Editors Note: Ray Dawn is a Pittsburgh based emcee and part of the Blasfamily. Ray Dawn performed at two showcases at SXSW this year. We asked him to write a little bit about his experience for you guys. If you’re like me and you didn’t make it to SXSW this year then here’s what you missed out on. ~ Dave.
Simply put, SXSW was the shit!!! Time and time again SXSW vets told me that whatever I expected to happen would not even come close to the actual experience. And damn they were right!!! So much happened…it all hasn’t even really sunk in yet. But I will try my best to recap my experiences day by day! Needless to say I’m already counting down the days until next year…
The bulk of the Hip-Hop showcases didn’t start until the 14th but my manager Fawn and I arrived in Austin a couple days early so we could get settled. That night Jay-Z rocked the American Express stage. Unable to attend due to a lack of tech badges, we streamed the show to our MacBooks from the telly. If you by chance watched the stream and wondered why the crowd was so lackluster, it was because the crowd was composed of techies lacking a comprehensive grasp of Jay’s catalog…
More chillin’ at the telly! On this day we orchestrated our plan of attack for the showcases we wanted to see and worked on some promo for my upcoming showcases. Hell, we even treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at Chili’s! That 2 for $20 is the truth haha!!!
So we finally get to venture out to the epicenter of SXSW, 6th Street! En route wouldn’t you know I happened to see a Mac Miller billboard! Pittsburgh motherfucker!!! This is also the day I would discover that I have allergies in Texas – itchy eyes, dry runny nose! How in the hell can a nose run non-stop but feel dry??? Any who, around 3 in the afternoon the day took a crazy turn.
MTV was at SX filming a new series titled HIVE HOUSE. MTV rented out a house, had Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q rock for an invite-only crowd of 30. Shit was mad dope! Free brew, free shirts, a few doobies circulated through the house (The show director told us we had to stop chiefin’ right after he took a few drags himself lol). The duo from TDE are some cool ass dudes…definitely the highlight of DAY 3.
I waited on this day for a while…three years to be exact! 2 showcases my first year at SXSW, and wouldn’t you know my allergies were at their worst (and yeah, didn’t know I had allergies until I got to Texas…I hear this is common)! I picked up some Claritin – the recommended dose is 1 pill per 12 hours…I popped 2 with no results. But nothing was going to hinder my ability to perform though, nothing! I fuckin’ killed it, exceeded all expectations. It truly was a dream come true.
After my set at the first showcase I chilled in VIP with Emilio Rojas and Talib Kweli – cool ass dudes. Skewby was walkin’ about…The Cranberry Show as well. I gotta say it feels good to be on the inside and accepted as a peer. My second showcase was an hour later so we didn’t get to hang for too long – killed that one as well! Even Wiz and the whole TGOD crew “rolled” through. Dude’s chased after Wiz harder than the females lol.
Later that evening Fawn and I got to attend an invite-only gifting suite hosted by DJ GREEN LANTERN. First year at SXSW, and here we are on the top floor of the W hotel in a penthouse suite with DJ GREEN LANTERN et al! Shit was too real! Clothing sponsors were set up in one of the bedrooms and they showed mad love! Fawn and I walked out with bags on bags of clothes, headphones, jewelry, sun glasses, stickers, etc. You sacrifice everything for your dream, and then you get free shit!! Crazy right??!! One of the reps even gave me a FREE bag of tree with papers!!! Utterly ridiculous!!! GREEN LANTERN got hard-copy of “Passport Dreams” and a shirt as well; he tweeted me in fact letting me know the shirt was dope, shouts to Joe Boots!!! We were great this night…we won heavy!
Prolly the coolest thing about this day though…my friend Christina driving from Houston to see me rock. I went to law school with her; she’s now a practicing entertainment lawyer in Texas. Three years ago I told her I was dropping out to be a rapper. Three years later, she sees me perform twice at SXSW. That definitely felt good.
This day was light as hell! Starting our days at 8AM and ending them at 5AM started to take its toll. We didn’t start hitting up festivities until about 6 in the evening. We laid low, ate some Jimmy John’s, checked out a DJ showcase that Pittsburgh’s own DJ Bonics was spinning at. All in all another dope day in the books.
The culmination of the festival – Fawn and I ran the streets with J.U.S.I.T.C.E League artist LAWS along with his friend/rap cohort Mason Caine. And just when we though SXSW couldn’t get any crazier, St Patty’s day drew an estimated 20,000 extra people!!! It was chaos, complete chaos!!! And somehow Fawn and I managed to NOT get drunk… No complaints though, we worked.
We capped off the night with our A3C/DJBooth/Refined Hype family. They put on a very VERY dope showcase. A lot of likeminded friends were in the building. It almost felt like we were in our 2nd home, Atlanta.
The grind continues…see you next year Austin!