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March 16, 2006
Beats & rhymes

I am in the Austin Convention Center. In the other room, a marching band is playing the theme to Fat Albert. This is not necessary.

Just left The Current's set-up over in the Capitol Place hotel, up on the 18th floor. That's where Maria Lucia's broadcasting from, and performers will be trooping in and out today and tomorrow. I caught a two-song set from Blackalicious, the California indie hip-hop duo of MC Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel. Like the rest of the crew from the old Soulsides label (Lateef, Lyrics Born, DJ Shadow), they're some ingenious guys, and it translates live.

Gab's a husky guy, the sort of tall man who compensates for his height by stooping a little--he doesn't command the stage so much as accept the responsibility of taking it. They closed with a terrific showstopping gimmick he's had in his arsenal for years, rattling off a set of rhymes alphabetically. (You know, first line mostly all the words start with A, second line with B, etc.)

I realized during this set that I haven't mentioned the hip-hop showcases down here yet. With Texas rap having taken off commercially last year, SXSW has made even room this year for more hip-hop of the non-alt/indie variety. Problem is, the shows are out at the Back Room, which is off the SXSW beaten path--you need to take a shuttle to get there. Still, I'm tempted to make it out tonight to see Houston talent like DJ Chill and Devin the Dude, not to mention hometown Austin DJ Rapid Ric. We shall see.

The marching band's destroying the Jackson Five songs now. I gotta go.

Posted by Keith Harris at 1:20 PM




Comments

The first song on their EP called (not surprisingly) "A2G" is a recorded version of their alphabetical/alliteration style.

Posted by Ben Tesch at March 17, 2006 11:21 AM