Kanye West surprise to top off SXSW 2011 festival

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Finally, a hot-shot wild card shows up with a mysterious gig at this week’s South by Southwest 2011: the return of Kanye West.

For a while, it was looking as if the annual music industry conference and concert festival in Austin, Texas, was going to be left to a strange cluster of ’80s has-beens — Duran Duran is all over town, the Bangles have a charity showcase, Men Without Hats is there, for Pete’s sake — and Bob Geldof is Thursday’s keynote speaker. But this weekend, West “announced” an upcoming gig at 11:59 p.m. Saturday at the apex of the Texas event via this typically cryptic video:

West last appeared at SXSW in 2009, playing a two-hour showcase at a party sponsored by a clothing company and a music magazine. He played a lot of songs from his then-new album “808s and Heartbreak,” and he was joined by a cast of great guests, including English soul singer Mr. Hudson; rappers Consequence (from Queens, N.Y.), Kid Cudi (Cleveland), Big Sean (Detroit), Tony Williams (West’s cousin); fellow Chicagoans Leonard “GLC” Harris, Really Doe and Common; and neo-soul great Erykah Badu.

Who will he bring with him this year? And isn’t his ginormous personality enough?

Stay tuned. This blog will be chock full of SXSW news and reviews the rest of the week, live from the self-proclaimed “music capital of the world.”

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