SXSW 2014: Hip-Hop Preview
No development emphasizes the SXSW transformation from modest industry conference (with a heavy emphasis on indie acts) to the biggest music festival in the country (with dozens of major-label acts vying for attention) more than the invasion of the rap world. Years ago, if you wanted to check out hip-hop in Austin during the conference, you had to be satisfied with a Rhymesayers or a Stones Throw showcase (both of those labels are great, by the way). This year brings a galaxy of future mainstream stars like Y.G., Gunplay, Young Thug, Migos, Kevin Gates and hundreds of others.
I won't miss wading down Congress Ave. alongside tens of thousands of drunken revelers while bands blare from every corner of the street. But I can't help but be envious at the sheer variety of rap music that can be heard this week. Not only will the aforementioned Stones Throw host an event with up-and-coming artists like Pyramid Vritra, but Minneapolis rapper Lizzo, L.A. beat maker Jeremiah Jae, and white-hot prospects like Isaiah Rashad and Chance the Rapper will be performing at sundry parties. There will be plenty of headliners, too, like Nas, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Illmatic. The rap world may represent an uncomfortable swelling of the SXSW assemblage, but it has also brought a stunning variety of sounds, which conference attendees and stay-at-home folks can both sample in this playlist.