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Its A Rap! Reflections on SXSW

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Though upon arrival psychedelic chanteuse and bon vivant Starving Yet Full was full of trepidation in regards to the seemingly thuggy crowd at Kendrick Lamar's villa party for SXSW, he was soon swaying in-motion in the ocean of synthetic blunt wrap aroma and shoulder-to-shoulder neo-urbantry that filled the commercialized shell of a former residence.

It's still a cheap thrill to drop the name Azari & III at a relatively unrelated industry event and be met with recognition and a quick usher in through the gates. Our wrists already sport a plethora of vibrant bands from the past eight days of SX frolicking, and we add neon-orange nylon VIP accessories as we slide in past the disgruntled line-up of wishful thinkers and aggravated or deflated somebodies.

Our "in" is someone we've never met from the American wing of Torontonian promotional empire Embrace. Adam Gill's sleepless super-team seem to be promoting every single event we show up at, be it a jam-band freakout, a trap artist rave-up or Kendrick Lamar's hyped-up after-hours.

Baauer is currently destroying the place with the re-appropriated rap beats common to our new era of mutli-genre crossover, where metrosexual anomalies like Starving can now manoeuvre freely and unthreatened amongst his once-feared throng of genuine American inner city folk.

I'm telling him that times have changed, the States is a different place than it was not so long ago. These days we can all get down together and eccentricity is at a high rate of acceptance. Proving me theory, SYF is getting compliments left right and center, from his head scarf to his excessively layered torso apparatus there doesn't seem to be a homophobe detractor in the bunch. Solange Knowles is especially enamoured and I'm sequestered to take a pic of the two of them. Another slick pic for the AZIII Spinner Magazine Instagram take-over.

SX has been a duality of easy-breezy meditative chillness and rush-rush tuk-tuk chaos. Amidst the line-ups and miss-outs I squeeze in some surprise experiences. Just last night at the Hype Machine Hotel party we Djed, I caught The Specials perform to a jammed-in crowd of anticipants, and they killed it.

I admit I'm a bit of a fan at heart, I was a parka sporting three-button lil mod boy back when, and Im still wearing authentic monkey boots to this day. The brown leather with yellow stitching pair this eve. Monkey's were always the cooler Doc Martin alternative, and I have a source in the UK for surplus from the Ukraine where they were once the blue collar choice for civic nightlife footwear in tough Eastern Block factory towns.

I still burn that torch and secretly hope that balls-out neo-mod rock makes as much of a comeback for my burgeoning new guitar outfit The Cruelty Party as house did for Azari & III. Timing is the big one and its a strange miracle that I caught the first wave (or was it the third!!??) and then hit the cyclical rejuvenation just as I hit my long awaited musical stride. I feel like I'm privy to some insider information holding onto the secrets of underground society instilled in me back in the early 90' rave-o-lution.

I remember clearly a time when every person at the party would lock into their own personal dance interpretations, their bodies twisting, curling, winding and spiralling in parallel to the channeling techno from guys like Terry Mullen, Stacey Pullen, LX and Richie Hawtin. No one had any care of self image or the onlookers around them. They were lost in this new and subliminal sound that allowed for freedom of movement and deep forays into the alleys of the mind.

My first tattoo is a Plastikman on my forearm, replete with two blazing gats in the air, unfortunately severely damaged by a skateboarding half-pipe incident while still in the vulnerable healing stage. I just reconnected with Richie for the fist time since those fledgling acid-drenched warehouse raves in Hamilton, Ontario in the early to mid-90s.

Back then Richie stayed over at my then girlfriend's apt with his brother Matt. I'm pretty sure she had a fling with the younger Hawtin brother while I was relegated to our roommates bed. Not that I mind, I'm a communal kind of guy and at least that time she picked a cute and harmless chap to tickle my jealousy nerve.

My current partner, lover, companion of the past 10 years, fiancee and accomplice in all things
deep and dangerous is with me. Eunice is the light of my life, I bring her almost everywhere with me, my memories aren't complete unless shared with her. Scary dependancy, I know, but after years of aloof detachment brought on by the serially damaged relationships Id so long navigated, I'm once again all-in and head first without a safety net. Somehow this time it's different, it's longer, deeper, stronger and irresistible.

Life is suddenly different these days. We are in the flow, things are taken care of all around us, we just need to stay on the tracks and maintain our open portal to the magical and magnificent. To the strains of Texas Radio and the Big Beat, edited by Splice and looping up transcendentally, we coast home in a dusty 4x4 driven by a young local with a tripper's glint in his eye. I'm blissfully unaware that the following morning my flight out of Austin will be cancelled due to an electrical storm in our connection city Atlanta. We'll be crashing on the couch of our local herbal medicator as his unexpected and errant flat mates crash in the door and continue their drunken domestic melee.

I can't help but take comfort in the fact that life is life whether in the Lone Star or in Parkdale. Wherever you go there you are, all the world's a stage, and the stage seems set for the Azari & III mission to America, our continuing crusade to spread the message of techno-funk to the partisan corners of this great nation.