Four Hip-Hop Highlights At SXSW 2013: Thursday, March 14

Billy Johnson, Jr.

Day 3 at SXSW was arguably the biggest night for hip-hop. T.I., Snoop Lion, LL Cool J and RZA had all competing shows. This was a tough call, but I was not disappointed that I rolled with the T.I. event hosted by BET Music Matters and sponsored by Yahoo! Music and ASAP. T.I. brought out some incredible unannounced special guests.

The earlier part of the day wasn’t bad either. I talked to Snoop Lion at the premiere of his new movie, Reincarnated, out today, and caught up the members of Dead Prez.

Here’s my recap for Thursday:

1) Is Snoop Lion Reggae’s Newest Prodigal Son?
Snoop Lion premiered his movie, Reincarnated, at SXSW Thursday, and I had chance to talk to him at the Paramount Theatre. Near the movie’s end, it shows the ceremony where Snoop becomes a Rastafarian. Snoop was moved by the experience he describes as a baptism. “That was heavy because the words the lady was saying to me when she was touching my head, ‘The prodigal son returns,’” he said. “She was speaking biblical terms. It felt real spiritual up in there, like it was no games. You can’t go up in there playing no games. It felt real, and it was real.” Last night, he performed his first concert as a reggae artist. In the video below, Snoop explains the turning points that prompted him to make the change.

2) Big Things Were Poppin’ During T.I.’s BET Music Matters Set
The Rubber Band Man gave his fans something special, packing the Brazos Hall show sponsored by Yahoo! Music and ASAP with as many album tracks as radio hits and special guests. It was definitely a T.I. and friends experience. When he performed his latest single, “Memories Back Then,” he confirmed the rumors that Kendrick Lamar would be making a surprise appearance at his show. Lamar joined T.I. to rap his verse on the song. Then T.I. offered the Compton MC the floor to do his own tracks, “Swimming Pools” and “Backstreet Freestyle.” But, still, T.I. invited others to share the limelight – Trae Tha Truth, UK rapper Chip and more. Near the show’s end, Pharrell slid on stage (See photos). He didn’t get on the mic, he was merely there to enjoy the moment with his friend.

[Related: SXSW '13 Tweetcap: Kendrick Lamar Crashes T.I.'s Set at Yahoo! HQ!]

3) Dead Prez’ Stic.Man On Son’s Guitar Debut: ‘Purely Completely Proud’
Dead Prez’s Stic.Man will never forget the group’s SXSW performance at Antone’s Wednesday night. It was the show his son, Small Axe, made his guitar debut during their set. The 11-year-old played songs from Marilyn Manson and Nirvana and the crowd went bananas. Stic.Man tells Yahoo! Music in an exclusive interview that it was Small Axe’s idea to perform. “He had a vision that he wanted to be a part of our show,” he says. “I’m purely completely proud because I know the work he puts in. I admire him. He inspires me. I don’t have to say, ‘You better practice.’ He’s like, I’m going to practice Papa.’ He’s teaching me about Les Pauls and Gibsons [guitars] and totally is just a student of his craft. I wanted to tape his whole performance but I’m a part of the show too.”

4) Autone: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That
I’ll never forget the day I feel in love with Chrisette Michele’s music in 2007. Before dropping her debut, I Am, she came to the Yahoo! Music offices with a piano and her impeccable voice and left our team of editors and music directors speeches. She’s been a beaming light for R&B ever since. When she was introduced last night, a calmness overcame Brazo’s Hall. Everyone knows this woman means business. Her voice is sharp, husky, and angelic all at the same time and whether she’s singing rock as on her Audrey Hepburn mixtape selection “Your Fair Lady” or the heartwarming soul of her new single “A Couple Of Forevers” that samples the O’Jay’s “Stairway To Heaven.” We were mad to see her leave the stage. #EncoreEncoreEncore!

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