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How SXSW Became The Biggest Hip-Hop Festival In The World

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Though the SXSW music festival in Austin has been an annual extravaganza for 27 years, there has only been a strong hip-hop influence within the last 6 years or so. Prior to that, much of the festival’s genre representation was catered towards classic rock, country, folk, blues, and soul music. That’s not difficult to understand considering hip-hop itself wasn’t as popular and influential a genre until possibly a decade ago or so.

Predominately the festival was geared to the rising stars in alternative, indie-rock, folk, blues, alternative, and indie-pop sectors of music. However, 2008-’09 saw a huge influx of hip-hop unlike anything the festival had seen before.

I attended in 2009 and was lucky to witness promising hip-hop acts such as B.O.B, Charles Hamilton, U-N-I, Mickey Factz, Blue & Exile, Asher Roth, & Wiz Khalifa. Several established artists made an appearance that year such as Pete Rock, Bun B, Reflection Eternal, Zion-I, 8Ball & MJG, Eyedea & Abilities, Freeway & Jake One, Sage Francis, Killer Mike, and many more. The 2009 SXSW music festival must have sparked a fire that has been burning uncontrollably since then because every year not only has the festival grown to immense proportions but the hip-hop element has seemed to exponentially multiply.

It seems Austin, Tx has become the “place-to-be” for the up and coming stars in the hip-hop community. I saw and met Mike Posner, Chiddy Bang, Freedie Gibbs & Pill, Grynch, Grieves, Macklemore, Curren$y, and many more in 2010. An experience that inspired me to get back to the studio and record after laying dormant for several months.

The 2012 music festival was the biggest yet for the hip-hop presence at SXSW with major performances by Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Slaughterhouse and appearances by Eminem and Kanye west. MGK won his MTVU woodie award during this years festival and the next wave of rap superstars such as 2Chainz, A$ap Rocky, Kendrick Lamar & B.I.G K.R.I.T all had major showcases.

In fact there was so much hip-hop going on the entire week, I had a hard time keeping up, with my unofficial showcases and peer performances. The major headlining acts of SXSW 2013 have yet to be announced but I can only imagine from the past three years alone, what we have in store for us come January when more showcases will be revealed. If you are a die-hard hip-hop fan and have yet to hit the spectacular, now-worldwide attraction, I suggest you mark your calendars for March 8-17 because this one is sure to be one for the record books.

Matt G is independent recording artist and viral marketing expert from Austin, TX. His music can be heard at: mattgmuzik.com
  • Elijah Woods