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Rapper headlines secret Microsoft concert

By Nick Valencia, CNN
Rapper Big Boi drew a crowd when he performed at a concert in Atlanta advertised via Twitter and text.
Rapper Big Boi drew a crowd when he performed at a concert in Atlanta advertised via Twitter and text.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Microsoft uses social networking to spread the word about promotional party
  • Rapper Big Boi performed for more than 1000 people
  • Event was held to promote company's new phone, the Kin
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Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Can you throw a party on a tweet?

That's just what Microsoft did Thursday night, inviting people on a scavenger hunt to join them for a concert in Atlanta. The event promoted the launch of its new phone, the Kin, which has social media at its heart.

The inconspicuous concert in a roller derby hall was headlined by hip-hop icon Big Boi from Outkast and drew more than 1,000 people in less than three hours.

Microsoft product manager Jeremiah Glodoveza said the experiment exemplified the power of social media to mobilize an audience -- an idea that is the core concept behind the company's new phone, he said.

"We believe in social media," Glodoveza said. "We believe in social networking. The Kin is a phone that was purposefully built for people who are navigating their social lives."

The concert, which also featured Southern rapper Jay Electronica and Alabama sensation YelaWolf, was the last of seven secret shows held across the country.

The idea was showcased May 8 in San Francisco, California, in an auto body shop. The entourage has since popped up in Chicago, Illinois, and New York, throwing free concerts with A-list performances and local artists, all hosted at the most unexpected locations.

"We don't disclose the venue until a couple hours before the show, so people are glued to social networks. They're refreshing their screens non-stop," Glodoveza said.

"It's about bringing people together with their passions and having a great moment ... offline," he added.

"It's been excellent, actually," Big Boi said. "It started out by dropping clues, just word of mouth and using Facebook and Twitter and things like that to get the word out, and man, it just blew up."

Big Boi, who added that he likes keeping in touch with his fans, said he's recently been releasing singles from his solo debut, "Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty," out July 6, to give his fans something to hold on to.

"It's caught on like wildfire," he added.

Big Boi is certainly not the first entertainer to use social media to create a flash mob of fans.

His good friend, comedian Dave Chappelle -- best known for his sketch-comedy program "Chappelle's Show," which ended in 2005 -- has held similar events for more than a year.

In July, thousands of people showed up in the middle of the night in downtown Portland, Oregon, to watch Chappelle perform. They learned about the show through text message, Twitter and word of mouth.

"It works, man. It definitely works," Big Boi said.

Microsoft's Glodoveza says the company -- whose new phone combines the users social networks on its home screen to encourage "natural communication" -- hopes to promote more impulsive and spontaneous events like the one held in Atlanta on Thursday night.

"It's not purpose-built to be an iPhone competitor. We built a phone from the ground up with social networking," Glodoveza said. "Our motto is, share life as you're living it."