Upcoming Hip Hop is heading down to SXSW on Monday, and to be honest, we’re overwhelmed. To break it down, I’m focusing on the genre I’m most hyped about. Grime has had a presence at SXSW for a few years’ now, with artists like Stormzy, Elf Kid and Little Simz already proven why this genre deserves the attention of the US. Aside from curing my homesickness, the live shows next week are going to be big. Not only are the artists scheduled some of the best on the scene, but if any audience is going to appreciate these artists in the US, it’s going to be this one.
Grime State of Mind is one of the two main grime events of the week. Presented by Dub Academy, it’s a collaborative effort between a range of cross-Atlantic sponsors (GRM Daily, Serato and The Den) and it’s not going to disappoint.
The line-up has some of the most established grime artists, producers & DJs in the game - Logan Sama, Rude Kid, Miss C Brown, Frisco & DJ Maximum from BBK - alongside some of the more upcoming MCs like Safone and Buggsy. What’s even more special is the range of UK cities covered; this is not just a London grime showcase – Bristol and Birmingham are firmly on the map. This is important to highlight and shows how ingrained and widespread grime is in the UK, which can only mean a wider range of styles and MCs for American audiences to choose from. As within any genre, not all artists sound the same, and it’s essential for these distinctions to be showcased at an event like this.
Some of the same artists (Frisco, Logan Sama, Rude Kid) are also performing at Musicalize Presents Kano & Friends, along with a few more – the legendary Ghetts and Little Simz. Now this is something to write home about – quite literally. Kano has been on the scene for a long, long time and helped bring about its current popularity. Who knows what Kano has in store for this one; it could go anywhere. Having just seen Little Simz whip up a NYC audience into a frenzy, I cannot wait to see her again in such quick succession. It’s also highly like there will be a few surprise appearances, perhaps from UK artists at other SXSW events, or non-billed acts altogether. Speculating on who he might bring out is too much, but I’m ready.
An artist you have most likely heard of if you’re an OVO fan is Dave. Drake remixed his track Wanna Know and then Dave switched up Drake’s Two Birds, One Stone to create Two Birds, No Stones - and ever since then, he’s been everywhere. His success could not be more deserved; at a tender 18 years’ old, Dave is only just beginning. His EP Six Paths is a masterpiece, with lyricism most artists can only dream of and content that’s raw but not uncomfortable to listen to. Presented by BBC 1 / PPL & PRS, Dave’s show is going to draw a big crowd, so get there early (but I’m sure he’ll be popping up elsewhere too…)
AJ Tracey is another key player in the grime takeover. He had a big 2016 and so far, 2017 is looking pretty damn good. A big tune from last year is Thiago Silver with Dave, a must-listen for any football fans (Brit definition…) whether you think you like grime or not. Fingers crossed for a joint performance somewhere at SXSW, which seems highly likely given they are embarking on a North American tour together straight after Austin.
AJ has just released his new EP Lil Tracey and an almost sold-out UK tour to go with it. All 6 tracks are worth listening to on loop and his latest video, Luke Cage, was filmed in NYC. Maybe we’ll be seeing him here more often – let’s hope so.
SXSW may be getting bigger and bigger, but it’s still the place for new artists to make a mark on US soil – and the grime scene has no doubt got big things planned. By the time SXSW 2018 rolls around, you will have heard plenty more of these artists, so take the opportunity to catch them before everyone else does (the point of SXSW)?
Upcoming Hip Hop is going to be at SXSW all week (13-19 March) so get in touch if you’re around (Nicola@upcominghiphop.net) we’re always wanting to meet new artists, especially if it’s over a few tacos and a cold beer.