SXSW 2018 Recap: Hip Hop, Latin Folk and Mexican Barbecue | Texas Public Radio

SXSW 2018 Recap: Hip Hop, Latin Folk and Mexican Barbecue

Mar 19, 2018
Originally published on March 19, 2018 7:46 pm

The 2018 South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas has come to an end. But before the week-long fest finished, Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras and NPR Music hip-hop correspondent Rodney Carmichael met up at a barbecue joint in Austin to dish about their favorite performances from the week.

Tierra Whack

"This is, like, my new favorite hip-hop artist right now," Carmichael says. "She has this song called 'Mumbo Jumbo' ... that she laid down rough vocals for and she never went back and cleaned them up. It sounds so good, and her energy on stage was so incredible."

YouTube

La Cuneta Son Machin

"They do a combination of Nicaraguan folk music mixed with jazz, mixed with ska, mixed with a bit of rock," Contreras says. "They blew the roof of this place."

YouTube

Sudan Archives

"She's up on the stage; this tall, thin, regal-looking black woman with an afro that adds another five feet to her stature," Carmichael says. "It's just a mix of soul and funk and classical thrown in."

YouTube

Hear the full conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The South by Southwest music festival is a wrap. That means the musicians are back on tour or back to recording studios. And the journalists who went to cover the festival are back at their desk jobs. Among those journalists are NPR's Felix Contreras and Rodney Carmichael. But before they left, they sat down to talk about their highlights from the week, and they did it in true South by Southwest fashion, over some roadside barbecue.

RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: So Austin South by Southwest experience is not just about the music. You've got to get your grub on too.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Oh, absolutely, man.

CARMICHAEL: OK, OK, OK.

CONTRERAS: You've got to bring the pants with the elastic waist.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: They started with one of Rodney's favorites.

CARMICHAEL: OK, let me tell you about Tierra Whack. This is, like, my new favorite hip-hop artist right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUMBO JUMBO")

TIERRA WHACK: (Singing) Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CARMICHAEL: She has this song called "Mumbo Jumbo." You've heard of mumble rap, right?

CONTRERAS: Right, right.

CARMICHAEL: Which is basically this negative word that they put on a lot of southern trap rap, artists who it's not so much about the lyricism as it is about the feel. So she kind of takes that vibe to the nth degree and basically has this song that she laid down rough vocals for and she never went back and articulated and cleaned them up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUMBO JUMBO")

WHACK: (Vocalizing).

CARMICHAEL: It sounds so good, and her energy on stage was so incredible. I mean, she totally blew me away. So what about you, Felix?

CONTRERAS: I heard this band called La Cuneta Son Machin. They are from Nicaragua. They do a combination of Nicaraguan folk music mixed with jazz, mixed with ska, mixed with a bit of rock.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUCERO LA PATEPERRO")

LA CUNETA SON MACHIN: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: And they have a marimba in the band, like a xylophone or a vibraphone but made of wood, that's traditional in a lot of Latin American folk music. They had an electronic one that they carry around with them, you know, wherever they toured. And so it made for really folkloric sound but that energy level, they just took it - they blew the roof off the place.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUCERO LA PATEPERRO")

LA CUNETA SON MACHIN: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: OK, so give me another artist. Who'd you see?

CARMICHAEL: So this is my walk by surprise. Last night, I get a text from a friend going on midnight. She's like, you've got to come by and check out this showcase. I go to the venue and lo and behold, I see the best performance that I've seen the entire week of South by Southwest.

CONTRERAS: Really?

CARMICHAEL: Sudan Archives.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME MEH WAY")

SUDAN ARCHIVES: (Singing) I can't beat you, no. I can't beat you, but I can be true though.

CARMICHAEL: She's up on the stage, this tall, thin, regal-looking black woman with an afro that adds another five feet to her stature, right?

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

CARMICHAEL: And she's up there with the violin, half of her strings are broken already. So you know she's already been killing it. It's just a mix of soul and funk and, you know, a little classical thrown in.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME MEH WAY")

SUDAN ARCHIVES: (Singing) And I can't escape. I get blown away when you come my way, when you come my way.

CARMICHAEL: She's kind of had this buzz going on, you know. And while I love the recorded music, you know how there's some artists...

CONTRERAS: Yeah.

CARMICHAEL: ...Until you see them live...

CONTRERAS: Right.

CARMICHAEL: ...You can't really appreciate what they're doing.

CONTRERAS: That's the magic of a festival like this...

CARMICHAEL: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: ...Where you can see the performance behind the hype or behind the idea.

CARMICHAEL: Yeah. She was great. She was great.

CONTRERAS: Well, welcome to the scene.

CARMICHAEL: Thank you, man.

CONTRERAS: Yeah. I'm glad you had a good time.

CARMICHAEL: Yeah, you too.

CONTRERAS: OK, let's get to this food, man, before it gets too cold.

CARMICHAEL: Let's do it. Let's do it, man.

CONTRERAS: All right, here we go. Pass me those tortillas real quick.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME MEH WAY")

SUDAN ARCHIVES: (Singing) And I can't escape. I get blown away when you come my way, when you come my way.

KELLY: And I'm officially hungry. That was Felix Contreras, host of NPR's Alt.Latino and a South by Southwest veteran. Also, Rodney Carmichael, a first-timer who covers hip-hop for NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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