This was my first year at South by Southwest (SXSW), and looking back on it feels somewhat like a dream – constant moving with everything happening so quickly that by the time you got to the next thing, you forgot what you’d just done. Combine that with free booze galore to guarantee a blur for most.
Friday I headed straight to the Nah Right showcase, Nah Right being the most highly trafficked hip-hop blog. Combined with the onerous task called getting up, the get-cute mission, and hail-a-cab fiasco, I ended up missing a couple performances but alas, story of an SXSW-er’s life. They had two stages, one in each room at Peckerhead’s, and my awesome self failed to realize that until after I pranced around aimlessly in the wrong room – all the way through LA-based rapper Blu’s performance. Not awesome.
Then some act, nameless to me, took the stage. The show schedule was a bunch of garble in my head so I decided to rush to the front of the stage to look important and take a few photos. What I ended up seeing was a couple of 14-year-old looking boys wearing hipster-hop clothing bouncing around like a bunch of tards. I walk right the eff back to where I came from and ask a friend, “who the hail (hell) is that?” He tells me it’s Charles Hamilton (whack slash annoying rapper-child that steals beats in so many words) and some hype dude. Gross. I almost wanted to walk back to the front so I could gather more ridiculosity to report back on, but I couldn’t bring myself to it.
Gossip girl aside: Soon after SXSW, it was found in the hip-hop bloggerverse that sir Hamilton is a beat thief; His punk-ish, Sonic the Hedgehog worshipping, 1990’s girly blog toting emo arse had the audacity to say he made a beat that in fact St. Louis based producer/rapper Black Spade had made. In short, Spade congratulated Charlie on a performance well done at SXSW where he pointed out that Charles had just rapped over said beat. Charles was like, ‘no, I made that beat.’ Vehemently so. He tried to go on a tirade about his scruples and crap, too. Yeah, okay. Soon music blog FRESHselects posted Spade’s original beat along with Charles’ song, letting the public be the judge. The comments section was flooded with production nerds declaring it impossible for Charles to have accidentally recreated the same exact beat. Some drama later, video and technical evidence was posted proving that Chuck is indeed a lame. He remains fittingly silent. The end.
Next up at Nah Right was Brother Ali, an almost transluscent looking big rapper dude. A couple friends had really reeeaallly hyped up this cat, so I was ready to be blown away. Unfortunately, I was not. Ali had a great positive energy and spirit, seeming to have a lot of love for his fans, which appeared a large and dedicated following. While it was a solid performance with lyrics covering more substantive subject matter (at times), I just wasn’t moved. Apparently he lost his voice at his bigger performance the night before. Props to him for still rocking, then. But even lyrically, his freestyle at the end was kind of rudimentary. Womp womp. Please don’t freestyle if that isn’t your forte, friends. I guess I’ll have to given him another chance, though.
The next hour went something like this: running over to Gruv to shoot a show and still ending up late because I ended up enamored with an empanada food truck. I ordered two. And then ate them. Ironically, upon arrival at Gruv, I danced on an empty stage like a wild child for about 30 minutes while I waited for Trackademicks to go on (delays, delays). I also think I got hit on by a girl who insisted she wasn’t a lesbian. But then, why are you explaining for so long? It’s okay if you love me. I love me, too. Anyway. The show decided to be postponed for an hour or two. So I left for another show in between.
Chin Chin is crack in a bottle. I had been hearing them for a while from a couple friends, not to mention the homie Jesse Boykins III sings with them from time to time. These mens did not disappoint. The lead singer/keyboardist came fully equipped with pink felty pants and twitchy spaz-out’s aplenty. The band had clearly caught the spirit as they yelled out in rapture numerous times throughout the set, inciting the crowd into dance breaks. The electro jazzy-funk band even threw in some autotune synth-y action for a dope change-up. Yes, Kanye. Autotune is meant for tasteful effect, not a whole damn album.
Afterwards, I decided to do the smartest thing I could ever do: take my tore up feet for a walk around town to explore the crazies on the street. That lasted about 12 seconds seeing as I became distracted by the light. Light = a cupcake truck. For the win. Aaaand, just as I was ordering my cupcake (far, far away from the Trackademicks show at Gruv), I get a text saying that Trackademicks is going on in 10 minutes. So I ran. And stuffed my face whilst. On my way to the show I was hypnotized by a bunch of hip-hoppers grouped outside a storefront watching a performance from the outside in. It was such a powerful image, and I even ran into some friends there. But as much I wanted to stay, I had to go. The perils of SXSW.
Alameda based super-producer and rapper Trackademicks gets it crrrrrackin’. Can’t say I’m the biggest hyphy fan but Track sprinkles just enough for that undeniable body rock and Bay sound. Oh, and did I just say Alameda? Yes, yes I did. That one over by Oakland? Yeah, that one. Apparently it produces more talented musicians than one, too. Hella Bay pride, playboy [said in E-40 voice]. The Honor Roll crew (which Track is a part of) shook the stage with electro-heavy genre-bending hip-hop that had techno freaks, r&b chicks, 80’s babies, and hip-hoppers alike getting the hell down. 1o.A.K. offered support on the drum pad, as a rapper, and a silky-smooth vocalist. Mike Baker the Bike Maker snap crackle popped his verses with style to spare. And DJ Tap10 held it down like the South Asian hunk he is (Indian subcontinent represent!) Subject matter was kept easy breezy on singles like, “Enjoy what you do” and playfully real with the song-couplet “Quit Your Job / Get a Job.” Rad-ness in a can. Alameda, let’s get it. Um.
I closed out the night with a couple parties. The first was one that Wax Poetics Magazine hosted out in the cuts. We walked to the death of my feet. So I spent most of that party staring at my phone and taking in tunes seated with my feet up. The exclusively exclusive Red Bull Moon Tower party was the final stop and hot damn did they do it up. It was the only large scale party that went til 5 a.m., requiring personal invites from Red Bull or a performing artist. And these people didn’t mess with wristbands; you were inducted with a frickin’ temporary tattoo, son. The grandiose stage featured some rocker peeps and then some nameless hipster rapper. But the open sky and mounds of people fluttering about provided a good energy for certain. The open bar didn’t hurt either. I personally got down with some banging fish tacos at the resident taco truck, Wahoo’s. Score.