The best part of living in Austin, TX is the two-week period that shuts my city down. Some people call it SXSW (South By Southwest), but I call it Heaven. People from around the world take the mecca to the hallowed ground of the convention center and surrounding venues to discuss Film, Education, Technology and Music. Past speakers have included Bruce Springsteen, and the Obamas – did I mention it’s the highlight of my year?
Playing and learning during SXSW comes with a hefty price tag for most visitors, with badges costing close to $1200 a piece depending on your choice of access. However students and individuals in the community have the opportunity to volunteer (for 40 hours minimum) and earn a Platinum Badge, or you’re in the group of attendees like myself, who don’t pay a single dollar and have a jammed packed schedule of free tacos and private shows through RSVPs.
RSVPs come with the cost of time. Each year I spend roughly 20 hours entering my email and organizing each event by order of interest as I wait for the coveted “Invite-Only” emails from events like FADER Fort. Run by FADER Magazine, Fort is a three-day private event that closes out the music portion of SXSW for media, music fans and subscribers of the publication. Unlike most events where artists apply to perform, the FADER Fort also invites the performing artists/bands based on their previous involvement with the magazine and influence in their genre. Many acts have earned high followings post-event that has boosted their careers tremendously.
This year was my fifth invite to FADER Fort. I’m a proud returning member of such a heart-wrenching single email that many don’t receive, but is spending three days in the Texas sun with unlimited alcohol and fruit popsicles and cool hip music worth it in the future? Yes. And no. Here’s my main takeaways from FADER Fort 2018:
The Lineup. Every year I’m excited and disappointed by this single word. This year I got to see King Combs (Diddy’s son) perform, but I also (like a lot of people) fell for the rumor that Drake was showing up as the Special Guest who closes the whole event out Friday night. Instead, I waited in the sun for 6 hours only to see Rae Sremmurd for the third time at FF. Swae Lee pouring Whiskey onto the stage is getting old, and for a publication that takes pride in promoting upcoming artists – why do they keep choosing a group people I can see at eight other venues during SXSW?
Women in Hip Hop. I’m cool with women making a career out of hip hop, but what i’m not okay with is hearing a female rapper do nothing but call other women hoes and putting them down. Between Detroit rapper Molly Brazy, Bay Area rapper Saweetie, and punk-inspired rapper Rico Nasty, I didn’t even want to write about the genre anymore. I felt like an awkward outsider who will never be a “bad bitch” even if that just means being successful.
After seeing them perform I also agree with what Ebro said on Hot 97 to Saweetie; female rappers need to stop being basic and up their game to be taken seriously. I understand that there is a level of creativity in sound that is “stolen” from more established artists like Nikki Minaj or Cardi B, however that doesn’t mean you need to be a spitting image. Females in hip hop should spearhead a change in conversation, and steer away from talking about women keeping their legs closed.
Even though I didn’t enjoy this year as much as past events, I recommend anyone (if you are lucky enough) to at least head over to FADER Fort once during their time on the Austin Eastside. At least just for the free stuff, like all SXSW events. Did I mention I had eight tacos inspired by the FIFA World Cup at the Fox Sports pop-up or that I got to play with baby goats while getting free rolling papers at the Viceland Bus? Basically I’m saying, just come to SXSW next year for Spring Break.
Photo Cred: Sara Loretta, Instagram