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Jason Janik

Play it Lao

Profile image for By Lucinda Breeding
By Lucinda Breeding

Dallas MC set to bust beats at Thin Line

Sam Lao stirred up the Dallas music press in 2013 for good reason.

The young and rising Dallas MC is far more literary than Nicki Minaj and every bit as feral as Dominique Young Unique.

When she takes the stage next month during Denton’s Thin Line, a five-day documentary film and music festival, she’ll break off a big piece of her heady flow and grown-up poetry for Denton audiences.

Lao, whose visual arts chops preceded her preternatural spitting skills, dusted up attention for her six-track 2013 EP, West Pantego. And rightly so. Smart musical osmosis may have come from Lao’s association with the artists and electronic savants of Dallas crew Brain Gang (who rocked Andy’s Bar late last year during a hip-hop set), but at any rate, the EP sets the bar high for any follow-up. Pantego is a solid record from start to finish, but “Run!” is an example of Lao’s command of verse, and “Paradise,” which makes excellent use of Coldplay’s trial run with pop, is a docket of Lao’s intuition for music.

With a find such as Lao on the Thin Line music roster, festival organizers have signaled their seriousness in broadening what had been a 10-day blast just for documentary films. Lao represents the cream of Dallas’ hip-hop scene. Brave Combo stands in for tradition in Denton, and as of Wednesday night, the top lab jazz band at Denton High School had also earned a slot.

— Lucinda Breeding


What: A five-day documentary film and music festival

When: Feb. 12-16

Where: Films will screen at the Campus Theatre and the Fine Arts Theatre on the downtown Square. Live music will be at Dan’s Silverleaf, Hailey’s Club, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Sweetwater Grill & Tavern and the Thin Line Tent, which will be on East Oak Street near Oakland Street, across from Oak Street Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor.

How much: $150 for an all-access festival pass; $75 for a film pass, which grants access to any film screening; $75 for a music pass, which grants access to any venue for Thin Line music; and $15 for tickets to see Sebadoh in the Thin Line Tent. To buy passes, visit

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