By Ray Rahman
March 16, 2012 at 06:00 PM EDT
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

SXSW is no stranger to hip-hop, but this year, the red Solo cup truly runneth over. Jay-Z kicked things off on Monday, and the likes of Kanye West, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg followed suit.

And when a short week is so full of topline rap stars, sacrifices have to be made. Last night, for instance, provided quite the conundrum: Lil Wayne or T.I.? Their sets threatened to overlap, so a pros and cons list was in order.

Pros: Tip had the fresh-blooded MCs Wale and B.oB. opening for him; Weezy promised to bring along worthy vets Mystikal and Busta Rhymes.

Cons: T.I. and Lil Wayne.


In the end, though, it came down to one element: surprise factor. A top-of-the-game dude like Wayne is liable to pull hot acts like Nicki Minaj or Drake or, be still my beating heart, Rick Ross out of his jeggings. And since this was just one day after missing Kanye West and Big Sean’s surprise pop-up (poor 2 Chainz, by the way!), I knew I’d never forgive myself if I missed a potential Roman Zolanski appearance.

The event — a showcase for Lil Wayne’s Young Money/Cash Money umbrella group, held at a very crowded Austin Music Hall — also doubled as the official launch party for “DEWeezy,” the rapper’s nebulous new partnership with Mountain Dew. Don’t worry, you won’t ever have to drink DEWeezy because DEWeezy’s not a liquid — I don’t think.

Actually, despite all the hype and hashtags, I still had no idea what exactly was being launched at the show. Is it a clothing line? Or perhaps DEWeezy is a way of life? Is it DONDA?

But when Wayne finally hit the stage last night, it became sort of apparent: it’s skateboarding-based community building. The screaming, shorts-clad Louweezyiana rapper ran out clutching (not riding, mind you) his own skateboard, setting the tone for the evening. Check it out in the video below:

“Life is a lot like skateboarding,” Wayne informed the audience during his performance, which featured as much music as it did Mountain Dewist ideology (not to mention Weezy pretending to drink the neon-green soda on stage).

“The first few times you try kickflipping,” he continued, “you’ll fall. But you’ll always get back up.” Or something like that.

The show itself was… fine. No, there weren’t any oh-snap cameos waiting in the wings. Wayne simply coasted through his hourlong set by playing new standards like “A Milli” and pretty much any song he’s ever done with Drake, because Weezy’s a smart guy who knows where the zeitgeist is. Also, what the attention span of our youth today is: Nearly every song was either worked into a medley or given a single one-verse shout-out.

In the hey-ladies portion of the evening, Weezy obligingly took his shirt off to deliver “She Will” and “How to Love” in his signature sultry squeak. He also offered his numbered, three-pronged outlook on life:

#1 I believe in God

#2 I ain’t s— without you

#3 And the most important thing is: I. Ain’t. S—. Without. You.

But was it better s— than the T.I. show? Sadly, we’ll never know.

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