Five Hip-Hop Highlights At SXSW 2013: Friday, March 15

Billy Johnson, Jr.

I'm dubbing Day 4 at South By Southwest Funky Fresh Friday. Wow. As usual, there were too many things happening at the same time. I'm not a supporter of cloning, so this is just one of those things we have to deal with it. Life could be worse.

Friday featured some of my all time favorites: Fat Belly Bella--that's Erykah Badu for those of you slacking on your Twitter game--Ghostface Killah, some Brad Pitt comedy, and insight into Dr. Dre's coolest new venture. Let's get to it.

Friday's recap:

1) My South By Southwest Dream Came True – Thanks Erykah
For a moment, I thought I was not going to get into the Robert Glasper show at Sonos Studios on Red River and 4th. When I arrived, the venue was already at capacity and there were two lines down the alley. One of the guys behind me said Erykah Badu was in the building. I was feeling anxious. I couldn't come to Austin and not see the funky soul goddess. Getting in was a blessing. (Thank you guest list line angels.) Robert Glasper was already in session with the mostly instrumental jam session sprinkled with bits of talk box to move the crowd. The vibe was chill. Set outside, it felt like we were in a park. Within 20 minutes, the Dallas beauty with the green eyes emerged and just rolled with Glasper. Her distinct honey tone was the perfect compliment as they played for another 30 minutes, offering songs from Glasper's catalog while also slipping in some popular numbers like The Root's "You Got Me."

2) Ol' Dirty Bastard's Nephew Core Masson Pays Homage During Ghostface Show
Wu Block was in full effect Friday night, headlining the event at Viceland. Sheek Louch and Ghostface traded songs from their 2011 collab album and works from their careers as solo artists and members of Wu Tang and The Lox. I could write a top 10 post on this show alone. But I need to give props to their performance of the Wu classic "Protect Ya Neck." They opened the floor for two fans, one to perform Method Man's verse and another to rock Ol' Dirty Bastard's lyrics. Just before the song started, Ghost told the crowd not to cut the guys any slack. He said to boo them if they were not up to par. Amazingly, both of the guys were good, especially, Core Mason, the 2012 BET Cypher MC who rapped ODB's rhymes. I spoke to the rapper after the show, and he told me that the "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" icon was his uncle and he drove 30 hours from Brooklyn to get to SXSW.

3) Time For Some Action Bronson
I owe thanks to power manager Paul Rosenberg for suggesting that I not dip out of the Viceland show before Action Bronson played. Bam Bam was on my SXSW spreadsheet of artists I wanted to see, but I was torn. Kendrick and Pusha T were playing the Mass Appeal event at the same damn time. I'm glad I stayed. I haven't seen anything like Action Bronson. I'm convinced he was a drill sergeant in a past life. Everything he spits is hard, even when he addresses the crowd. When he walked out, he demanded that the audience show [expletive] love. He frequently abruptly ordered the DJ to stop the music. But this is part of his appeal and is juxtaposed with some of the coolest gestures I've ever seen in hip-hop. He gave several newcomers close to 10 total minutes of his set. Big Brother Bronson pushed them center stage and said, "RAP." He got off the stage and performed a song while walking throughout the entire audience. He ended most of his songs a cappella. This guy is a superstar.

4) Was That The Pharcyde "Passing Me By" At Dr. Dre's Pill Clinic?
So I walk into Dr. Dre's Pill Clinic to test out his new portable wireless speakers and BAM – Pharycde members Booty Brown and Imani are chillin'. Seriously, the last time I talked to these guys was literally 20 years ago when I interviewed them at the Pharcyde Manor for Word Up! Magazine. I wish I could have seen one of their SXSW shows. Ironically, Ghostface's DJ played "Passing Me By" a couple hours later and the crowd showed them mad love. Respect.

5) Has Brad Pitt's Camp Issued A Cease And Dessit Order On This Guy Yet?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Metaphors are essential in hip-hop as are boastful rhymes. But I think Danny Brown, our dope boy outta Detroit, may be taking things way too far with the whole Black Brad Pitt thing. I know that when he was on the Kathy Griffin show a month ago she kissed him in the mouth, and he's got the girls on lock. But if this "The Black Bratt Pitt" (Explicit Lyrics) song becomes more popular, he can expect to hear from the attorneys of Angelina Jolie's man. As far as his Viceland show, it was good, despite the fact that he was too drunk to remember the words to his new song.

BONUS: The Pill - Just What The Doctor Ordered (NO NOT THAT ONE)
DANG! Dr. Dre has got the best marketing teams in the world. To promote his latest Beats product The Pill, they set up a doctor's office-like clinic at SXSW. Here's the rundown. When you walk in, you put your name on the waiting list. You grab a free beverage and take a gif pic (see mine) in the #PillFix photo booth while waiting for your name to be called. When the doctor is ready to see you, he takes you into his office for an examination of the new product. The doctor concludes his session by writing you a prescription to take the pill home for 24 hours. You take your prescription form to the clinic counter and they process it. You receive your pill and a t-shirt and bounce. Dr. Dre is my idol. I don't care if Detox ever comes out.

Honorable Mention: Juelz Santana "The Whistle Song"

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