Thursday night was way more focused than Wednesday, with two must-see gigs on the Complex itinerary: Lil Wayne’s #DEWeezy show, a Mountain Dew sponsored event at The Austin Music Hall and The Warner Sound Urban Night showcase at La Zona Rosa featuring B.o.B, his Grand Hustle captain T.I. and Maybach Music Group’s Stalley, Meek Mill, and Wale.
Of course, they happened at the same time. Fortunately, Complex Music had both bases covered. I posted up at La Zona and our Rob Kenner held down Austin Music Hall. Here’s how our evenings went.
The Warner Sound Urban Night
From jump, it was obvious SXSW’s hip-hop nation was a divided one. La Zona Rosa wasn’t nearly as packed as it could have been, with about a quarter of the room empty, presumably because Young Money skater dude Lil Wayne was rocking just blocks away. Fans of MMG, Grand Hustle, and YMCMB had some difficult decisions to make. Those who picked the Warner showcase didn’t appear to regret their choice at all.
B.o.B—dressed in a chambray shirt, yellow snapback hat, and red pants—hit the stage with his full band around 11pm and launched into the grisly “Beast Mode.” From there he quickly transitioning to the lighthearted “Magic,” with long-haired vixens dancing alongside him.
Then T.I. tore through. “It’s the king, bitch,” he yelled to the delight of many in attendance before launching into a tornado of angry hits—“I’m Back,” “Rubber Band Man,” and “You Don’t Know Me.” In a white San Antonio Spurs snapback and a gray Billionaire Boys Club sweatshirt with dog tags dangling from his neck, Tip let crowd know he was glad to be at SXSW. “You know I've never been here before,” he said. “We gon' turn up. Let's ride." And then “What You Know" exploded out of the speakers.
The best part about B.o.B and T.I.’s set is that it was clearly a partnership. Tip obviously has more smashes on his stat sheet, but his Grand Hustle brethren splashed in a few of his own, like “Don’t Let Me Fall” and “Nothin’ on You.” While T.I. closed with “Whatever You Like.” In short, they killed.
When it came to the Maybach crew, the focus was more about who wasn’t there than who was. The collective had originally been scheduled to hit the stage before Tip and B.o.B, so when the lineup was switched to have them close out the night, whispers ran rampant that the Bawse himself might be joining the trio.
Although Rick Ross didn’t show, his MMG family were nothing to slouch at. Stalley’s blue collar rhymes set the table for Meek’s treacherous raps. In a red and leopard-sleeved hoodie and blue jeans, the Philly spitter launched into his bangers. It was creeping towards 1am and he sensed the crowd’s exhaustion.
But with all the work it took for him to make it to the show—he had missed his flight earlier that day but somehow made it to the stage in time—he wasn’t trying to see any long faces. “You know how many flights I had to catch to get here,” he asked before bringing out Yo Gotti for “Don’t Panic” and wrapped with “House Party.”
Next up was Wale, retro fresh wearing Michael Jordan’s 1996 NBA All Star jersey and a skully. Apparently, he’d just learned that time wasn’t on his side. "I got 20 minutes to change your life," he informed the audience and then got down to business. Folarin and his band smoothed things out with his biggest hit yet, “Lotus Flower Bomb.” Then he brought the ruckus, jumping into the crowd for “Tats on My Arm,” which lifted their spirits. MMG’s set was every bit as solid as Grand Hustle’s, really. It’s too bad more people didn’t get to see it.
"I wish we could have spent more time together,” Wale said before he left. I hate these conditions.” Me too.
With a billboard on the highway in from the airport, wrapped vehicles on the streets, and posters on every lamp post in town, Lil Wayne’s DEWeezy campaign was the worst-kept secret in Austin, Texas. Although details of last night’s YMCMB concert at the Austin Music Hall were kept under wraps until the day of the show, by 8pm there was an enormous line down 3rd Street, several massive tour buses parked behind the venue, and the unmistakable Young Money excitement was in the air.
In the VIP area overlooking the stage, Pepsi Co. brand managers talked about their newly announced endorsement deal with Lil Wayne. “He’s a rock star,” said one, adding that the rapper’s passion for skateboarding made it a natural fit for a soft drink that’s long been associated with action sports. They also explained that video director Chris Robinson would be shooting a TV spot during the night’s performance.
Although neither Nicki, Drake, or Tyga were in the building, this was a night for the rest of the ever-expanding YMCMB roster to get a little shine. No, that doesn’t mean Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit. The American Idol alumnus Chris Richardson served up a few pop tunes and former UK banghra heartthrob Jay Sean prowled the stage in his shiny gold sneakers singing smoothed-out R&B.
Lil Chuckie skateboarded onstage wearing camo shorts, yellow knee socks, and an iced-out Rugrats medallion. He kicked things off with an LMFAO “Party Rock Anthem” moment and later brought out two female dancers who looked like they might have been tour-bus stowaways (if not throwaways).
Things got much more interesting when Mystikal and his DJ hit the stage. Young Money’s Chief Visionary Officer Cortez Bryant introduced the former No Limit soldier by saying “it was such a privilege to sign this brother; we all grew up listening to him.” Mystikal’s years of incarceration have not depleted his turbo-charged voice in the slightest.
And with all that pent-up energy to release, he was obviously savoring every moment onstage. His expressive body language gave extra oomph to every line of songs like “Danger,” “Bouncin’ Back” and his latest release, “Original.” Mystikal had the packed house singing every punchline at maximum volume. And when he performed “Make Em Say Uhh” against an enormous red YMCMB backdrop, it felt like a milestone in the history of New Orleans rap.
After a lengthy band set-up, Lil Wayne’s set got off to a bumpy start. The band launched into their introductory fanfare, the drummer punishing his kit, the bassist and guitarist thrashing away while the screen behind the stage flashed bolts of lightning, and then... nothing.
The DJ eventually threw on a record to kill some time while the crowd chanted “Wee-Zee! Wee-Zee!” until Wayne decided he was ready to hit the stage. But all the waiting was forgotten once Wayne charged out from stage right, skateboard in hand, wearing a Trukfit hat, baggy gray shorts with flames on one leg, and black Air Jordans. His first song set the tone—“I’m going in... and I’ma go hard.”
Nobody commands a stage like Weezy. He doesn’t dance; the music simply possesses him. Jumping, spinning, and whirling like a dervish as his dreads flailed in the spotlight’s glare, Wayne charged through a few of his endless catalog of hits, from “A Milli” to “Every Girl,” and “I’m On One.”
Then, midway through his set, he launched into a monologue about how “It’s not what what you do, it’s how you do it... so do you.” It felt a lot like a Moutain Dew testimonial, and sure enough he closed his speech by lifting up a bottle of the green soft drink in the air and saying “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I do.”
In case anybody was unclear, Wayne let the crowd in on the business: “Okay that was the Mountain Dew commercial,” he said proudly. “Y’all make some noise for me not fucking up.” As the set went on, Wayne triumphantly kicked and pushed his skateboard across the stage a couple of times.
Nothing fancy, but he didn’t slip or bust his lip so let’s call it a win. Shanell, Mack Maine, and Cory Gunz joined Wayne for a “Bedrock” finale and everybody went home happy. You know how Young Money Dew.