Sixth Street, the “dirty” part mostly controlled by students and tourists, becomes a stunning hub for aspiring musicians during SXSW. You struggle to walk through it. Imagine a rap video where the artist is pointing at the camera, surrounded by well-wishers. Now picture 20 or so crews simultaneously filming rap videos.
When Kanye West performed at SXSW in 2009, the genre took notice. Most mainstream rap stars have forged parties since—Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, French Montana, the reunited Swisha House, and Cam’ron performed at competing venues Friday night, for example—and aspiring rappers converge to pass out their best burned CDs. Or business cards. Or taped posters to light posts. A Dallas collective, Bipolar Entertainment, parked under the interstate bridge late Saturday and jovially convinced passing rappers to join their freestyle jam session.
When you’re not on the list, you still show up and make noise.
To toast this vital culture, here are the best rap videos from artists whose fliers and CDs I found on the sidewalk. Vice had this idea last year, and 2017’s batch of discards had enough of a digital footprint to warrant a closer look.
A few notes: Lil Baby’s Perfect Timing is a mixtape I know nothing about, but I saw his poster everywhere. It’s apparently on the way. I found a flier from Cuban-born Parisian La Dame Blanche, which led me to a Bandcamp page; the music is interesting but omitted here for genre continuity. This DJ Johnny-curated mixtape features a song called “I Remember” that is just great, but I can’t embed the tune because it’s only streaming on Spinrilla).
Enjoy the streaming music below, and as the great Gucci Mane says on a song featured here: Don’t turn that doorknob—you might see your girl naked.
The best street rap of SXSW 2017
Rise and grind.
Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified La Dame Blanche’s stage name.