* This entry was inspired by the story the good folks at Refined Hype told the other day
In the several years I've known Shake (who I now acknowledge, respect and love as a brother as well as a damn good business partner, artistically inclined Swiss Army Knife, and a general prick), we've gotten into our fair share of rapper hijinks, drunken escapades and other random shenanigans during our travels throughout the globe. Despite them all, my fondest memory will always be our trip to SXSW in 2011.
Our first trip to the music festival in 2010 - primarily fueled by rampant alcohol abuse, unhealthy eating habits and the casual piff intake - was largely forgettable, save for the super weed smoked at a Smokers Club show (which we sponsored) headlined by Devin The Dude, Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa that had myself, Shake, our respective roommates, eskay from Nah Right, and a bunch of other random friends we'd collected throughout the day galumphing through the Austin streets like we were extras on The Walking Dead. Good times. But somewhere in between the midst of the moonshine and Girl Scout Cookie haze I suggested to Shake that we should begin throwing our own showcase at SXSW the following year. Eventually, we would align ourselves with DJBooth/Refined Hype and Last Rights Clothing to help bring that first vision to fruition. "How hard could it be?" we all thought.
The answer? A lot more difficult than we could have ever realized.
Sifting through hundreds of emails on a daily basis is one thing; rounding up a variety of different musical personalities from all over the planet to cohabit long enough to put together a seemingly seamless six-hour concert is an entirely different beast. We were plagued by problems from the gate, whether it was struggling to find financial sponsors, landing an open event space, and procuring artists who actually had the spare time to dedicate approximately 15 minutes of their lives to the showcase for free (by the time the venue was locked down, we had roughly four weeks to find nearly 20 artists). Finally, after several weeks of headache-inducing insanity we ended up with this:
(Sidebar: take a good look at that flyer, paying special attention to the date and the artists we were able to wrangle up in roughly 30 days from our respective basements, bedrooms and couches. Many of these artists that we've supported from the fledgling stages of their careers were on their respective tipping points by the time of the showcase, and have since gone on to become critical darlings, win numerous awards, land placements on major albums, toured the globe a hundred times over, and in the process sold millions of records to say the least. To say we weren't among the very first online publications to shine a spotlight on the likes of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Macklemore, Big K.R.I.T., Skeme, M-Phazes and others is just absurd, and any and every other two-bit website, writer, or whatever that claims that they were needs to keep calm and curve.
But I digress.)
The goal was simple: have a jam-packed event with a variety of musical acts with eclectic sounds throughout the normally slow (by SXSW standards) Friday afternoon, headlined by both Freeway and the entire TDE crew.
If you were to go into your dictionary and look up "Murphy's Law" on March 18th, 2011 you would have seen the above flyer right next to it, as seemingly everything that could go wrong went extremely wrong. Whether it was equipment either missing key components or flat-out not working, to the venue's overzealous "bouncer" who was curving everybody from backpack-wearing attendees to the performers themselves at the door (there were times where, if I had to spin either for performing artist or in between performances, I'd actually have to leave the turntables mid-set to convince the exceedingly over-aggressive security guard to allow said backpackers and artists into the venue), things were a nightmare behind the scenes. However, the show itself was going off without a hitch.
Until it was time for Black Hippy to perform.
After once again dealing with RoboCop at the door, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick, ScHoolboy, their manager Dave Free and their engineer MixedByAli were quickly shuttled to the venue's backroom to prepare for their set. However, during Tanya Morgan's performance a commotion had begun to rumble backstage, prompting the Dizzy Rooster's manager to suddenly run out yelling something about shutting the entire showcase down prematurely, before grabbing the same over-aggressive security guard from the front to follow him backstage. Seconds later, a whirlwind of fists, feet, and expletives come flying out from backstage, with ScHoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, and Ali leading the charge throwing hands at both the bouncer and the manager.
It turns out that after TDE settled in backstage ScHoolboy began to roll a couple "souvenirs" up, which led to the manager asking him to refrain from smoking them. ScHoolboy would actually comply with the manager's wishes, but since the contents of the said souvenirs had already been strewn about Puffy had only wanted to roll them (so to make cleaning up the mess easier) but not smoke them. This didn't sit well with the manager, who then tried to grab the souvenirs out of ScHoolboy's hand. After watching Action Bronson's exploits everybody should know that trying to take someone's weed isn't really the best idea in the world (hell, I don't smoke anymore and even I know that's not a good idea). Needless to say, when the manager tried his luck he got a face full of fist for his troubles.
Trying to quell the anarchy I, alongside Nathan from Refined Hype/DJBooth and Shake, immediately jumped into the fracas to try to break it up. As I'm trying to pull ScHoolboy away from the arms of the bouncer I felt someone grab my shoulder, which I immediately shook off. That hand would grab my shoulder again, much harder this time, followed by another hand gripping my other shoulder. Before I could react I found myself being lifted off of the ground and placed (read: thrown) away from the brawl, courtesy of one Jay Rock. As I was launched into the air by the gruff-voiced rapper things seemingly slowed to a crawl for me, and the only thing I could think of mid-flight was "... I need to start going back to the gym."
(A month later I got a membership at my local YMCA, and have faithfully gone to work out every week ever since.)
Eventually things calmed down enough for TDE to angrily leave the venue after being kicked out. However, in between the pandemonium the venue's manager had slipped out and alerted the authorities, who would then stop TDE just as they were exiting the Dizzy Rooster. Searching them, the cops ultimately found the souvenirs in ScHoolboy's pocket and arrested him on the spot. It would turn out that getting bagged for marijuana possession would come back to haunt Q much later, essentially prohibiting him from leaving the country to perform at various times. I even clearly remember his first attempt to travel into Canada a few months after the incident; he was scheduled to perform with Kendrick (whom I was deejaying for at the time) and Ab-Soul during their first trip to the country, only to get rejected by the airport's border patrol and sent back to California. Further attempts with Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky would prove fruitless as well. Fortunately, he's been allowed to travel outside of the States since, and according to Nathan that charge will finally be cleared from his record sometime this year.
The following night Shake and I ran into TDE again (minus ScHoolboy Q, as he'd gone to jail), where we would all talk and ultimately smooth out everything. Incidentally, since that event our respective relationships with each other has gotten tighter (backing them up in a fight will do that for you), and we all consider each other to be really good friends. However, after the bedlam Shake and I have not done any more showcases since, as it was just too much to handle. Coincidentally, later that night we would randomly stumble into one of the most epically awesome house parties (highlighted by Shake snatching a random magnum bottle of champagne from the fridge and drinking out of it, before drunkenly jumping onto the party's makeshift stage and singing along to Plies' verse on Gucci Mane's "Wasted" with Skeme and Dom Kennedy), and it would inspire us to instead just throw parties at SXSW -- now known as The DopeHouse. Trust us, they're a lot more easier to manage.
Hm... maybe next time I'll divulge the story on my first trip to Toronto with Big Sean.