If you’re debating whether or not to show up to H1GHR MUSIC‘s 2018 tour, which kicked off last week in Chicago, take it from a couple of people who were at their SXSW showcase last month: DO IT. You’ll regret absolutely nothing except maybe all the water you won’t be drinking and all the mixed cocktails that you will, and to prove it here are a few takeaways of one of the best nights we had at SXSW 2018, with additional commentary from resident photographer Yaaaaaas.
H1GHR MUSIC‘s showcase was perhaps the hottest and, surprisingly, the most sentimental show I attended at SXSW 2018. The setlist alone offered insight at how turnt the night would be, but when the time came for Jay Park to announce Ted Park‘s induction into the H1GHR MUSIC family, the show turned from hype hip-hop fanfare to a full-blown celebration. You could see the excitement in Ted Park’s face when he received his official H1GHR MUSIC chain, and afterward proceeded to treat everyone to an exclusive first listen to his newly-released single with Jay Park, “Hands In The Air.”
Yaaaaaas: “Watching Ted Park get chained at SXSW was like watching my child graduate college. For some reason, it made me incredibly proud to see the pure joy on his face mingle with his humbleness. He wore his heart on his sleeve that night and we were all cheering for him.”
Formed by long-time partners Jay Park and Cha Cha Malone, label H1GHR MUSIC, not even a year old, has wasted no time establishing a formidable crew. From Korean rapper pH-1 to former Seattle b-boy-turned-professional r&b singer Phe Reds, the label’s roster spans internationally, and it was all on display at The Main in Austin, TX.
Yaaaaaas: “pH-1 looked like someone’s uncle who is a real estate broker by day and a hardcore underground rapper by night. He was a crowd pleaser for sure.”
I recall the two girls next to me yelling extra loud during “Donut,” which felt like the icing on the cake for many people at the show. And who could blame them when Jay Park was swinging in and out during featured bops like that one.
On the other end of the spectrum was Phe Reds, who delivered a refreshing r&b set that gave most of us adequate time to breathe before the night launched back into hype mode. Russian-Ukranian rapper Avatar Darko dropped some nasty bars on stage and an energy that had the crowd vibing in full. And if you felt like you weren’t close enough to the action, Raz Simone took matters into his own hands by jumping off the stage and tearing through the crowd. He spent most of his set pacing back and forth down the middle of the audience.
Yaaaaaas: “Jarv Dee was the surprise of the night with his magical flow and his 4/20 positive lyrics.”
Hip-hop shows are known for their intensity and this one was no different. The venue, however, could have probably been better. The show was so lit that, as Yaaaaaas put it, “The fire marshal almost shut us down because we were so packed. Lines going in both directions for the show filled the venue past capacity.”
Insert a hundred fire emojis.
Yaaaaaas: “Junoflo showed up to party and got down and dirty on stage.”
I didn’t think I needed more Junoflo in my SXSW this year, but the moment he showed up and started going in, I decided I would do whatever it takes to watch this boy live. His charisma was overwhelming and above anyone, even Jay, drove fans the wildest.
It should be no surprise to anyone by now that Jay Park was born to entertain, but as someone who was here back when he first landed at SXSW as a guest on a K-pop lineup, seeing how much better he is at his craft now and how much he’s accomplished is lowkey inspiring. The man has come so far and it’s a thrill to see him hustle next to Cha Cha Malone as they continue to elevate H1GHR MUSIC as partners. Together, they were everything at SXSW.
Yaaaaaas: “Jay was Mr. Charisma on stage, laughing, smiling, and goofing off while Cha Cha was his balance, all calm, chill, and coolness. Yin and yang so to speak. They worked so well together on stage.”
Some of my favorite moments were listening to these two talk about the artists on the H1GHR MUSIC lineup. They spoke about each and every one of them with love and mad respect and it showed how much Jay Park has truly transformed, from rookie superstar into an extraordinary boss who knows how to take care of his own.
Photo Credit: Yaaaaaas