It's March 2012. The freewheeling atmosphere of South by Southwest has Kickback Sundays co-founder Teresa Waldon's spirits high. It's been months since she and partner Suzie Rivera had ended Kickback Sunday's first season and cancelled its supposed return, yet her emotions towards her "baby" haven't wavered.
She moves around Austin, keeping tabs on every artist who affectionately calls her "Mama T" and especially her own artist, UZOY. After a meeting during a Warner Bros. showcase and exchanging pleasantries, she clutches onto her beanie, anxious to remove it. After some urging from myself, she does, revealing that most of her hair, a once-black sheen that draped past her ears is now gone -- the victim of chemotherapy and radiation from the removal of a cancerous mass.
"I'm almost done," she says. "Doctor says I'm almost cancer-free."
I smile, almost tearing up before going back to watch the show. Not before she mentions to me with a wry smile, "Kickback is coming back."
That Monday, she pulls out her phone and immediately pulls up Twitter, the main bridge for spreading her gospel with a message. "The Return of Kickback Sundays." Doughbeezy would be the event's new host and it would return to its original stomping grounds on the Northside.
Artists were thrilled, except for one thing that remained a constant from Kickback's initial run - backlash. "There's always been isolated incident, thats probably the more vocal one but we've gotten hate tweets and bad emails," Waldon says.
Rivera backs her: "We started Kickback for the underground, those who didn't have the option to network, who were getting frustrated from getting taken advantage of and actually have a haven to network," she says.
The main concern for everything Kickback revolves around its infamous "list," which has taken on a life of its own and since moved to an online format. The easiest way for artists to secure their spot was simple -- make sure your name was on the list before 7 p.m. Sunday.
Not until this edition of Kickback have artists camped out in front of the store to sign it. Before in season one, artists would have others sign them up, sometimes even getting their names misspelled as long as the opportunity was given to them.
"When it comes to the list -- I get offered money but you won't hear about me taking money," Rivera states."We try to be as fair as possible."
If Waldon is SF2's most noticeable face, earnest and forgiving, Rivera is the pitbull who facilitates every facet of her life with integrity. Say something negative about Kickback, she'll be quick to watch the room and then tell you off. The dynamic between them works, the kind of good-cop/bad-cop that picks up on the best people have to offer. It led to Rivera having another epiphany and calling Waldon.
"I get nervous whenever she does that," Waldon jokes.
Rivera cuts in, eager to retell the story. "I see some guys from the beginning, they'd been here every single day. they had improved, they're working together, they support each other," she says.
During Kickback's second arc, the newer group of artists had began forming a band of sorts. Not in separate cliques but reach out to one another. V.E.R.S.E. Records, an entity of many from Beaumont makes the drive 90 miles up just to perform on Sunday nights.
Their main threesome of a tall, linebacker-built rapper ET, Trail Blaze a pavement low voiced, dreadlocked demon in C4 continued to show out, along with other artists such as New Orleans' transplant C.I.T.Y., flowery radical Lyric Michelle, the constantly improving Young G and Luke Duke continued pursuing their talents within the ranks, impressing every week. Now, they're almost inseparable.
Rivera's idea had finally come to fruition, a full-fledged show. "Why don't we put a show together?" she asked. The artists they picked went through one of the rarest things in music these days: Actual training. Every Sunday would be proving ground while Waldon and Rivera worked behind the scenes. They wanted their group to be well-seasoned and prepared. Their kids agreed without hesitation.
"It's a blessing," C4 says in the middle of a video shoot, his voice raspy yet controlled. "They told me the mike costs twice the amount of my car. It's crazy."
Kickback Part 3 will run Wednesday morning.
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