The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Knockout: Jay Z & Kanye West

By Chase Hoffberger, March 10, 2014, 5:00pm, Earache!

50 Cent’s status as preeminent rapper at South by Southwest effectively ended when it was announced that Watch the Throne duo Jay Z and Kanye West seize the Austin Music Hall Wednesday.

Nine months after the release of sixth solo album Yeezus, West arrives at SXSW as the artist that practically invented the big name drop-in. It was Saturday night of 2009 he posted unannounced at a Levi’s/Fader Fort gig promoting his G.O.O.D. Music label, then bounced westward to crash Perez Hilton’s One Night in Austin hullabaloo.

He returned with Jay in 2011 to play the Seaholm Power Plant alongside Mos Def, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Pusha T, and more in what turned out to be something of an RSVP disaster. A year later, he popped into a 2 Chainz show at the Belmont sans warning to perform “Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay” with Big Sean.

Jay Z’s hit up the conference as a solo act as well. His American Express-sponsored 2012 performance at ACL Live at the Moody Theater to close out SXSW Interactive stands as a watershed moment in the conference’s acquiescence of corporate backing for individual performances. Indeed, it’s fast becoming practice for tech companies to bring in big money music acts during the Interactive component. The show also cemented a willingness to practice alternative ticketing methods to the standard badges first, wristbands second, general admission third template.

That night’s audience was told to tweet song requests alongside a hashtag of #JayZSyncShow, but gaining entry to the spectacle wasn’t so easy by any means. Only those who synched an American Express card to their Twitter account stood a chance of getting in.

Recent years have made clear that all big names go into play as the giant music festival approaches, which includes today’s news of Lil Wayne’s SXSW Interview on Friday with Elliot Wilson. Given Lady Gaga’s Doritos gig and subsequent keynoting already announced and ‘Ye and Hov throwing themselves into the ring, what other legitimate showstoppers are left? Stay tuned.

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