Four Hip-Hop Highlights at SXSW 2013: Saturday, March 16

Billy Johnson, Jr.
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Day 5, the end of the road for my first South By Southwest experience, was the best of the week. Very cool things happened on this day.

First, Prince's three-hour midnight show was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. No pyrotechnics, drum machines, Auto-Tune or gimmicks. Prince proved that at the end of the day, passion and talent prevail. I was one of a small group of journalists who were able to speak to A Tribe Called Quest, who opened for Prince. I had a chance to talk to the legendary Bay Area rap crew the Hieroglyphics and watch a rising female MC bring a music needed message back to hip-hop.

Here's my recap for Saturday, my final SXSW wrap up:

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1) Yahoo! Music Receives VIP Access At Prince Concert
Seeing Prince at the Samsung Galaxy Experience at SXSW was the highlight for anyone blessed to get tickets. Galaxy users were eligible to win accommodations by participating in a contest that utilized Samsung's power on battery swap and tectile programs. Winners lined up at the La Zona Rosa as early as five hours before the show. But Yahoo! Music literally received the VIP treatment. I watched the event from the private area just right of the stage, rubbing elbows with Talib Kweli, Grey's Anatomy actors Jesse Williams and Isaiah Washington, and The Wire cast mates Felicia Pearson and Michael K. Williams. Prince and the NPG jammed for hours, playing most of his major hits, including "1999," "Purple Rain," and "House Quake." He also covered songs he produced for his protégés: Shelia E's "Glamorous Life," Sheena Easton's "You Got The Look," and The Time's "Cool." And even cooler, they played 1980s hits from other acts – Janet Jackson ("What Have You Done For Me Lately") and Michael Jackson ("Don't Stop Til You Get Enough"). After the show, Grey's Williams raved about the concert. "He's the greatest," he told Yahoo! Music backstage. "He's amazing every single time, and tonight is no different. I've never seen him in such an intimate space. I've seen him at the Forum. I've seen him at Madison Square Gardens, these larger venues."

2) Q-Tip Said He Wants A Tribe Called Quest Reunion On Solo Album
A Tribe Called Quest front man, Q-Tip, says he wants his former group members to join him on his forthcoming solo album, The Last Zulu, due out next year. "I'm excited about it," Q-Tip told Yahoo! Music during an interview following the group's opening set for Prince at the SXSW festival Saturday. "It'll have hopefully Phife Dog and Ali Shaheed Muhammad and of course Jarobi. I'm excited about it. It's a concept album."

3) The Hieroglyphics Crew Remember Hip-Hop's Early Days At SXSW
The Hieroglyphics were among the early hip-hop acts to frequent SXSW. Their first appearance at the fest took place in the late 1990s. I had a chance to talk to the guys at my good friend Matt Sonzala's Pushermania &'s #AllFamEverything showcase and barbecue at the Frontier Bar. It was cool to get out of the downtown area for a moment to see a piece of East Austin. Opio says the festival was mostly known for indie rock when they started attending. "We got a chance to interact with a whole another demographic, a fanbase type of thing, where they were all basically independent rock band fans," he said. "But what they do appreciate is a good live performance." The hip-hop presence has increased significantly over the years. "Fast forward to now, it's one of my favorite events to come to," he added.

4) Lyric Michelle Renews My Faith In The Future Of Female MCs
When Lyric Michelle was heading to the stage at the #AllFamEverything barbecue, Matt Sonzala, told me to check her out. Sporting a massive, wild Afro, skin tight leggings, halter top and jean vest, the poet and MC looked the part of a video vixen, but when she started rhyming she took me back to hip-hop's golden era for female MCs when MC Lyte, Yo Yo, Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill offered unmatched skill and messages that empowered women. Lyric didn't name names, but her songs took jabs at music that promotes self-destructive themes to girls. On "This And That," she complains about the prevalence of songs devoid of substance, rhyming, "Blah, blah, blah, this and that. No one gives a damn if the hook is hot, and the beat don't drop. Gone bop yo head. But didn't hear any word that I said, but the hook is hot."

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