle for me. Is it possible that Wu-Tang has saturated the live market over the last 5 years? I say yes.
Juvenile – I’m only intrigued because I just found out Big Freedia was responsible for “Back That Ass Up”.
K. Flay – My hip hop crush.
Kreayshawn – My opposite crush.
Latyrx – Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker are fun as fuck. Not “G Funk”, but something and funk for sure. When that time comes to decide between this or that, Latyrx will get heavy consideration.
Mac Miller – This guy annoys the piss outta me. He also publicly said Kid Cudi’s new album was amazing. If that ain’t some ass-kissy bull…
Mickey Avalon – I was somewhere recently where someone either super square or super young was getting all “OMG” about Mickey Avalon. Kinda killed my boner. But Wednesday at 1am? Sure, why not.
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Excited or skeptical, I believe Lonestar and well-whiskey will have a say in how much I get into this.
Murs – Extremely talented storyteller, I seriously miss this guy every time he comes into town.
Nas – Ben Rios, this one’s for you.
P.O.S. – Every time you talk to anyone from the Midwest about hip hop, they’ll almost immediately bring up P.O.S. and just jizz everywhere. Maybe it’s about time to see what all the jizzing is about?
Paul Wall – This is what I love about SXSW. I have no real desire to see Paul Wall. I could care less, but not by much. But if I have a half hour to kill and need a seat and beer, wouldn’t it be amusing to see Paul Wall and maybe later when you get home, laughingly tell people “oh yeah…and I randomly saw Paul Wall!”. The opposite of Asher Roth.
Prodigy/Mobb Deep – I want to go to this so bad. I also don’t want to catch something or get shanked.
Slim Thug – Kind of a dream of mine to see some UGK shit down in Texas.
Souls of Mischief – Although they have some other decent songs, there should be a clock somewhere counting down the seconds till “93 Till…”
T.I. – You know all those “underrated/overrated” arguments, T.I., in my humble opinion, is the most accurately rated rapper alive.
Theophilus London – I saw Theophilus on the streets last year but didn’t realize it was him until I had already passed him and a million other people. Besides, what was I gonna do? Take a picture on my BLACKBERRY(!) of me and some dude that no one knows? Anyway, Timez Are Weird These Days was probably the most underrated hip hop album of 2011.