I arrived at the Mohawk just a few beers before Fresno rhyme prodigy Fashawn gripped the mic. There was no way that I was getting up front; from the upper balcony the place looked like people soup, and heads were not surrendering their hard-fought spaces.
Good thing I brought Dubb Sicks; the Austin vagrant had just wrapped a set at the Creekside Lounge, and decided to come along. As we stood in the rear - wondering how to charge the stage - he grabbed the nearest trash can and began to part the crowd: "Excuse me - got to get your filthy fucking garbage through."
Like an ambulance chaser, I followed Dubb to the very front near the stage, where he left the barrel for the remainder of the show. It's a good thing he pulled a Moses, too, since Fashawn was about to crack one of the best sets I've heard in Texas.
There's a lot of talk about "rappers who just stand there and rap." Somehow, with the emergence of hipster-hop came an expectation that motherfuckers should be cart-wheeling in neon boxer briefs while their dancers fellate orange dildoes.
But while a circus act is fine from time to time, Fashawn kicks what I would argue is the best sort of rap set imaginable. With the vocal clarity of Immortal Technique and his remarkable Nas-like cadence, he fully-animated his 2009 classic (not an exaggeration) debut Boy Meets World.
For his first SXSW, Fashawn couldn't have made a deeper impression, and it was truly overwhelming to see such a hysterical response to legitimate hip-hop. The expectations have now been raised even higher than they already were, but if anyone can clear the hurdle it's this 21-year-old powerhouse.