For VIBE‘s annual SXSW takeover, we partnered with Mazda and Epic Records to bring fans a unique experience filled with the the game’s most wanted artists.
With a loaded bill of killer talent topped by the boss himself, Rick Ross, rap and R&B fanatics descended on the Mazda Studio at Empire early to secure a spot inside for the evening’s festivities.
On the turntables, Teklife DJs mixed up rapid-fire ghetto-tech — along with trap hits — to make sure the party was lit from the moment doors opened to the last barrage of rhymes in the wee hours of the morning. Here’s what you missed.
Hitting the spot straight from hosting the 2017 Woodies, Rick Ross and crew turned all the way up, coming through his litany of rap anthems and club hits. Joined early in his set by Wale, the pair blazed into their recent collaboration, “Trap Trap Trap.” Touching heavily on current full-length, Rather You Than Me, Ross rolled out “Dead Presidents,” reaching back into his catalog for songs like “9 Piece” and “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” for a bombastic and most fitting end to the party.
Sweeping into the club with the thorough precision of a presidential motorcade, gangster legend Yo Gotti made his presence felt from the moment his was in the vicinity. Taking the stage with a couple of hype men, Gotti knocked out fan favorites like “Law” and “That’s What’s Up” to a roar of approval from the crowd amidst a sea of cellphones capturing the moment.
Another of the night’s performers who came direct from the 2017 Woodies, Jidenna put on a tight and well-rehearsed set of positivity and self-reflection. Showcasing his debut album, The Chief, the dapper singer traversed through a variety of moods, ranging from “Bambi” to “Long Live the Chief” before the big finish featuring “Classic Man” and “The Let Out” and “Some Kind of Way.”
This young protégé of DJ Khaled veered between piano-bound crooner to seductive stage prowling front man. Regaling the crowd with topical tunes while focusing on the ladies, his set was highlighted by an inspired take on his biggest song, “Don’t Mind.”
This high energy combo overran the stage like a house on fire, assaulting the crowd with hardcore rhymes with shirtless hype men in ski masks onstage counting money and rolling blunts. Set standouts included the group’s rework of Crystal Waters’ classic “Gypsy Woman,” “Lateisha” and the single “Decemba,” which still packed quite a punch even without an appearance from featured rapper Andre 3000.
Fans of no-nonsense, straight up rap found an instant champion in Nick Grant. Coming with straight bars, the South Carolina made a strong impression on lovers of real deal rapping. Cruising through tracks “Bouncin’” and “Gold Chains,” he took aficionados of the old-school on a journey down memory lane with a tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., spitting his own rhymes over Biggie’s biggest hits.
The lone female rapper among Lil Yachty’s notorious Sailing Team, Atlanta native Kodie Shane captivated the VIBE crowd with her unique style and stage presence. Displaying an intriguing duality between masculine and feminine, her vast personality was buoyed by bouncy singsong tracks and memorable hooks.
Straddling the line between hip-hop and R&B mix, Swift appealed to the women in the audience with smooth, melodic tunes like the romantic single “Pull Up.”