South by Southwest (SXSW) is the premier Austin-based company dedicated to building and delivering conference and festival events for entertainment and related media industry professionals. Each March it draws nearly 12,000 registrants from all over the globe. Headliners this year included Smokey Robinson, Snoop Dogg, Muse, Broken Bells, and Mos Def.
Like last year, Much Luvv Records’ Bobby “Tre9” Herring, Much Luvv Vice President Jimmie McDowell, and Jason “Sketch the Journalist” Bellini were personally offered the opportunity to create the urban gospel stage by Matt Sonzala, a respected independent rap promoter who is the official hip hop booker for SXSW.
Sonzala again offered the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center for the venue and made this show a no-charge, open-to-the-public affair. (Most performances at SXSW are exclusive badge-and-wristband events targeted toward media and industry professionals.)
Artists on the roster for the DaSouth.com stage included: Tedashii, k-Drama, Dre Murray, Fedel, Von Won, Gifted da Flamethrowa, Zeeda, CY, The W.A.R.R.I.O.R.S. ATX, big AL, S.O.M., Yunek, Xtra Large, Sean C. Johnson, Bizzle, Corey Paul, Peculiar Image, Eric Merino, and Adalid.
And, as expected, the intimate 130-seat venue filled up within a matter of minutes with fans filling the previously-empty aisles and staircases to gain a vantage point for this memorable affair.
The non-stop concert did see a few hiccups with a late start caused by a previously scheduled hip hop documentary showing at the venue and a few sound issues that were resolved about an hour in. Austin’s DJ D-Lite acted as host and show emcee while Houston’s DJ Primo manned the ones and twos.
The day also kicked off with a press conference style media event with many of the participating artists where they answered questions and discussed the value of the event to their genre.
“The mainstream music industry is so dark,” Xtra Large said. “By participating in festivals like South by Southwest, we can bring the light.”
Andre “007” Barnes, a former member of gangsta rap group the 5th Ward Boyz (Rap-A-Lot Records), expressed his gratitude for the platform.
“Understand, I’ve done shows with Tupac and Biggie, but this is big for me,” Barnes said. “Just five years ago I was locked up in prison. But here I am today, at South by Southwest, rapping about Jesus.”
By the end of the night, the super charged crowd had soaked in nearly four straight hours of personal testimony and rap music that glorified the name of Christ and proclaimed there is indeed, life in hip hop.
By the grace of God, the opportunity to continue this tradition will be extended for SXSW 2011.
Photos by Sketch the Journalist are attached for your use. Additional high resolution images are also available upon request.
Recap and performance videos can also be found at: