This year’s SXSW festival is turning out to be a real treat for hip hop fans, from hipster-rap buffs to old school aficionados. The roster is a fun mix of new and old hip hop, and as an east coast transplant, I couldn’t be more excited over the additions of New York heavy weights Mobb Deep, Nas, and Sean Price. Their classic underground beats and influences have paved the way for newer acts like Ab-Soul, Chance the Rapper, and Future, new addendums to this year’s line-up. Cali fans, don’t trip. The Pharcyde, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Rocc will all be returning to the stage, representing the Oakland and L.A. scenes respectively.
Still, what’s a South by Southwest festival without a little alternative hype? Below are some fresh acts set to perform at this year’s event. If you’re heading to Austin next week, be sure to check these underground hip hop acts performing at SXSW.
Hailing from La Habra, this local boy and Stones Throw artist made his mark on the alternative hip hop scene in 2013, winning Pitchfork Media’s adoration with the mixtape I Don’t Care. Blending doo-wop samples, electronic drums, and an unadorned lyrical flow, Jonwayne’s sound is part white boy rap, part experimental production, and it’s garnered a fair share of fans over the past year. Check out his 48-track instrumental album, Oodles of Doodles, also on Stones Throw. Playing The North Door, March 15th.
New York is officially in the building! With influences ranging from KRS One, Pharoahe Monch, and The Beastie Boys, Ratking has blended both hip hop and punk elements to create a high energy, postmodern sound that’s unlike any other east coast rap you’ve heard. Signed to Hot Charity/XL Recordings, the group released its debut EP Wiki93 in 2012, boasting a young, raw punk perspective on the current hip hop scene. Playing Tap Room at the Market, March 14th.
3. Cities Aviv
The dance-friendly sounds of Cities Aviv are sure to get the crowd moving this year. The Memphis native and self-proclaimed scatterbrain is expected to perform tracks from his latest project titled Come to Life, mashing electro-house friendly beats with bouncy, melodic hip hop flows. Low-fi vocals highlight the 80s inspired, up-beat production, but they’re not so drowned out that listeners can’t enjoy the rhythmic rap feel. Playing at Mohawk Indoor, March 12th.
This Manhattan boy has an insanely eclectic background, so it only makes sense to include him on the ever diverse roster of SXSW. Born in Russia of Ethiopian descent, he lived in Germany and Dallas before settling in the Big Apple. And before rapping, he was the anti-artist, working on Wall Street as a trader. Still, he dabbled with rhymes on the side and made enough buzz for himself to be included in the 2012 lineup. In fact, he was noted as one of the ten best kept secrets of show, according to The Well Versed, so this year ANTHM is primed to win over audiences with his mellow neo-soul sounds. Check out his EP, Handful of Dust, featuring jazz inspired tracks, intelligent lyrics, and a classic hip hop feel. Playing at Blackheart, Saturday, March 15.
5. Casey Veggies
Casey Jones (aka Casey Veggies) is new to the game, but he’s already built a strong committee of support, having performed alongside big names like Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Nipsey Hussle, and Dom Kennedy. The Inglewood artist has even caught the attention of Jay Z’s own label, Roc Nation, releasing his latest EP Fresh Veggies under the Maybach Music Group imprint. From the looks of things, it seems Casey Veggies is set to reach hip hop stardom any day now, so be sure to catch him at SXSW before he blows up for real. Playing at 1100 Warehouse, Wednesday, March 12 and Blackheart, Saturday, March 15.
By Jane Dubz