This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival was a playground for hip hop fans. With over 500 hip hop performances scattered through Downtown, Austin for six nights — it was impossible to find a bad line up. SXSW’s official artists held some of hip hop’s heaviest-hitters, like: J.I.D, Taylor Bennett, Yella Beezy, and Rico Nasty, as well as lesser-known artists like: NOA James, Phillip Wolf, Kelvyn Colt, Young Baby Tate, and LeiKeli47 who are focused on using their platforms to uplift and promote positive mindsets and lifestyles.
Wolf pulls the audience in.
Phillip Wolf played his first official SXSW showcase at the Sheraton BackYARD, completed with a stage in the grass and lined with tables and heaters on the outskirts. With two bars to get drinks, free yard games to play (badminton and corn-hole), the crowd was friendly and ready to rock before the sun even set. Wolf’s artistic spectrum is far beyond his peers giving him the ability to pull the audience in with a multitude of moods. Wolf started strong, seducing the audience with his melodic singing on, “Connect,” forcing the audience into their feelings and bringing them closer to the stage. With a forty minute set, Wolf was able to showcase a wide range of variety. Wolf's showcase ended with his high-energy-ear-bending-bars and best friends on stage with him.
I made sure to be at the Parish for the Kosha Dillz X JSwipe, “Oy Vey!” showcase to catch Riverside’s NOA James’ set. James is using his platform to promote body positivity, self worth and finding your identity. James takes the time to craft music that motivates, empowers the people, and provokes conversations that hip hop artists often miss. During his set, James spoke intimately with the crowd about his personal weightless journey. “I decided to lose weight at 560lbs,” James told the crowd. “I couldn’t even make it up that hill back there,” as he jokingly poked at how small but steep the hill was. “I’m gonna make that hill my bitch, this year. I’m ready," he roared into the microphone. The room shook from clapping and laughter as James started an, “I’m worthy,” chant to inspire and motivate those who were at SXSW chasing their dreams. Everyone in the venue was shouting. James is the epitome of how a strong positive foundation can be the catalyst for an enlightened change in the hip hop culture and I’m so glad to have him in our corner.
Waves of excitement.
At the Empire Garage, Treble’s Showcase host called Kelvyn Colt “U.K.’s Tupac.” Whoa what a compliment. Colt put on a show for the ages, jumping from one side of the stage to the other in his high-vis-saftey-glowing-outfit. Colt utilizes his platform regularly to explore mental instability when losing love and yourself. Colt’s, “Weakend,” was a conversation piece once his set ended helping him convert new fans in the moment. Over at Trill City’s showcase at the ScratcHouse Backyard, Young Baby Tate was up next. Coming out of Atlanta, Georgia, Baby Tate’s mixes bubblegum pop and R&B sounds rooted in a deep trap-like instrumentals to empower young women to stick to their true selves. What's the point of being someone else when you can be that girl? In a skin tight, Cat Woman inspired outfit, Baby Tate sent a wave of excitement into the crowd by encouraging fans to come on stage and dance while she performed. Baby Tate made sure the ScratcHouse was there to party.
High octane energy and no inhibitions.
I then found myself shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the crowd at Cheer Up Charlie's waiting for LeiKeli47 to perform at the She Shreds x NYLON showcase. The showcase was created to expand and strengthen communities for women and non binary musicians. Upon entering their showcase they reminded the audience to “enter the venue with an open heart and mind.” Leikeli47 has been using her platform to speak positivity about body image, sexuality, and finding your true identity and she didn't stay off rhythm from her own drum beat. I believe her presence in the LGBT community is strong, bona fide, and encourages the community to find their voice. A wave of people bounced in unison and as her set progressed dance battles rolled on stage while she delivered bar after bar. Her high octane energy radiated through the venue impelling every person to dance away their inhibitions.
Artists like, Phillip Wolf, NOA James, Kelvyn Colt, Yung Baby Tate and Leikeli47 are making positivity cool. Their unique styles and ability to educate their fans on living life with a positive mindset makes them rockstars in my book. Make sure to show these up and coming artists some real fan love and let them know that DWHH sent you!