Well SXSW is over for another year, and it's hard to tell if that's a relief or accomplishment of some sort. The festival can be grueling—and it most certainly was this year—and it can be overwhelming to an insane degree, but it can be hard to argue with the amount of music and shenanigans that can be seen and had all crammed into such a short time. Yes, the brands are ubiquitous; so are the bands, and these days you can't really have one without the other at a festival like this.

It's completely impossible to see everything, even though Lord knows we tried. But there were a handful of artists who seemed like they were everywhere, popping up as a featured artist or as a surprise guest at show after show and generally emerging as the talk of the town at SXSW. XXL pulled together a rundown of the nine rappers who had the best SXSW. —Dan Rys (@danrys)



Almost as soon as I started preparing my list of showcases I'd be trying to attend, I lost count of how many of them were headlined by YG. But that makes total sense considering his debut major-label album, My Krazy Life, is dropping tomorrow (March 18) on Def Jam. He wound up holding it down and living up to the reputation as an extremely hard worker that he's built over the past few mixtapes, even bringing out the likes of Ty Dolla $ign and Snoop Dogg during his set at the Fader Fort Wednesday night. If performances like these are anything to go by—even setting aside his wildly-popular "My Hitta" and it's Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 chart success—YG is setting himself up to stroll towards the top of the charts next week.

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Teasing the release of his newest album in 2014, Future surprised the SXSW audience with new music, including a remix of Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love."


Vic Mensa

One of Chicago's hottest young guns, Vic seemed like he was everywhere at SXSW. Popping up at the Woodie Awards, then Wiz Khalifa's show at Austin Music Hall, then the Fader Fort, then the Tumblr House, then the Thrasher Mag showcase, then 12 hours later at the Illmore around 3 a.m., and...whew. His was one of the biggest buzzes of the entire week, and deservedly so. Just check out this version of "Feel That" from the Woodies, below.


(Photo: Ryan Muir)

Snoop Dogg

Wherever you least expected to find Snoop Dogg, that's where he was. Or maybe that's not the case entirely, as he was just everywhere and anywhere he wanted to be. He was the headliner at the Respect The West showcase, where he brought out Wiz Khalifa for "We Dem Boyz." Then he showed up to do a quick set during YG's performance at the Fader Fort. Then he was out at the Fort the next night for a completely unscripted run through The Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood" with headliner Damon Albarn. Uncle Snoop does it again.

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(Photo: Ryan Muir)

HBK Gang

Another crew that was ubiquitous throughout the week, whether they were billed as Sage The Gemini, an Iamsu-centric set, or just with everyone along for the ride as HBK Gang. Of course, they blew the roof off every performance with "Gas Pedal" and "Red Nose," but Su would also bust out Yo Gotti's "Act Right" on most occasions—the track, with its "I'm going going / Back back / to the Bay / Rest In Peace Mac Dre" refrain, was produced by HBK's P-Lo—and sat down in his truck for an interview with XXL after rocking the Fader Fort. Su and Sage both have albums dropped within the next two months, as well.


(Photo: Misha Vladimirskiy: GoPro)

Lil Wayne

The great return to form of Lil Wayne is upon us, people, and everywhere he popped up, it seemed, was the only place people wanted to be at that moment. The only thing he had on his actual schedule was his CRWN interview at the Convention Center on Friday, but that didn't stop him from making surprise appearances left and right, hopping on stage to do "A Milli" at the Woodies and helping to keep the YMCMB takeover at the Illmore Saturday night running until almost 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Tha Carter V has everyone talking, and Wayne knows how to turn that series of albums into near-instant classics. All we can do is wait at this point.


(Photo: MTV)

Young Thug

Thugga's name has been on everyone's lips for the last few months, and his newfound association with Cash Money, Birdman and Wayne has got people talking about another diamond on that already star-studded roster. He performed at least six, if not more, shows, and popped up at the Illmore to rock "Stoner" at 5:30 as Wayne and Baby rapped along. His performance at the Fader Fort also had a line that was only rivaled by the line outside for Rozay's show the night after.


(Photo: Ryan Muir)

Tyler, The Creator

His week wasn't perfect—it's hard for it to have been when it resulted in his getting arrested in the airport on the way out of town—but Tyler showed once again that he never lacks creativity, showing up in a number of different ways and with a number of different artists throughout the week. He had his own slew of headlining shows, but you could also find the Odd Future leader skateboarding down side streets or popping up with BadBadNotGood. Of course, there was the whole riot thing—thank God no one was injured at that one—but that's almost par for the course for Tyler at this point. The fact is, even setting that aside, his shows were among the hardest to get into all week.



It was almost like everywhere you looked on Friday, Bobby Ray was there. He showed up at Future's show at the SPIN Showcase, then returned the favor by brining out Future to do "Same Damn Time" during his set at the Mass Appeal showcase later that night. Fans that saw him later that night got to see him bust out his guitar and demonstrate those chops, as well. Hustle Gang Over Everything.


Previously: Check Out All Our Coverage Of SXSW 2014 Right Here