The annual SXSW festival out of Austin, Texas is a chaotically fun smorgasbord of entertainment, food and partying. The hip hop culture in particular is huge, and if you’re getting heartburn from wondering about which rappers to see – consider BeatRoute to be your AlkaSeltzer. Here’s a list of buzzed about artists that should be sampled after you’re done eating that Tex-Mex. (Pro-tip: go see Schoolboy Q, Nas and Mobb Deep while you’re there, you lucky devil.)
CHANCE THE RAPPER – CHICAGO, IL – INDEPENDENT
Chance dropped one of the biggest – if not the biggest – releases of 2013, Acid Rap. It was downloaded over 250,000 times, labeling it certified platinum, however it wasn’t just big in numbers – it left a huge impression with heads, confusing some and captivating all. Known for his unique voice, storytelling and simple rhyme schemes with lyrics like “I got the Chicago Blues/We invented rock before the Stones got through,” he is a man on the verge of super-stardom you must peep before you have to pay $70 to see him.
ISAIAH RASHAD – CHATTANOOGA, TN – TOP DAWG ENT.
You’re going to hear this name a lot this year. Signed to one of today’s hottest labels, Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul), Isaiah dropped the anticipated EP Cilvia Demo in January – a beauty of a project with melody, that classic southern feel and insightful content. He will be touring with his heavy-hitting label mate, Schoolboy Q, and before that tour sells out everywhere, take in a performance from one of the newest members of one of the most popular rap crews out there.
DOUGHBEEZY – HOUSTON, TX – HEADWRECKAS WORLDWIDE ENT., LLC
Known as the “South East Beast,” you can’t expect his performance to be anything less. Doughbeezy is a unique talent out of the massive Houston rap scene. Armed with a rapid flow and sharp wit, Doughbeezy has delivered a number of projects worthy of checking out. He’ll perform cuts off his latest mixtape Footprints on the Moon, which features Slim Thug, Killa Kyleon and production from Houston producer Trakksounds.
BIG FREEDIA – NEW ORLEANS, LA – SCION AV
If you’re in the mood for booties shaking all over the place (and who isn’t, really), then you can’t miss the Queen of Bounce herself, Big Freedia. Freedia’s been at the forefront of the twerk movement for a long time, and it’ll be worth it to catch the energetic performer in action who’s known for songs like “Ass Everywhere” and “Excuse.”
A refreshing voice out of Houston, Roosh is a passionate spitter, whose lyrically-dense bars will keep your attention. He delivers with the spirit of what Houston rap is known for, but with a swagger that sets him apart from the traditional chopped and screwed style. Roosh has worked with heavy hitters like Devin the Dude, Action Bronson and Scarface, and has been ranked one of the top rappers to watch out for out of Houston. Check out his video “Introduction” to become more acquainted with the young buck.
SHAD – LONDON, ONT – BLACK BOX MUSIC, DECON
The U.S.A. may hold it down majorly in the hip hop ring, but we have our champions too, and Shad is one of them. Touring off of his latest album Flying Colours, Shad is fun to watch live with his clever wordplay and warm energy. Shad is a fan favourite (the man beat out Drake in 2011 for Best Rap Recording at the Junos) and will shine amongst the best of them, giving the south a gift from up north.
Ratking is a four-piece crew lead by the 19-year-old Wiki who hails from Manhattan, NYC. These kids are raw and gritty. Their EP Wiki93 is almost like a punk record; scruffy production, aggressive, and beats that are purely meant to be rhymed over – nothing more, nothing less. Ratking caught our attention with Wiki’s “Wikispeaks” video. Whatever rap you’re into, their energy will make you wish you packed your backpack with a forty of malt liquor.
MAXO KREAM – HOUSTON, TX – INDEPENDENT
Oh, so you want to keep it gangster in Austin? Maxo Kream is it. His latest project QuiccStrikes drips in dark imagery and intimidation – so awesome to listen to – and it will be something to experience live. Maxo’s videos for “Lewinsky” and “YMG” turn heads and may leave your stomach churning and burning for more.
By Katharine Sawchuk
Photo (Ratking): Jamie-James Medina