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Rap, wrestling, no riots at the SXSW Parish showcase

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 15, 2014

A day after Odd Future chief agitator Tyler the Creator coaxed mayhem from a crowd at a Scoot Inn day party, his appearance at the Parish was cancelled. It’s not clear whether the two are related, but South by Southwest staffers seemed to be cautiously controlling the crowd for Peter Rosenberg’s Rap and Wrestling showcase at the club on Friday night.

At 9:45 pm the club seemed to be at no more than 60 percent capacity, but badge holders were only gradually allowed entry to the show hosted by the DJ from New York City’s Hot 97 hip-hop station. Inside the crowd seemed relatively sedate for the showcase that featured up and coming talent and, you know, wrestlers.

Host of the station’s weekly “Real Late” Sunday show, one of the only underground rap shows left on commercial radio, Rosenberg is one of hip-hop’s top tastemakers and his selections on this jam packed lineup reflected his ear for talent. Artists from across the country, many of whom are virtual unknowns were featured in short sets. At first the crowd seemed more into the DJ spinning through set changes than the rappers but as the night progressed artists began to pull a bigger response.

One early standout was Bishop Nehru. Despite the fact that the emcee is only 17 he’s already received cosigns from some of hip-hop’s top talents including Nas. In a 15 minute set that spotlighted his classic East Coast style Nehru proved he is already a force to be reckoned with. He ended rapping over a Dilla track that dropped out so he could close with a brutal a Capella spurring an enthusiastic cheer, particularly from the ladies.

Another early crowd favorite was not a rapper but wrestler Mike Henry. The gregarious big man took the stage to an enthusiastic cheer. While doing introductions he extolled the virtues hip-hop nerds.

“You have to be a nerd to do hip-hop,” he said blanket dissing rappers with weak vocabularies.

Real talk.