"A friend of mine was in Jamaica," starts a confident David Banner, "and he said the only thing people in Jamaica knew about Mississippi was Mississippi Burning and David Banner."
Banner is to Mississippi rap what Pete Maravich is to the no-look pass, the Jackson native repping his state for the past decade.
"I think I breathe Mississippi now," Banner boasts. "When people see me, they know what I stand for. Whether I'm drinking, out partying, in church, in front of Congress, people know where I come from."
The Magnolia State is rich with musical history, but one chapter often looked over is hip-hop. Sandwiched between Atlanta, New Orleans, and Houston, Mississippi hip-hop now sits squarely on Banner's shoulders. Coming up in the no man's land of these various regional styles resulted in a brand-new animal.
"We're a synthesis of everything that's been thrown at us, good and bad," he says.
Banner has a high-top in both Atlanta and Houston movements, working closely with T.I., Killer Mike, Devin the Dude, and UGK. He went to school in Baton Rouge, La.
"All my songs are underlined by bounce music," Banner says, referencing New Orleans beats.
After 10 years of carrying Mississippi, though, he's ready to pass the torch to the next generation. "I threw it up for Mississippi enough for people to know what comes outta here," he says. "It's up to the people who come after me to hold Mississippi down."
That's not to say Banner's done making Mississippi music. In fact, he recently made some hard decisions about The Greatest Story Ever Told, the album he planned to release this spring.
"My record sounded like everyone else's record," admits Banner, "so I scrapped it and started over the next day. I've got a song called 'The River,' and it's an old Negro spiritual. It sounds like slave music, but up to date. Nothing's been done like this before in the whole world of rap." – Chase Hoffberger
Ice Cube, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, Strong Arm Steady, Pete Rock, Lyrics Born
1pm-9pm, Auditorium Shores Hip-hop takes center stage to bless Lady Bird Lake, capped by a rare performance from gangsta-rap pioneer Ice Cube. Twenty years after N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton, Cube's back to the basics, spitting politically charged lyrics over a brooding stripped-down beat on "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It," lead single from the forthcoming Raw Footage (Lench Mob). Bay Area scene staple Lyrics Born brings his progressive funk and sing-song rap, Everywhere at Once due out in April on Quannum. Meanwhile, Jay-Z flowed it best when he rapped, "If skills sold, then truth be told, I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli." Kweli's latest, Eardrum (Blacksmith/Warner Bros.), is uneven but shows why he's considered the game's best lyricist. Kweli will be joined by former SXSW leading lady Jean Grae, Strong Arm Steady (L.A. vet MCs Phil da Agony, Mitchy Slick, and Krondon) and DJ Pete Rock. Heavy. – Thomas Fawcett
7:30pm, Central Presbyterian Church Even with recent touring and an appearance at SXSW 07, Jandek remains one of music's most enigmatic figures: tall, lean, pale, a specter conjured from his discordant, droning textures and open-tuned blues fragments. In 2008 the reclusive Houstonian has thus far only produced one album, The Myth of Blue Icicles, Jandek's 52nd release through his Corwood Industries. – Doug Freeman
Hot 93/'Ozone Magazine'/AustinSurreal
8pm, Fuze Celebrating all walks of hip-hop, this Saturday night session serves as a good sampling of what the Lone Star State's lyricists have to offer. Dallas' Lumba is a "flashy" rapper who's worked with Chamillionaire; also reppin' the big D is Kottonmouth Jesse and Mr. Pookie & Mr. Lucci & the Stoney Family; Papa Chuk provides Houston drawl at a mind-alteringly slow pace but manages to bring just enough hyphy to remind you he was born in Oakland, Calif., and fellow Houston brethren K-Rino, the 144 Elite, Point Blank, and KlondikeKat follow suit. Corpus Christi's Mr. Mike drops back onto the scene after a three-year hiatus, and Austin's MC Fatal and Basswood Lane put the 512 down. – Chase Hoffberger
8pm, Parish After two albums for Lost Highway that brought her critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination, Raleigh, N.C.'s Tift Merritt took a hiatus in Paris. While there, she composed the songs that ended up being Another Country (Fantasy). Produced by George Drakoulias, it expands her always poetic songwriting by moving away from the country-rock she's known for and into more genre-busting directions. – Jim Caligiuri
Ian McLagan & the Bump Band
8pm, Antone's McLagan emerged from the UK skiffle scene as a member of the Faces, backed the Stones and Dylan, and made history at last year's Austin Music Awards when old friend and Who guitarist Pete Townshend joined his Bump Band onstage. With bandmates Jud Newcomb, Don Harvey, and Mark Andes, Mac puts the class back in classic rock with his new disc, Never Say Never (Maniac). – Dan Oko
8pm, St. David's Church Jacob Golden doesn't look back in anger but rather with poignant self-awareness on sophomore album Revenge Songs (Echo), an intimate collection of acoustic memoirs that sound like they were birthed near Elliott Smith's Basement on the Hill. On the album, available stateside exclusively through Barnes & Noble, the California-bred, Portland-based songwriter displays a sentimental streak that summons Simon & Garfunkel with an ethereal falsetto. – Austin Powell
8pm, Bourbon Rocks Patio The Tel Aviv, Israel, trio has set fire (sometimes literally) to several venues, but these dudes, especially lead howler Ami Shalev, just don't know the meaning of first gear. Their Thin Lizzyish debut EP, Body Language, drops on Drag City next month, following behind their black, bluesy, and unhinged live shows. – Audra Schroeder
8pm, Maggie Mae's Rooftop Now at home with Barsuk Records, which released his post-Headphones EP, Fewer Moving Parts, Seattle-based former Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan is readying a full-length debut with his new band, David Bazan's Black Cloud. Reportedly more a solo effort, its mope-rocker creator will have friends in tow to debut the new songs. – Melanie Haupt
8:15pm, Prague Too Short once rapped: "I made nine albums in nine years. I'm a true-blue West Coast pioneer." Flip down South with West Coast, and you have Austin rap veteran Tee Double, holding down the ATX since hustling $1 mixtapes on the drag 15 years ago. He's released 11 albums, including 2007's The Return of the Artform (Kinetic). – Thomas Fawcett
Paper Route Recordz8:30pm, Austin Music Hall Paper Route Recordz snaps bubblegum rap with a Huntsville, Ala., click. Pittsburgh's Wiz Khalifa has worked with Nas, Weezy, and Clipse and in 2007 put out the Grow Season mixtape with DJ Green Lantern. A consistent collaborator with Slug, Murs just dropped his most recent LP, Murs for President. Wale, a D.C. rapper holding down the Mid-Atlantic while working with Mark Ronson and impressing crowds with his skillful accessibility, hits the stage before Houston's Rob G, a bilingual rapper out "to be the next Latin legend." The showcase wraps up with Mississippi's top dog, David Banner. – Chase Hoffberger
8:45pm, Room 710 Houston-bred psychedelic ranger Greg Ashley is one of modern music's foremost mind-benders. His work with the Gris Gris channeled the mind-melting energy of the 13th Floor Elevators and the Red Krayola, while his 2007 solo LP, Painted Garden (Birdman), delivers delightfully warped iconoclasm in the vein of Syd Barrett and Skip Spence. – Greg Beets
9pm, Emo's Jr. Moving to Berlin, even temporarily, makes artists a bit more menacing. Such was the case for Norwegian singer-songwriter Hanne Hukkelberg, who relocated to the German capital for six months to record her sophomore album, 2007's Rykestrasse 68 (Nettwerk). Her endearing, idiosyncratic pop songs are still rich with avant-jazz orchestration, landing halfway between Joanna Newsom and Björk, but now there's an underlying darkness. – Austin Powell
9pm, St. David's Church Matt Ward's gravely croon and distinct guitar picking have become a veritable brand, crossing him over from indie-folk darling to Norah Jones supporting act. Though still hawking 2006's excellent Post-War (Merge), Ward has lent his nostalgic ear to producing and collaborating with Zooey Deschanel for their debut as the grammatically questionable She & Him with Volume I (Merge), surprisingly suave in its retro flow. – Doug Freeman
9pm, Continental Club Chicago R&B institution Andre Williams has lived both the highs and the lows. In 2007, the author of "Bacon Fat" and "Twine Time" was evicted, jailed, and hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. Then he rebounded for an album with the New Orleans Hellhounds, due this spring on Bloodshot. His remarkable life in music is the subject of SXSW Film doc Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year With Andre Williams. – Greg Beets
Christina Carter & Shawn David McMillen
9pm, Central Presbyterian Church The pairing of Charalambides guitarist and former Houstonite Christina Carter with local experimental multitasker Shawn David McMillen should produce one hell of a concoction. Carter's last solo album, 2006's Electrice, was droned, unadorned folk; McMillen's 2006 Catfish LP was primal incantation. Mix, pour, repeat. – Audra Schroeder
9:30pm, Latitude 30 A practicing Muslim, London-based Riz made headlines when his "The Post 9/11 Blues" was banned on British radio stations for its humorous tone. He responded with the sobering "Sour Times," an a cappella slam of a Pakistani's existence in the Western world. His Confirm/Ignore EP (Battered Records) drops in May. – Chase Hoffberger
9:45pm, Club de Ville Ohmega Watts walks a delicate balance, celebrating golden era hip-hop while busting beyond its graffiti-painted walls. The Brooklyn-born, Portland-based MC and producer is responsible for two of the most underrated hip-hop albums of the last several years, including 2007's Watts Happening (Ubiquity). He calls himself a Christian rapper, but his jazzy head-nodders are filled with more references to old-school rap pioneers than the Old Testament. – Thomas Fawcett
Jon Dee Graham
10pm, Continental Club For between $5 and $10, locals could walk up to the Continental Club on almost any Wednesday night for the better part of the last decade and see Jon Dee Graham. An Austin fixture since he was a teen Skunk and later True Believer, Graham's gotten better with age, 2006's Full (Freedom) his strongest combination yet of gravel voice and gritty turns of phrase. – Michael Bertin
10pm, St. David's Church Jim James may be better known as the frontman for Louisville, Ky.'s My Morning Jacket, and as the band preps for the June release of its fifth studio album, Evil Urges (ATO), James is doing his best Jon Langford impression, booked with both MMJ and solo for the Fest. And talk about alternate venues. – Michael Bertin
10pm, Red 7 Combining hardcore punk precision, heavy metal swagger, and a love of potent potables, Krum Bums delivered a brutal knockout punch with 2007's As the Tide Turns (TKO). The road-tested Austin quintet leaves welts of distinction with ear-splitting, high-energy performances and a steadfast refusal to succumb to misguided genre purity dogmas. They return to the road this summer behind the forthcoming vinyl/online-only EP, S.O.S. – Greg Beets
10:15pm, Elephant Room This straight-up saxophonist and native son has been at the forefront of the Austin jazz scene for half his young life, fronting and recording several of the finest local combos of the past two decades, not to mention touring with Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band and Wynton Marsalis. His latest self-release, Dream Story, leaves no doubts as to his mature, hard-blowing talents. – Jay Trachtenberg
The Belleville Outfit
10:15pm, Jovita's One of Austin's most exciting new ensembles, the recently transplanted sextet blends jazz, swing, and newgrass into a tantalizing romp. Their new, self-released debut, Wanderin', features mad ensemble play, the precocious songwriting skills of singer/guitarist Rob Teter, and the dazzling talents of fiddler/vocalist Phoebe Hunt. – Jim Caligiuri
Bavu Blakes & the Extra Plairs
10:30pm, Victorian Room @ the Driskill In case you doubted Austin rap veteran Bavu Blakes had flow for days, he's giving you 52 of them, posting a song a week to his website in 2008. One of the hardest-working cats in the Austin industry, Mr. Blakes is a music critic, VJ, and remains involved in countless projects like World Trade, a collaboration with up-and-coming Austin lyricist Element7D. – Thomas Fawcett
10:45pm, Club de Ville Nino Moschella does soul music right, giving a nod to the old-school but owning his unique style, which owes as much to Beck as Sly Stone. The opening track of 2006's The Fix (Ubiquity) asks "Are You for Real?" Moschella's oddball falsetto, 1980s electro drums, and kooky sound effects (including a subtle shake of the aerosol can for graf writers) point to an emphatic yes. – Thomas Fawcett
11pm, Flamingo Cantina Dokkebi Q comes on like the sublime love child of dubmaster Lee "Scratch" Perry and Cibo Matto, dropping mad psych bombs of ambient electro. Vocalist Kiki Hitomi and composing partner Gorgonn claim London, Korea, and Japan as home bases, and rumors suggest a full-length release on London's dub-step outfit 3qreq Records. – Dan Oko
Thee Oh Sees
11pm, Lamberts Ex-Coachwhips guitarist/vocalist John Dwyer leads this reverb-happy San Francisco quartet through an alluringly acidic rockabilly meltdown on the forthcoming The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In (Tomlab). Frug-worthy contagions like "Ghost in the Trees" pit late-night, thwack-back buzz against a dirt track go-go beat and vocals that sound like they're coming out of a police loudspeaker. Highly corrosive garage garble with an irresistible transistor pop undertow. – Greg Beets
11pm, Emo's Jr. In a highly theoretical and cinematic rendering of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide, Oslo, Norway's Shining is perhaps the only band that can challenge the Mars Volta for the role of Disaster Area, the loudest rock band in the galaxy. On 2007's Grindstone (Rune Grammofon), the quartet smelts spastic prog-rock and volcanic jazz fusion into an interstellar, symphonic odyssey. Destination still unknown. – Austin Powell
The Soundtrack of Our Lives
12mid, Esther's Follies For a dozen years, this sextet from Gothenburg, Sweden, has offered a crash course in the continued hegemony of monsters of rock in Scandinavia. TSOOL released A Present From the Past (Warner Sweden) in 2005 and finally follow it up later this year. No stranger to SXSW, they kill live. – Dan Oko
12mid, Scoot Inn Bottled aggression makes for great music; just ask the Jesus Lizard. In fact, Philadelphia trio Clockcleaner has birthed much of its sound from that rough pocket of 1990s noise rock, with vocalist/guitarist John Sharkey shooting his best Yow all over Load debut Babylon Rules. Nothing bests its stuttering "Vomiting Mirrors," and live you might actually get some on you. – Audra Schroeder
12mid, Flamingo Cantina What would Jamaican dub master King Tubby sound like if he were reincarnated as a live band? Something like local instrumental dub roots reggae quartet Grimy Styles. The crew's been spearheading a small but enthusiastic reggae scene since 2001, and their 2007 release, Rewind (Rude Element), moves beyond the confines of the island, incorporating sounds from around the globe. – Thomas Fawcett
Luke Doucet & the White Falcon
12mid, Velveeta Room Doucet played the sensitive, weary singer-songwriter on his last album, hired guitar slinger for Sarah McLachlan, and leader of jagged neo-psych band Veal. His new release, Blood's Too Rich (Six Shooter), features his band the White Falcon and has a tough sound that reflects his fascination with the American South and highlights Doucet's sometimes overlooked but stellar guitar work. – Jay Trachtenberg
Brothers & Sisters
12mid, Continental Club Pitching the sibling harmonies of Will and Lily Courtney into a collective folk-pop whirlwind, Austin's Brothers & Sisters splice California jangle with Texas roots. Though their eponymous 2006 debut lilted with a comfortable front-porch breeziness, this spring's upcoming sophomore LP fans blazing psych-country flames with blistering guitars and the cosmic steel of Lomita's Ray Jackson. – Doug Freeman
12:10am, Tap Room @ Six Make no mistake, Wooden Shjips set its controls for the heart of the sun. Following a few vinyl-only offerings, the San Francisco-based quartet's eponymous debut LP for Holy Mountain last year embodied the three Ds of psychedelic rock: delay, distortion, and drone. – Austin Powell
12:10am, Habana Calle 6 Patio With Brazos' 2007 debut EP, A City Just as Tall (Autobus), Austin's Martin Crane delivered tight indie rock swirling darkly against his blue-eyed soul vocals, bluesy psych-pop bursts cut with a desperate edge and sultry leer. Now cemented as a stable quintet with a triple guitar assault, Brazos is preparing an LP. – Doug Freeman
12:15am, Club de Ville Members of Brownout have been longtime Austin favorites, performing Latin dance tunes as Grupo Fantasma, but this eightpiece Latin funk ensemble sets the stage on fire as Brownout. Their 2007 debut, Homenaje (Freestyle), is a tight homage to Fania Records, 1970s funk, and Latin psychedelia. The group made a fan of Prince, who has invited Brownout to A-list parties with him. – Thomas Fawcett
Lower Class Brats
12:30am, Red 7 Patio Emerging from Austin's fertile mid-1990s punk renaissance, the droog-garbed Lower Class Brats sharpen the sound and fury of Brit-punk legends like Sham 69 for a new generation. The quartet's 2007 CD/DVD, Loud and Out of Tune (TKO), captured the chaos of their live shows with broadsides like "I'm a Mess" and "Addicted to Oi!" – Greg Beets
12:30am, Emo's Main Deftly straddling the line between punk rock dystopia and proto-Americana, X remains one of the all-time great American bands. The quartet's four Ray Manzarek-produced albums constitute an unholy grail of 1980s L.A. noir. With ace guitarist Billy Zoom back in tow, 2005's Live in Los Angeles (Shout! Factory) demonstrated uncompromising ferocity as they plowed through underground touchstones like "We're Desperate" and "Johny Hit and Run Paulene." – Greg Beets
The Strange Boys
1am, Blind Pig Rooftop Austin's Strange Boys, a barely legal and yet veteran combo of Texas garagers, love to uncrate obscure blues vinyl, while also demonstrating a predisposition for American Bandstand. Ryan Sambol's compressed vox leads the fourpiece through a dark tunnel of love on 2007 7-inch Nothing and an upcoming LP. – Darcie Stevens
1am, Vice Toronto's electro remixers extraordinaire feature former members of Death From Above 1979 and Girlsareshort (Jesse Keeler and Al-P) as their twisted do-overs/do-betters for everything from the Kills to Bloc Party, Kylie Minogue to Justice have made dance floors aggressively fillable. Single "VUVUVU" is already a genre classic, and their new, untitled project promises enough groove to require stitches. – Marc Savlov
Black Moth Super Rainbow
1am, Thirsty Nickel "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream." Whether attributed to William O'Shaughnessy or Willy Wonka, the quote paints BMSR's low tech, hi-fi surrealism. Last year's Dandelion Gum (Graveface) swirled Boards of Canada with the vocoded voice of reluctant frontman Tom Fec, aka Tobacco, and his four pseudonymous bandmates. SXSW 07 burst for the Pittsburghers' showcase with Austin cohorts the Octopus Project. – Darcie Stevens
Alex Skolnick Trio
1am, Ale House Former-heavy-metal-head-turned-jazz-guitarist Skolnick has built a reputation by transforming anthems by the likes of the Scorpions, Kiss, and Black Sabbath into vehicles for his jazz trio. 2002 debut, Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, was a revelation. New release Last Day in Paradise covers Testament and Rush but features mostly originals. – Jay Trachtenberg
1am, Emo's Annex 2007's We All Belong, their fifth LP, is the best work yet from band members Taxi, Tables, Text, Trouble, and Thanks. Showing an undeniable affinity for Brian Wilson, Philly's Dr. Dog bridges the gap between 1960s California rock and all things Shins, holding tight to those diminished chords. – Chase Hoffberger
Tokyo Police Club
1am, Dirty Dog Bar While this Ontario quartet has only been together for about three years, it has managed to turn heads with its big, fuzzy, sloppy sound, the equivalent of a Saint Bernard's slobbery kiss. Recently signed to Saddle Creek, the group's road-testing new songs from its upcoming first LP, Elephant Shell. – Melanie Haupt
Was (Not Was)
1am, La Zona Rosa Long ago and far away, Detroit found its answer to Zappa in Don and David Was' fourpiece multiracial dance band. Since then, Don has emerged as a top L.A. producer, working with Dylan, the Stones, and Lone Star outlaw Kris Kristofferson. Twenty-five years later, it is what it is. April brings Boo! (Rykodisc), bubbling with acerbic, funkadelic beats. – Dan Oko
Gary Clark Jr.
1am, Continental Club Earlier this year, Austin's Gary Clark Jr. gained nationwide recognition for his starring role in the John Sayles film Honeydripper. Although labeled a bluesman, Clark is a multifaceted musician, and his live performances are a charmed blend of blues, reggae, and soul. He's currently in the studio working on his fourth disc. – Jim Caligiuri
1:10am, Prague Over the last decade this Kentucky-based trio of cunning linguists has evolved into one of underground hip-hop's best outfits. Rugged-voiced rappers Deacon the Villain and Natti tell stories over the brooding production of Kno, who mines more psychedelic rock than soul samples for his intricate soundscapes. 2007's Dirty Acres (APOS) is occasionally sunny, but more often recalls the darker corners of early Goodie Mob and OutKast. – Thomas Fawcett