Considering the star power that had already passed through Austin, Texas beginning with Jay-Z’s Monday night performance, it was only fitting that Rick Ross would make a surprise appearance at South by Southwest to wrap up the week’s festivities.
The FADER FORT presented by Converse was packed to the brim all week, hosting acts like Kendrick Lamar, The-Dream and 2 Chainz, but the “TBD” spot for their closing set on Saturday night was the subject of much speculation. Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent and Eminem had all shown up earlier in the week, so it was reasonable to assume that hip-hop’s reigning titan would also get in on the action.
Memphis Tennessee rapper, Gangsta Boo, opened up Fader’s last set of the festival performing old hits, new singles and her verse on the Eminem-featured Yelawolf single “Throw It Up” before passing the mic off to Maybach Music Group rapper Stalley. The Ohio native dipped into his mixtape Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music) then performed the Chad Hugo-produced single “Everything New,” from his upcoming project Savage Journey to the American Dream before exiting.
Stalley had only left the stage for a few minutes when Ross showed up, launching right into bangers like “I’m Not A Star,” after being introduced to the crowd as “the Hottest MC in the Game.”
At this point, the Miami rapper has no shortage of hits and the crowd received every new track, including “Hustlin'” and his verse on “I’m On One,” with enthusiasm. Solange Knowles hung in the VIP area dancing and singing-a-long to songs like “Aston Martin Music,” which Ross so kindly dedicated to all of the women in the house.
Ross summoned Stalley back to the stage to perform his Rich Forever cut “Party Heart,” but perhaps the most triumphant moment of the set came during the introduction to the mixtape’s title track. “My success was not overnight,” he told the crowd. “MMG started as a dream, MMG started in a basement. It took me over a decade to get where I’m standing now.” For music lovers in the crowd who weren’t Ross aficionados, the Bawse did his best to translate the overarching message in his music.
“I want ya’ll to know that dreams come true,” he told the crowd before closing set. “Every boss in the game started as a m—–f—–’ worker, so build it from the ground up, do it self made, and be rich forever.”