Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Martei Korley
LargeUp brought the Caribbean to Austin, Texas, once again for South by Southwest this past Thursday night. Our Austin Island showcase, sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Dept. of Tourism, featured live performances from the biggest names in Virgin Islands music, including R. City (St. Thomas), Pressure Busspipe (St. Thomas), Verse Simmonds (St. Thomas) and I Grade Dub (St. Croix).
The action-packed evening began with a screening of R. City’s What Dreams Are Made Of documentary, followed by a Q+A with R. City’s Theron and Timothy Thomas. Things moved right into the showcase as Colombia’s Freaky Colectivo, LargeUp’s own DJ Gravy, Deejay Theory and Blacka Di Danca warmed up the crowd, setting up a performance from Jamaica’s Jovi Rockwell with DJ Delano. After a dancehall dance lesson from Blacka, I Grade Dub got the club irie with his deep roots selections, and a cameo appearance from collaborator Jahdan Blakkamoore, direct from Houston via Guyana.
Pressure Busspipe, backed by I Grade Dub’s Laurent “Tippy” Alfred and Padraic Coursey, had the whole crowd singing along with the theme song — and inspiration — for the night, “Virgin Islands Nice.” The singjay from St. Thomas also brought out Cruzan rapper Prya, who performed his own local hit “Back Home In A Dream.” Verse Simmonds was up next, performing a set of R&B hits and island-flavored bangers, including a cameo appearance from up-and-coming singer, Spanish Town, coming out of Jamaica by way of Atlanta. Yet another St. Thomas product, rapper Paebak, hit the stage with DJ Gravy for a brief set, leading right into a performance from headliners, R. City. The duo brought a heavy dose of island bwoy swag, kicking off their set from the crowd and hoisting up the U.S. Virgin Islands flags, while performing tracks like “Slave to the Dollar,” new single “Make Up” and, of course, “Locked Away,” their chart-topping hit single with Adam Levine.
Every one of our performers brought it and then some, but we have to large up all of our attendees and supporters the same way. The U.S. Virgin Islands was definitely in the building, with guests who came all the way from the U.S.V.I. and Atlanta, and all across Texas, and so was our local partner, the Austin Caribbean Cultural Exchange. Other guests included Lunchmoney Lewis, iconic hip-hop producer Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy) and singer D. Woods (Danity Kane).
Check out Martei Korley’s photos from the show and look out for our event wrap video coming soon.