While SXSW has traditionally been a proving ground for unsigned artists, in recent years stadium-level acts have begun to overshadow the up-and-comers, who have cut their teeth at the almost week-long Music event in Austin, Texas for the past twenty-five years.
One such artist, who saw his star rise after being labeled rap’s breakout star of SXSW 2010, and has since been signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE imprint, is Gary, Ind. rapper Freddie Gibbs, who noted the change in this year’s conference, which featured performances by Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and The-Dream.
“I still think it’s something dope for independent artists, but this year it’s getting a little Hollywood and corporate and s—, to be honest,” Gibbs told The Boombox, while taking in a stellar set by Brooklyn indie band Dive at the Fader Fort.
“I did a lot of groundwork here a couple years ago, so like I said, it’s a good thing for up-and-coming artists and artists putting in that work, but it is a little Hollywood this year, and a little bogus,” Gibbs continued. “Everything got a label on it, brands. That’s cool and all, I know you gotta sell your s—, but it’s taking away from being initial.”
Discussing this year’s overabundance of big-name hip-hop acts — a genre which was hardly represented before Hip-Hop Director Matt Sonzala began booking rap acts in 2004 — Gibbs lamented the lessened impact of surprise performances by heroes like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
“It doesn’t meen nothin’ no more. When an artist like that come through, it should mean somethin’. It should be a dope experience. I wouldn’t mind just seeing big artists in the crowd, being spectators, just to see this type of s—,” he said, referring to the unique-looking indie band on stage. “With me, it’s just about coming here, hearing good music. I go to shows, all that s—, it’s a good experience for me.”
When asked to name his favorite act at SXSW, Gibbs gave a surprising answer — California hardcore band Trash Talk, who previously caused a near-riot at the Fader Fort in 2011.