Hip-Hop Showcased at SXSW 2023

todayApril 11, 2023 87 5 5

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By Kenlie Golleher

Rap Music Director


Coming into SXSW, I knew I was going to be in for a treat as a hip-hop fan. Going to a few free showcases last year as someone without a badge, I already knew that having full music badge access to shows and being there for the whole week was going to be insane. With showcase announcements rolling out weeks prior and my schedule getting fuller and fuller by the day, my anticipation for the Spring Break SXSW week to arrive was through the roof. The week eventually came, and I certainly conquered it. While I was able to see so much during my time there, I mainly want to highlight some of the rap and hip-hop conferences and showcases I was lucky enough to attend. Without further ado, here is my little recap of hip-hop-related events I got to attend while attending this year’s SXSW festival.



Beyond music and tech showcases, film premieres, product launches, etc., SXSW is also saturated with chances to catch various keynote speakers and feature sessions that cover a wide range of topics. Two of the conferences I was blessed to have been able to attend were those of hip-hop legends RZA and Killer Mike.


RZA can be seen glanced upwards while talking into a microphone. He is wearing all black. Black golf hat, black blazer, and a black “Property of Wuwear” shirt
RZA during his keynote at the Austin Convention Center. | Kenlie Golleher


The de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, was one of the highlight keynote speakers for me. During his interview, he spoke about his work within his latest film, “Problemista,” which also had its premiere at this year’s SXSW festival. Beyond that, he also touched on the upcoming and final season of his show “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” in which he is a co-creator and music director.


Killer Mike (Michael Render) is wearing black frame glasses, an olive green hoodie with gold chain necklace with a cross pendant. He is seen smiling while holding a microphone.
Killer Mike (Michael Render) during his keynote at the Austin Convention Center. | Kenlie Golleher


Michael Render, known professionally as Killer Mike, came to SXSW to discuss everything Michael—the man behind the music. Mike is one-half of the rap duo, Run the Jewels, in which he works with his longtime friend and producer, El-P. Mike touched on growing up under different circumstances than a lot of his peers, both inside and outside of the music realm, the power of participating in local politics, as well as how powerful he knows he is as an individual. I really enjoyed seeing the confidence and self-love exude from him while he was speaking. While he had so many takeaway sentences throughout his session, my personal favorite was “I know I’m dope. You just ain’t addicted yet.”


On the same day as the unfortunately cancelled Lil Yachty performance for the Billboard stage, J Dilla’s mother, Ma Dukes, spoke at a featured session where she told stories of his life and how his work influenced hip-hop. This was a featured session that tore me apart to miss.



There were so many opportunities to catch rap and hip-hop showcases throughout the week. With there being numerous shows that had both newer, up-and-coming artists and veterans of the genre, there was always a place for hip-hop heads to go and enjoy great music and performances.


Swavay is holding a microphone up to his mouth while looking at the crowd. The background is illuminated by purple lighting. He is wearing a beanie, a grey shirt and a greenish grey jacket.
Swavay performing at the Def Jam showcase. | Kenlie Goheller


I was able to catch rising star and TikTok phenomenon Armani White at several showcases throughout my week, all of which he killed. I was also able to catch Swavay again, whom I had seen open for J.I.D. and Smino on the Love is 4Ever tour earlier this year. I was even able to catch the end of the RapTV showcase at Stubb’s, where I got to see the always-wonderful and entertaining performances from JELEEL! and Mike Dimes. I have had the pleasure of seeing these guys live on different occasions, and I have yet to be disappointed. JELEEL! is for sure up there on my list of favorite live performing artists.


My friend and past KTSW rap music director, Darian Burns, even held his own showcase at Shangri-La for his Ausin-based music consulting firm, Burning Records Music Group. The line-up was stacked with great artists such as Ovrkast., Open Mike Eagle, and Homeboy Sandman, to name a few.


Ovrkast. is holding a microphone up to his mouth. He is wearing a red hat with yellow embroidery, a yellow shirt and a black jacket over top.
Ovrkast. performing at The Authentics showcase. | Kenlie Golleher


One thing about SXSW is that there are always so many different events taking place all around the city at the same time. Some more shows I would’ve loved to attend but sadly had to miss due to scheduling conflicts were J.I.D. and Saba at the Rolling Stones Future of Music showcase, Danny Brown and JPEGMafia at the Dr. Martens showcase, and Bun B.


My time at SXSW ended with such a high at the Beer n Tacos showcase that was held at Parish. I got to see so many great acts, such as Sir Will, Erica Banks, OK Surf, Velcroes and Kodie Shane. We wrapped up the night with the headlining act and infamous member of the Griselda collective, Conway the Machine. The energy at this showcase was unreal, thanks to the greatest MC ever, Fort Knox.


Conway the Machine is looking upwards toward the ceiling. The background is illuminated by red (left) and white (right) lights. He is wearing a white T-shirt, multiple iced out chain necklaces, and red sunglasses.
Conway the Machine performing at the Beer n Tacos showcase. | Kenlie Golleher


All of this is to say that SXSW is truly a place for anyone and everyone to enjoy. There are always so many crazy, fun and exciting events to attend that cater to the interests and hobbies of, honestly, anything you can think of. I can confidently say that SXSW week was genuinely one of the greatest weeks I’ve ever experienced after living 21 years on this planet. If you ever get the chance to attend this insane one- to two-week long festival, FREAKING GO! I can almost guarantee you’ll have an unforgettable time like my friends and I did.


Featured Image by Kenlie Golleher.

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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