When people reminisce about the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival, there will be two things that stand out above the rest: Bruce Springsteen‘s epic keynote speech/concert, and last night’s Shady 2.0 Showcase, headlined by 50 Cent. Sadly, we weren’t able to attend the former, but we did manage to score a highly coveted ticket to the latter. Fiddy and the whole Shady Records family were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the release of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ last night, even though the record won’t officially turn 10 until February of next year. Whatever the Shady squad lacks in calendar savvy, they MORE than make up for with their ability to throw a massive party.
Austin had been buzzing all day with rumors that the head honcho of Shady Records, Eminem, would show up to support his protégé 50 Cent as he performed his landmark, six-times platinum debut LP front-to-back. The rumors proved to be true, as Eminem made an unannounced appearance at the Austin Music Hall during “Patiently Waiting,” the second song on Get Rich and the second song to be played last night. The audience had already gone bonkers when Fitty emerged from the shadows —wearing a camouflage bullet proof vest, natch— just a few minutes earlier, but when Em hit the stage ensconced in a grey hoodie, we honestly thought the roof might come off the place. As the two traded verses while the classic Eminem-produced beat pulsated through the speakers, the energy level in the building was truly something to behold.
Em graciously stepped off stage as 50 sang “Many Men,” which was then proceeded by arguably the most popular rap song of the 2000s. Of course, we’re talking about “In Da Club,” the Dr. Dre produced megasmash. The audience waved glowsticks and giant foam middle fingers in the air as 50 — who, by this point, had ditched his camo vest in favor of the shiniest diamond chain we’ve ever seen with our two eyes— commanded everyone to bounce as if it were their birthdays. The audience naturally obliged.
Other highlights of the roughly one hour, forty-five minute set included “P.I.M.P.” and “Wanksta” (which isn’t actually on Get Rich, but we’re not complaining). After 50 had put Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ to bed, Eminem re-emerged from the dressing to perform a pair of songs that the two had collaborated on over the years: “Till I Collapse” (from Em’s 2002 The Eminem Show LP) and “Crack A Bottle” (from 2009’s Relapse). As you would assume, Em’s considerable presence upped 50’s game a notch and piqued the diverse audience’s interest. Many hip hop artists have difficulty figuring out what to do with themselves while they’re on stage, but not Em: He prowls the stage like a wolf on the hunt, constantly on the move and never stopping to rest (or, for that matter, toss out cliché’s like “Put your hands in the air!”). 50, however, is a little more content to stay put and bounce, so being on stage with a man in motion like Eminem helps him concentrate on doing what he does best: Delivering some of the most iconic verses in hip hop history.
The evening wasn’t just about 50 and Em, though. Over the course of the five-plus hour showcase, we saw sets from the likes of Action Bronson, STS (who spit some lines over the beat of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”), hip hop supergroup Slaughterhouse and buzzy newcomer Big K.R.I.T. Of the bunch, K.R.I.T. seemed to connect with audiences the best, and he responded in kind by hopping out into the audience and rapping approximately three feet away from where we were standing. Take a look at the video below to see what we mean (language NSFW):