Can't-Miss Austin Bands at SXSW

Harry Edohoukwa

Nigerian rapper’s gonna break

Can't-Miss Austin Bands at SXSW
by John Anderson

Harry Edohoukwa has a serious first-date question: "Are you a lyric person or a beats person?" For the 25-year-old rapper and singer, whether your brain gravitates toward pulse or prose says a lot about who you are.

"My girlfriend's a 'beats person,'" the Dallas native concedes. "But the first time I hear a song, I don't even hear the beat. I listen to what they're saying and how they're saying it."

Raised on Jamaican smooth stylist Beres Hammond and Afro-reggae messenger Lucky Dube, he later turned to Kanye, Kudi, and Frank Ocean, all bold lyricists.

Raised on Jamaican smooth stylist Beres Hammond and Afro-reggae messenger Lucky Dube – who, he notes, "used music as a tool, even if to say a simple thing like 'I love you'" – Edohoukwa later turned to Kanye, Kudi, and Frank Ocean, all bold lyricists. Those disparate influences inform the Austinite's singles: tuneful, ultra-modern deliveries that prove effective whether he's hyped or brooding. The island-accented "Mrs Mrs" details messing up a relationship, while new stream "Mad Max" focuses on "being okay with being crazy."

To the chagrin of his academic-minded Nigerian parents, Edohoukwa ditched pre-law and a track scholarship at Texas A&M University-Commerce to study business at Texas State, on the premise it'd help him navigate the music industry. Watching him perform today – expressive, swaggering, oozing star power – it's hard to imagine bookers weren't always blowing up the rapper's inbox.

"I just wanted a stage," confesses the MC, who routinely rented out venues over the last five years to promote his own performances, which find him linked to bassist/musical director Claudio Ramirez. Finally, he's getting looks, including opening slots for Duckworth and marquee placement on shows promoted by KUTX's hip-hop tastemakers The Breaks.

Making a name for himself is particularly meaningful for a kid who grew up sharing a forename with a popular boy wizard, and with a surname that's often mangled. (It's pronounced "Eed-oh-kwa.")

"People have been asking me how to say it all my life," he admits. "It's alright. Soon everyone will know how to say it."


Harry Edohoukwa

SXSW showcases: Wed. 13, Sheraton Backyard, TBA; Sat. 16, Barracuda, TBA

Got opinions about bands, clubs, performers, and everything else good in Austin? Let your voice be heard in our annual Best of Austin ballot. Voting is open now!

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Local songwriter rises through the fire

Doug Freeman, March 29, 2019

Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the <i>Chronicle</i> in New Video
Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the Chronicle in New Video
“They had it everywhere. My momma was loving it.”

Kevin Curtin, March 26, 2019

More by Kevin Curtin
Q&A Hole: Austin Musicians vs. the Grim Reaper
Q&A Hole: Austin Musicians vs. the Grim Reaper
What game would you choose to challenge death?

Aug. 21, 2019

Cable Access Hero “DaveTV” Exits ATX
Cable Access Hero “DaveTV” Exits ATX
Prewitt brought the club to your couch for three decades

Aug. 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Harry Edohoukwa, SXSW Music 2019, Beres Hammond, Lucky Dube, Claudio Ramirez, Duckworth, KUTX, The Breaks

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Time to vote! Best of Austin 2019 balloting is underway   VOTE NOW