AUSTIN, TX – “Can we take y’all to Atlanta real quick?,” Outkast’s Big Boi asked in Austin
crowd at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival.

“Everybody put your [expletive] ‘A’s up,” he instructed those who arrived early enough to make it through the long lines outside this Porsche x Fader event. “A for Atlanta, A for Austin, we in the A tonight too, ya dig?”

One half of Outkast, Big Boi (above), performed a number of the group’s hits during SXSW 2023. Photo by Julia Beverly/The Atlanta Voice

Music, sports, film, art, and tech collide at the 10-day annual SXSW festival, which is perhaps better described as a “cultural experience” with a wildly diverse crowd. The festival has been an annual fixture in Austin, Texas since 1987 and is enjoying a post-pandemic resurgence after reluctant cancellations in 2020 and 2021.

This year, the weather deteriorated from “wow, I should move here” early in the festival to lightning and hail storms enveloping the Texas Capitol building on Day 7; the outdoor Moody Amphitheater had to be evacuated ahead of a planned Lil Yachty performance (brought to you by Doritos, of course). Speaking of corporate sponsors, Big Boi’s
Porsche collaboration was an apparent nod to his rhyming partner Andre 3000’s 2001 “The Whole World” verse (“throw the Porsche at you, is what I’m forced to do”). Big Boi, accompanied by Dungeon Family’s Sleepy Brown, announced that it was “Bring Your Grandson to Work Day” when introducing another guest appearance from toddler Younès Antwan Patton III.

Fellow ATLien and Run The Jewels rapper Killer Mike debuted his new solo LP Michael at a listening party which featured a surprise appearance from Dave Chappelle. Audience questions during Killer Mike’s SXSW conference session ranged from “Who are your top five rappers?” (“Scarface number one, add any other rappers you want to add,” he said.) to his thoughts on the current controversy over Atlanta’s “CopCity.”

“Eight years ago Atlanta had a very strong community board policing the police. They need help [and] support, so even if ‘Cop City’ gets built we need to make sure that the community board that oversaw the cops comes back stronger than ever,” he added.

Long lines outside of SXSW venues are par for the course at the popular annual music and culture celebration in Austin, Texas.
Photo by Julia Beverly/The Atlanta Voice

For Atlanta notables and beyond, SXSW continues to be an influential forum for everything from music to social activism.