Charles Bradley and Kendrick Lamar

day 3I woke up and was on a mission to see and do as much as possible. I started my day with the panel “Brands Are Music Fans Too.” This revolved around the concept of artists finding organic connections with brands and creating a mutually beneficial working partnership.

After that panel was over I headed to the Radio Day Stage and watched a performance from Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band. This was one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen in my life. The level of soul he has is not like anything I’ve ever seen before. A great thing he did was jump into the crowd and hugged and thanks everyone after his last song. It was really a great performance.

I left that performance and went to another panel titled “Are Bloggers the Curators of Hip-Hop.” This panel was really interesting because it featured popular media personality Elliot Wilson as well as Ashley Outrageous and Brian “B-Dot” Miller. It was pretty cool to hear how they started their blogs and how they viewed the music industry. A point that stuck out to me is that they all positioned their blogs differently and found their audience. The major takeaway for artists from this panel was that they have to build their own fanbase and meet people genuinely. Sending email blasts to every blogger is not going to get your music listened to and posted. Bloggers are just mediums to get your music to fans but this is only after you have built a connection with fans.

After that panel I was ready to see some more music. At this point I didn’t think anything would top Charles Bradley, thankfully I was wrong. I found a showcase that had a great bill. Kendrick Lamar was headlining the event. After one failed attempt to see Kendrick I made sure I wouldn’t miss this chance.

The showcase was put on by Mass Appeal and Pharrell’s Ice Cream brand at the Austin Music Hall. It was co-hosted by Sway of MTV Rap Fix and DJ Jasmine Solano (Emerson and 88.9 WERS alum) so it already felt special. I get there about an hour after it started and Jasmine Solano already has the crowd rocking! There were a good amount of acts before Kendrick Lamar. I watched Rockie Fresh, Pusha T, and ASAP Ferg. Then Bun B hit the stage. I never seen him love until last night. Watching Bun B perform all his UGK classics in his home state of Texas was a special experience. The energy in there was amazing. So much so that everybody channeled their inner Pimp C (RIP) to sing along to his verse on Big Pimpin.

After Bun B got off stage, it was time for the headliner Kendrick Lamar! Kendrick came out to the art of peer pressure and warmed the crowd up. Kendrick’s set begins and he commands the stage like the natural talent that he is. Everybody was singing at the top of their lungs. Pictures and videos won’t do it justice, it was one of those “had to be there” moments. Kendrick brought out the other members of his rap collective TDE for guest verses and songs but there was one surprise guest that made every one go crazy.

After Kendrick finished performing Poetic Justice, three bodyguard looking guys appeared from the back. Kendrick was talking to the crowd and then cued his DJ to play the next track, next thing you know TI runs out to perform his current single “Go Get It”. The crowd went nuts!!! Kendrick did a couple more songs and then did an encore performance of Cartoons & Cereal.

Just when everybody thought it was over, the legendary master chef and Wu Tang rapper Raekwon showed up and shut the place down with performances of some of his best verses and biggest tracks off of “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”. Raekwon closed out the show as well as my SXSW experience. All I can say is that I can’t wait to go next year!

By Malcolm Gray

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