Arguably the one album that everybody began to and does know The Roots for, Things Fall Apart was released 15 years ago last month. An album that was very much apart of the shifting dynamic in terms of diversity in Hip Hop in 1999, this album got Black Thought, Questlove and the gang a big time Grammy nomination, but more importantly, represented the growing diversity in Hip Hop at the start of a new millennium. It’s an album that, at the time, combined many of the different elements of black music that at the time made it so interesting and so entrancing: gritty, underground Hip Hop, “Neo Soul” instrumentation, an old school, live band feel, and just a touch of mainstream sensibilities to get it noticed by folks outside of Hip Hop circles. No other artist or group at the time could have pulled of a myriad of songs like “You Got Me”, “Double Trouble”, “Love Of My Life”, “The Next Movement” and “Without A Doubt” so effortlessly, and all on the same album. Sure, the Philly boys has already released several masterpieces by this point in their career, namely Do You Want More?!!!??! and Illadeph Halflife. But Things Fall Apart was just that moment, that occurrence, that one shining light in such an amazing and diverse musical career that just about all of us can point to and say, “Yup, that’s where they really hit their stride.” Between Mos Def imitating the scat-like improvisations of “Planet Rock” on “Double Trouble” to the incomparable Ursala Rucker with her dark and haunting poetry on “The Return To Innocence Lost” to three of the most amazing women in Hip Hop and R&B (read: Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Eve) contributing to the lead single “You Got Me”, Things Fall Apart made everything come together for The Roots.
The music festival season is upon us once again, and this year, concertgoers the world over will be treated to some of the best tunes they’ve ever heard at festivals such as Banaroo, Coachella, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and North Coast. But the most well-known and well-respected festival out of all of these and more has to Austin, TX’s SXSW, which officially kicks off on March 9. And of course SXSW is most known for its music, with artists from across genre boundaries once again performing this year, from emcees A$AP Rocky and Ace Hood to DJs like Diplo and Questlove. So attendees will definitely hear some of their most favorite tunes, and probably discover some of their new favorites along the way
But SXSW started going way beyond just being a music festival long ago, and with the new ways people are sharing and consuming music and media that are continuing to change day by day at such a rapid pace, the festival has taken on a whole new meaning, with lots of innovation and education on the horizon once again this year. SXSW now encompasses film, technology, talks and panel discussions, small business/start-up information, trade shows, award ceremonies, and even the re-introduction of the SXSW Mobile Go App available for attendees.
Take the SXSW Interactive Startup Village to begin with. Located primarily on the fourth floor of the Downtown Austin Hilton, the 2012 SXSW Interactive Startup Village will showcase various startup events at SXSW Interactive, including SXSW Accelerator, as well as startup-related panel discussions, Meet Ups, lounges, pitch events and even mentoring sessions. And the opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet and network with investors, media reps and digital creatives will be increased at this years’ festival. The Startup Village runs from March 9-14.
Another great addition to SXSW is the second annual SXSWedu initiative, which celebrates innovations in learning and education in Austin, TX. Beginning on March 6 in the Downtown Hilton in Austin, the conference will seek to bring together teachers, administrators, university professors, business, industry and policy leaders who all share a keen interest in modernizing teaching and learning. Be sure to go to sxswedu.com for more information on the great new initiatives taking place this year.
And beyond all of this, SXSW is taking things even further with the SXSW Trade Show, a Music Gear Expo, the new ScreenBurn Arcade Stage featuring a Marvel Comics House of Ideas panel discussion, the newly christened SX Social registrant tool that lets festival goers allows search for and message other SXSW attendees, update contact information, and book hotels, and even an online interactive magazine that can be accessed right here!
It’s now clear that SXSW is vying for a spot as not only the premiere American music festival, but also as a perennial, all-around music, media, entertainment and educational outlet/organization. SXSW 2012 should truly be a treat for not only music heads, but people across boundaries that obsess over advances in new media and want to discover new ways to entertain themselves. Here’s hoping that all 2012 SXSW attendees have a blast and learn something in the process! Be sure to visit the official SXSW website for more news and information on this ever-growing festival powerhouse.