Here are some random musings from SXSW.

Hip-Hop is alive and well in Austin, TX this week.  If you’re not up on South By Southwest (SXSW) it is a music festival that has been around for decades.  It is now the world’s biggest music conference.  It has traditionally catered to indie rock but over the last few years, it has gradually become a haven for hip-hop, particularly underground hip-hop.  I have never had a better hip-hop experience than what I have had for the last few days.  If you have the means to do so, do yourself a huge favor and make it down next year.  It is a GREAT look.  Below are some thoughts/highlights that I wanted to share (in no particular order):

  • Approachability:  This is not some Hollywood ish.  Artists come down here to connect with fans and there is no flossiness.  You can approach anyone and it’s all love.  Dap is handed out, words are exchanged and you part with mutual respect.  In the last 48 hours, I have had meaningful exchanges with Pharoahe Monch, DJ Premier, Big K.R.I.T., Big Sean, J. Cole, Stalley, Dom Kennedy and The Kid Daytona.
  • Growth:  This is a place where things break–artists, technologies, movies…I feel like I’ve personally witnessed some artists growing before my eyes.  Dom Kennedy and Big Sean tore it down at BET’s showcase last night holding their own with the likes of J. Cole and B.o.B.  The Kid Daytona and Stalley just rocked an event the old school way with 2 turntable and a microphone and KILLED it.  And, 2 nights ago Big K.R.I.T. tore down the house with the kind of energy that showed he is going to be a super star.
  • Live Music:  The internet has been the best thing to ever happen for music lovers.  You can have access to any and all music literally with 1 click, instantly.  As much as the digital revolution has created unprecedented opportunity for music discovery and diversity, there is nothing that can replace feeling an artist’s energy live and in person.  There is an element of charisma that just simply cannot be fully translated digitally (either on video or audio).  J. Cole has it.  The Kid Daytona has it.  Big K.R.I.T. has it.  It’s a fantastic thing to see as a music lover.
  • Peace:  It’s rare to see the police.  There are no fights, no guns, no searches.  You walk in, show your wrist band, your ID…and start nodding your head.  There is no posturing, just peace.
  • Diversity:  When you look around the rooms, you see the Hip-Hop Nation–Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indian, old, young, men, women–all united by the love of hip-hop.
  • Decisions, Decisions:  The number of great acts on in any given night is OVERWHELMING.  In the last 48 hours, I’ve seen the following people perform:  J. Cole, Big Sean, B.o.B., Marsha Ambrosious, Dom Kennedy, Zaw Cain, Melanie Fiona, The Kid Daytona, King Mez, Curren$y, Trademark Da Skydiver, Cyhi Da Prynce, Big K.R.I.T., Stalley, Shawn Chrystopher…and tonight I will see DJ Quik, Pharoahe Monch, EPMD, Asher Roth, Nottz…and I will have to miss Bun B, Freddie Gibbs, L.E.P. Bogus Boys, Outasight, Moe Green and KANYE WEST.  Nuts.

In case you didn’t already know, I do this for the love.  SXSW has been MY ambrosia…Peace.