In many ways Rick Ross' headline set at the Fader Fort presented by Converse exemplified the brand saturated sponsor-driven aspect of South by Southwest that's making a lot of musical purists nuts. Before Ross took the stage to a capacity crowd (with hundreds of fans still craning to get in) members of his entourage carried in massive cardboard cut outs. Two were gigantic bottles of Rozay-endorsed alcohol, Ciroq and Luc Belaire rosé. The other two were massive recreations of Ross himself holding his new album Mastermind, currently the top album in the country.
Absolutely no one in the heavily branded party cared a bit. When the Miami rapper took the stage the crowd went absolutely insane. Backed by a live band with a strobe-intensive light show Ross threw down a string of his biggest hits like "Blowing Money Fast" and "Sanctified" with the audience doing heavy lifting on verses and choruses and generally losing their minds. He also mixed in tracks from his new album, toasted fallen rappers and kept the energy in the room at serious level of hype times ten.
It was a climatic set of Southern rap that was preceded by surprise appearances from Texas heroes Bun B and Erykah Badu.
Bun treated the audience to UGK hits like "International Playas Club" and did a rendition of the Jay-Z hit "Big Pimpin'" with the crowd filling in on Pimp C's verse.
Badu rocked a 20 inch afro and a gold grill and led the audience in a brief chorus of "Deep in the Heart of Texas". Then she did abstract versions of hits from her debut release "Baduism" with a band of Dallas all-stars. Both made heartfelt shoutouts to the audience talking seriously about the love they have for their fans.
All in all it was a great closure to another highly successful week for one of the top SXSW week side parties for 13 years running.