I see lots of rap groups during South By Southwest, but it’s always a little more personal and special when I see the League of Extraordinary G’z. Not just because they’re Austin’s best rap group, but because I’ve been knowing them and keeping up with them ever since journalist Matt Sonzala spoke highly of them to me three or four years ago. I’ve seen them perform at South By Southwest for several years, at Conway, Arkansas and A3C in Atlanta. I’ve enjoyed their mixtapes, whether given to me or downloaded. I’ve proudly worn the T-shirts they gave me with the familiar map of Texas made out of guns (what a superb logo). I’ve felt the deep sense of loss and tragedy as they have lost not one but two members to death in the last couple of years, both from rare medical conditions. In short, the LOEG’z are not merely a rap group, but my friends and family, and I always try to catch at least one of their shows when I’m at SXSW.
The League of Extraordinary G’z is arguably Austin’s best rap group, one of the best in Texas, and honestly one of the best unsigned hip-hop groups in the United States. I was amazed and impressed with them the first time I ever heard them, which was at South By Southwest in Austin in 2009, and I am still amazed and impressed every time I witness their live performances. Their odyssey has not been without tragedy- one of their members, Esbe the 6th Street Bully died of a wrongly-diagnosed medical condition in 2011, and earlier this year, they lost their drummer Tiny to a congenital heart defect. But all the years of sorrow, struggle and hard work are starting to pay off, and on October 15, the League’s first studio album (everything heretofore has been mixtapes) will be released digitally online. You can stream the new album here or preorder it here.
After I left the hotel, I was determined to go to the Texas Rap Showcase that was being held at the Spring and 4th Center nearby, because I had missed two other performances of the League of Extraordinary G’z, and was determined not to miss another one. During the course of the evening, I was impressed by the quality of most of the performers, and the way that Texas artists seem to support and show love to each other.
When I got back to the Melia, I ran into my homeboys from Austin rap group League of Extraordinary G’z, who were gathered out in front of the hotel. They had made a huge impression at this year’s South By Southwest in Austin, and were scheduled to perform at least three times at A3C this year. And their debut album is due out digitally on October 15.
Austin’s hip-hop supergroup the League of Extraordinary G’z was one of the first groups named to the South By Southwest schedule this year, and they were certainly one of the busiest, performing nearly every day of the event at a succession of official and unofficial showcases. Their final performance was on Saturday, March 16, the final night of SXSW for 2013 at Club Deville, this time with their live drummer and a full contingent of performers. The crowds were apparently primarily from Austin, for they knew every word of the League songs.
Because the showcase at Club Deville was running behind schedule, just as the League of Extraordinary G’z and I entered, another artist was going on stage for his show. I have to say that I was rather impressed with Chicago hip-hop artist Omen, both because of his positive lyrical vibe, and also because of the first-rate, neo-soul band that backed him. I recognized the drummer and bass player as two musicians that had been playing drum solos on Sixth Street earlier in the week, and before Omen’s set was over, the drummer and bass player had switched places, so the band’s final drum solo was played by the bass player (and played quite well, I might add!).
After the Akina Adderley performance, I walked quickly over to Club Deville to catch the final SXSW performance of the League of Extraordinary G’z. When I arrived, the group was gathering in a corner of the venue for their group prayer, which they do before each performance. Club Deville was more of a large outdoor enclosure than a night club in the traditional sense, and it was fairly crowded.
I was expecting to see my friends in the League of Extraordinary G’z when I got to the Javelina, but I wasn’t expecting to run into my homeboy Fort Knox from Atlanta, who was actually in Austin to MC several different showcases, including this one. The League is arguably Austin’s best rap group, if it can be actually called a rap group and not a collective, for there are actually smaller rap groups within LOEGz. Their performance at the smaller Javelina venue was without their live drummer, but it was still dynamic, opening with their anthemic “On Your Neck, Ass and Elbows”, always done in honor of Esbe, the 6th Street Bully, a League member who passed away of an undiagnosed medical condition in 2011. National recognition for the League of Extraordinary G’z is long overdue. Their performance at Javelina was followed by none other than Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys.