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SXSW Presents: Stephen Mykal

Stephen Mykal is the artist you've likely heard before and didn't even know it. This is his second year playing SXSW, yes, but the young producer, singer and lyricist has had the fortune of doing some else just as resume building and definitive of his talent - working with Teyana Taylor.

Anyone up on pop culture and the black community knows who Teyana Taylor is. The dancer, choreographer, actress, model and singer is huge in the rap game, which is why Mykal's feature on her fitness video platform Fade 2 Fit was so important. Mykal produced the music and provided some vocals for the platform late in 2016, showing that his ear for production and his creative capacity are definitely getting the recognition they deserve.

On top of this, Mykal's soulful performances are an experience to take in. Though much of his output is heavily hip hop based, he possesses the fervor of an emotion-driven r&b singer, bringing an intimacy to him sets that isn't like many others around.

It's no wonder SX brought him back for a second year, and hopefully he'll be back for many more.





SXSW Presents: Jarv Dee

 We live in an era now where the rap game is even more about how you look and not as much about the actual quality of your rhymes. To those that consider themselves rap enthusiasts, like Jarv Dee, surely find this reality saddening. Rap and hip hop aren't currently living up to the educating, thought provoking standards its forefathers tried to set in place, and that's something Jarv is trying to change.

"People need to understand what is really going on," Jarv Dee told local alt-weekly The Stranger. "The new generation of rappers classifies the old hiphop as corny, but old hip-hop had all the knowledge. All they talk about is how fucked up they getting, but everyone's forgetting real life. They just make everything a party."

Even though Jarv does enjoy a party (and you can definitely still do so to his music), the Moor Gang founding member is trying to do a bit more with his tunes than provide an inebriated soundtrack. "All I do is teach my truths," Jarv says. "I can't tell anybody anything besides what I went through. I'm not a preachy person. I'll give game, but I don't like to force game."

Jarv's got the rhymes and the rhythms to make people listen, so whether you're tuning into him for fun or for thoughtful provocation, you'll get from it exactly what you need.





SXSW Presents: Shubzilla x Bill Beats

 The Pacific Northwest may not be known as a hub for hip-hop, but by all means its residents know that through all of rain drops there are some great artists writing some great rhymes. Some of those rhymes come spunky lyricist Shubzilla, back by some funky production of her collaborator Bill Beats.

It's been some years since Shubzilla and Bill Beats began working together, and over the course of the six years since The Campaign Mixtape came out their collective efforts have grown even more esteemed and enjoyable. Shubzilla prides herself in writing about whatever the hell she chooses to and somehow, Bill Beats always has the perfect measures to accommodate. Their performances are energetic, fun and enthralling and once they're finished, you'll leave feeling like you just partied with your friends.

Though SXSW is already one of the biggest parties of the year, consider stopping and checking Shubzilla and Bill Beats. They'll be some of the most entertaining yet.





SXSW Presents: Thunderpussy

 For the longest time, rock and roll was a genre dominated by dick. Men have used their braggadocious sense of entitlement act like big guitars and big hair to try and rule the music world, but rock was never meant to be a male dominated arena. Quite the contrary, actually. Continuing to plant their feet in unwelcomed territory like all of the great ladies before them Thunderpussy have grabbed rock by its reins, and they're not letting go anytime soon.

There are plenty of non-male acts in punk, garage and indie, but when it comes to the unapologetically barebones element of rock, there was a hole that Thunderpussy perfectly filled. They're brash in a sexy way, unfettered by whatever "roles" society tells them they need to play. Instead, they play some of the most in-your-face, raw and fierce tunes around. Combined with the power they release onstage, Thunderpussy is the kind of force that you want to overcome you.

Catch Thunderpussy on their Pour Morals Tour starting in March (which includes four SXSW dates) and lend an ear to their newly released and amazingly named record Greatest Tits below.





SXSW Presents: Naked Giants

*photo by Stephanie Severance 

In a place that doesn't see a lot of sun, anything that's recalls warm beaches, endless sunshine and running around outside is definitely appreciated. Naked Giants encompass this aesthetic in their sound, bringing the styles of a brighter region all the up to the romantically dreary Pacific Northwest. 

The trio, having popped up onto to scene not even that long ago, make fun and youthfully jaunty garage rock that no matter how old you are, make you feel like you're in your early 20s again. Naked Giants have dropped a few collections of songs over the last three years of their new but bright career, but their upcoming full-length debut Sluff shows them at their most energetic and excited yet. Exactly what "sluff" is depends on who you're talking to, but whether it stands for "South Lake Union Fuck Face" (which references the techies taking over Seattle) or the black sludge that comes off your shoes in the snow, the one thing that is for sure is spark is infectious, sluffy or not, and it'll make you want to bounce around whenever you see them.

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