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Big Boi performs at a day party at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, March 19, 2011. © Tony Nelson

Tony Nelson, © Tony Nelson

Wanda Jackson performs at the "Rachael Ray's Feedback" party at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, March 19, 2011. © Tony Nelson

Tony Nelson, © Tony Nelson

Rappers make SXSW power-play

  • March 21, 2011 - 9:16 AM

AUSTIN, TEXAS - Once the kind of rustic, underground music fest where an appearance by the Jayhawks was big news, the South by Southwest Music Conference wrapped up with the two biggest names in hip-hop, Kanye West and Jay-Z, and the most grandiose event of the festival's 25-year history.

West and his company G.O.O.D. Music co-hosted a party with online music-video site Vevo at a mammoth abandoned Austin power plant. The event, which wound down in the wee hours of Sunday, had live dancers grinding above the crowd on old electrical structures, a full-size marching band and a roster of guest performers that included John Legend and rappers Mos Def and Pusha-T. Jay-Z showed up at the end (just before 4 a.m.) to perform his and West's new duet single "H.A.M."

Rappers and their corporate sponsors were everywhere at this year's festival. Snoop Dogg also performed on behalf of PepsiMax, and LL Cool J played a Red Bull gig. OutKast co-leader Big Boi had several shows, including an outdoor one Saturday afternoon for music streaming site MOG.

The conference also found room for a few legendary women in rock: Recent Hall of Fame inductee Wanda Jackson headlined Rachael Ray's Feedback party on Sunday, and Yoko Ono got on stage with her son, Sean Lennon, at a showcase for his Chimera Music label.

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

SEE PHOTO GALLERIES and more at startribune.com/sxsw

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