SXSW’s meaningless procession of music publicist malaise and digital French fry marketing will get some much-needed gravity this year courtesy of Snoop Dogg, who’s just been confirmed as the festival’s keynote speaker. Mr. Dogg—also known as Calvin Broadus, sometimes known as Snoop Lion, apparently called Snoopzilla and DJ Snoopadelic under certain circumstances—will appear under that moniker, or possibly one he’ll make up just to mess with the moderator, for a “keynote conversation” during the annual Austin festival. He’ll be the first rapper in SXSW history to do so, following in a lineage of primarily legacy acts like Bruce Springsteen and Quincy Jones. He’ll also most likely be the first to do it while incredibly high.
Perhaps more importantly, like Lady Gaga last year, Snoop represents the new breed of musician who happily embraces branding, which is the only kind of musician who can hope to succeed at SXSW (or anywhere else) these days. As the festival’s press release notes, Snoop has released music across genres from country to reggae, regularly “curates experiences” as a DJ, slaps his name on myriad “lifestyle products,” produces his own YouTube series, and even founded a successful youth football league. He also starred in the movie Soul Plane, and released his own pornographic video. Where’s your pornography, Springsteen? How do you expect to speak to the artists of today?
Snoop Dogg’s panel is not titled “Keeping Your Mind On Your Money And Your Money On Your Mind,” because no one has any damn imagination around here.