"Paul Wall and I had lots of beef," Chamillionare recounted to the modest crowd Thursday morning at La Zona Rosa, "No, like, a lot of beef."
The Houston princes proceeded to playfully apologize to each other for a decade of lost collaborations and then the house lights came up. A triumphant final note in a typical, tiring opening South by Southwest day. But let's backtrack.
After worming through the vast Fader Fort wristband pickup line and then jump-starting the afternoon with a flash performance from Danger Mouse and the bro from The Shins's undeniably listenable and pretty new band, Broken Bells, ATG waited around at one of Brooklyn Vegan's numerous bashes with worthy non-hip-hop (Japandroids, Titus Andronicus, Black Angels), vegan ice cream (no matter how offputting veganism is for its blatant disregard towards gloriously greasy Western diets, the cream is just fine), and vodka teas until one of Brooklyn Vegan's photographers confirmed GZA wouldn't make it.
The GZA is not in my top three Wu-Tang Clan members, but he's always been the wordy intellectual and his craftsmanship reputation has played well with all the indie rock collaborations dude's been on since last year. But he's first and foremost a rapper and rappers cancel shows.
Reporters also miss shows because they don't bother to read a Facebook message from performing talent.
Minutes later, I arrived at Phranchyze's well-placed, well-executed cd release party having missed the music part. If you're an Austin artist and you want Austin music fans to support you during SXSW when the world is in their backyard, do something. Phran's event was early, concise (2-6pm), offered drinks, was at a fresh new retailer for rare kicks and tees (aesthetics, son). Also, dude's album is dope.
Anyway, we talked college hoops, reminisced about an era when Texas freestylers would rehash same lines over and over ("I kick ass like 'Tekken'" for instance).
"I like Syracuse man," Phranchyze said, "I like Baylor in the Final Four. I've filled out so many brackets I don't remember. But Robbie Hummel is a bitch."
The proceedings led to interviews in lobbies and back to Fader Fort.
Early on, Fort security told me Nas would be performing during the week. Given his official showcase was Wednesday, and that I didn't see two enormous stars (Damian Marley, his album collaborator) taking in the conference together and going to Chuy's and The Salt Lick, safe money had them as the Wednesday special guest.
"Nas Is Like" set off a firestorm of open bar-fueled party people's hands in the air. So did "NY State of Mind" and "One Love." But it popped off too quick and classic Nasir led to well-received songs from Welcome to Jamrock and then a bunch of stuff no one's heard because it won't be available for public consumption until May. 30 minutes later it was over, time to journey 1.6 miles to La Zona Rosa.
Texas rappers are far and away the most charming rappers. After a half-empty set of mostly stoned dudes watched stoically as an Usher type singer dry humped the air and sang slow jams, the underground conglomerate showcase took off. CD-Rs were thrown into the crowd, 30-plus friends and well-wishers stood around stage taking videophone footage, flipcams saw it all.
Chalie Boy was incredible. Trae was historic. Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, back together after beef tore apart their professional relationship, killed. Only two cuts from 2002's collaborative masterpiece, Get Ya Mind Correct, made the setlist (you know which ones). But it was a rundown of classic freestyles from Swisha House tapes, brilliant remixes, guest spots like "Drive Slow," solo hits.