SXSW's strong hip-hop lineup


Acclaimed New York rapper Talib Kweli will play three shows for this year's SXSW (Photo Courtesy of

With so many artists coming, it’s easy to lose yourself in the music. This year’s South By Southwest hip-hop lineup offers both legendary emcees and youngblood up-and-comers, offering something for everyone. The Daily Texan lists the top 10 for your convenience.

MC Lars

Tuesday, March 12, Flamingo Cantina, 1:10-2 a.m.

MC Lars is a nerdy dude who, instead of rapping about drugs or sex, shows an appreciation for English literature. He graduated from Stanford University with an English degree and studied abroad at the University of Oxford. His 2012 Edgar Allan Poe EP reflects his love for the language, like “Flow Like Poe”’s chorus, “I’m going hard on that tetrameter.” 


Wednesday, March 13, Antone’s, 10-10:40 p.m.

Hopsin self-produces much of his alternative hip-hop releases. With clever wordplay, he frequently disses mainstream rappers like Tyler, the Creator; Drake; and Soulja Boy for being bad influences on modern youth. His rhymes criticize underage drinking, dropping out of school and the hip-hop industry as a whole. 

Dead Prez

Wednesday, March 13, Antone’s, 11-11:40 p.m.

For the more politically inclined, Dead Prez offers critical social commentary. The hip-hop duo, made up of and M-1, often critique white racism, the prison-industrial complex and the public school system. In 2008, at one of their performances at Evergreen State College in Washington, a riot ensued and ended with the flipping of a police car. 

Slim Thug

Wednesday, March 13, The Main, 1:20-2 a.m. 

Slim Thug shows why Houston is still the third hip-hop capital of the US, behind New York and California. Although his lyrics are particularly uninspiring, his deep, relaxed flow makes for a good time. 


Thursday, March 14, Club de Ville, TBA

YelaWolf looks to make up for last year’s SXSW, when he had to cancel his performance because of a ruptured spleen. The heavily tattooed Alabama rapper is known for his extremely fast flow and semi-redneck subject matter, typified on his 2010 single “Pop the Trunk.” The show is scheduled as “Yelawolf with Special Guests,” so maybe he’ll be joined onstage by some big names.

Killer Mike

Thursday, March 14, Bar 96, 12:30-1:30 a.m. 

After winning a Grammy with fellow Atlanta group OutKast in 2003 for “The Whole World,” last year’s R.A.P. Music took Killer Mike to the next level. He’s easily one of the most interesting rappers of 2013, offering a mixture of exciting gangster rap and thought-provoking political commentary. 


Thursday, March 14, Scoot Inn, 1:15-2 a.m. 

As the leader and producer of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA needs no introduction. Like most Wu-Tang solo performances, RZA is likely to select individual verses from Wu-Tang Clan releases while interspersing songs from his solo career as Bobby Digital.  

Joey Bada$$ & Pro Era

Thursday, March 14, The North Door, 1:20-2 a.m. 

Friday, March 15, Lucille, TBA

The 18-year-old Brooklyn native was signed to Cinematic Music Group at age 15 for his freestyling techniques. Last year, Bada$$ released two mixtapes, 1999 and Rejex, to critical acclaim. Inspired by fellow East Coast rap acts, the Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep, Bada$$’s lyrics portray a young mind growing up in a bleak inner city over New York-style minimalist beats. 

Talib Kweli

Friday, March 15, Empire Control Room, 1-1:40 a.m.

The Pandora Porch, 12-1 a.m. 

Saturday, March 16, Haven, 1-2 a.m.

Kweli is often regarded as one of the best rap artists of our time, along with frequent collaborator Mos Def. His music features jazz and soul influences, and his lyrics frequently deal with philosophical issues and how they apply to modern-day black society. 


Saturday, March 16, The Main, 1:10-2 a.m. 

Rounding out this year’s Houston presence is Z-Ro, a rapper known for his deep voice, singing and hood rep. He’s released an incredible 16 albums and 13 mixtapes since 1999. Z-ro typifies the Dirty South movement with a slow vocal delivery and often reminisces about deceased fellow Houston rappers Pimp C and DJ Screw. 

Honorable mentions:

The Pharcyde

Saturday, March 16, Club de Ville, 1:15 - 2:00 a.m. 

Big K.R.I.T.

Friday, March 15, FADER Fort, 3:45 PM 

Chief Keef

Saturday, March 16, 1100 Warehouse, 10:35 -10:55 p.m. 


Friday, March 15, Scoot Inn, 10:15-10:45 p.m. 

Trinidad Jame$  

Friday, March 15, Suite 101, 1:30 - 2:00 a.m.