We like the Tanya Morgan guys. On the exterior, they’re “Hardcore Gentlemen” who rap quite well and are cool as cucumbers as individuals. If you’ve been around long enough, you know that we once had Von Pea as an honorary guest for one of our Crew Love roundtable sessions many moons ago. And the team @ Audible Treats are always a delight to work with because they align themselves with authentic acts. So, when they pitched the idea of letting on of the performers from their inaugural SXSW showcase recap the event, it seemed brilliant…a brilliant way to escape work. Even more, it just helps to reiterate what type of energy that Hip-Hop brings to the festival, both for fans and performers. So, allow me to pass the
mic keyboard to Donwill and let him take it from here.
There were quite a few “place to be” showcases this year at SXSW for the Hip-Hop fan. Luckily I got to play a few of them. One in particular that really hits home is the Audible Treats joint. See, what you guys may or may not know is Audible Treats is like family to me and we have been in the business of making each other look good since Moonlighting. So when they wanted to put me on the stage, it was a no brainer.
The day of the show was when Austin chose to shit all over its festival goers by delivering frigid temperatures that us New York dwellers thought we had let behind. Add to the fact that I began feeling under the weather from the 16-hour alcohol binges and, well, it was a pretty rough night for the kid. But, in a weird way that weather kinda helped the showcase be great. People fled the nearby Fader Fort for warmer grounds and found it within the confines of The Independent which gave openers a healthy crowd to perform for. And take it from a guy who has filled that position before, that shit is invaluable. The settling sickness in me also kept me sober and stationary for the better part of the night which means that I saw the ENTIRE show. So, while TC was too busy running around doing body shots off of street performers to come to his own showcase (UNDER THE BUS!! haha… he knows I’m joking), I settled in for what would be one of the better shows of the night.
Photo: Max Sidman
Ill-Literacy — The first act of the night marched to the stage in white jumpsuits with huge Lego helmets on. From their entrance, you could tell they were definitely gonna be on some other shit and they were. They proceeded to set the tone for the evening with an important message spoken in rapid fire spoken word.
TRUTHLiVE — I’ve shared several stages with this guy right here and I can whole-heartedly say this was the best I’ve seen him to date. Maybe it was the fact that The Park backed him or maybe it was the injection of Jake One’s funk-infused material he was performing, but the guy shredded the stage to bits. There was a definite synergy goin’ on up there though.
League 510 — So, in keeping things all the way Bay, this band hit the stage next and got their YEEEE! all the way on. You may not have understood that last line and, honestly, that’s how their set went over. Unless you have a full appreciation of the Bay area sound, these guys may have gone over your, head but they were dope.
Bisco Smith — This guy hit the stage and immediately got his sound check on, making sure his sound was correct and, honestly, I’m not mad at him at ALL for doing so. It seems like more and more you see hip hop acts forced to deal with whatever cards the headlining acts deal them regarding sound and he made sure to get his sound correct. Once he got started, though, the set he put on was a swift lyrical onslaught. I’d even go as far as calling it relentless and his DJ was a great hype man to boot.
Crown Royale — The homies Buff1 and Rhettmatic joined forces to promote their new project by the name of Crown Royale and they hit the stage like a comet. The new material sounds insane and I’m definitely excited to hear the full length. Mayer Hawthorne dropped by for a quick cameo two-stepping (in some DJ AM Dunks if I’m not mistaken) with drink in hand.
Finale — My labelmate and homie from way back was next up to rep the D and needless to say he killed it. He ran through joints off of his Pipe Dream And A Promise LP before he announced he was dropping two LP’s this year: The official follow up to Pipe Dream and a Promise and an LP completely produced by Oddisee called Odds & Ends. He brought out Invincible to do a joint and, even though they were both kinda sketchy on the lyricism, that just gave them an excuse to serve up some fresh freestyle verses. This guy is officially one of my favorite acts to see live.
Diamond District — Fresh off their Euro run, the DC-spitters dropped by to give another impressive rendition of their new age classic, “In The Ruff” and, being that I’ve seen them a few times. I can say that they’ve added a few tricks to their repertoire. The acapellas were definitely a nice touch to the set. They then proceeded to bring out Trek Life who ran through a new joint to close out the set.
One Be Lo — I don’t think I’ve ever seen One Be Lo’s set before really, but this was something special. He showed up with a 7-piece all-female backing band named Double Lo7 who added a pretty ill rock edge to his set. He proceeded to dismantle each track with sharp lyricism and a killer stage presence.
Donwill performing “Laura’s Song”
Donwill — I don’t really know how to review my own show. I guess I’ll just say I had a good time up there. It was my first proper solo set for the new material and I was backed by Grillade (Ragen Fykes & The Park) on extremely short notice thanks to my DJ needing to go tend to his Red Bull duties. We ran through a very sultry rendition of “Laura’s Song” and Ragen impressed the FUCK outta the room. All in all, it was awesome. After my set, it was kinda hard to catch the rest of the show, to be honest, because it’s never easy to watch a show after you get off stage in general.
Amp Live — Amp Live hopped up for a guest set with Trackademicks, Mickey Factz, and Chris Young in tow. The short but sweet set included material from his upcoming album, Murder at the Discotech as well as excerpts from his Radiohead-approved Rainydayz Remixes collection from early 2008.
Photo: Fred Pessaro of Brooklyn Vegan
Black Milk — Milk was not to be left out of the live band line up and he came through with one that featured my homie Daru Jones. He ran through a very high-energy rendition of some of my favorite songs from both of his albums and really just did an impressive job of translating them live.
Donwill performing “Championship Vinyl”
Dres of Black Sheep — Dres then took to the stage to run through some classic and new material. The time constraints were in full effect and he didn’t really have time to stretch out on stage but he definitely held his own as usual. I had the joy of touring with him a while back and it’s definitely a show worth seeing.
In closing, it was definitely a great show as an artist and fan. Several people came up to me in the days following to tell me that they enjoyed my set and were impressed with how the house was consistently packed. It’s hard to say what the hottest ticket at SXSW was because there was SO much going on at once, but it was definitely up there with the must-see shows of the weekend.
Gotty”s™ Note – Much respect to Donwill, as well as Michelle, Gavin & Dan at Audible Treats. Respect Their Fresh! See you good people here there and everywhere, but definitely again in Austin next year.