Five unmissable hip hop festival performances

Jimmy Coultas takes a look at some of the festival moments hip hop fans simply can’t pass off in 2015.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 29th May 2015.
Originally published: 28th May 2015

Image: Ghostface Kilah and Raekwon perform at Coachella (Credit)

If there’s one thing you can guarantee will play a big part at festivals this summer, it’s hip-hop. The forty year plus genre has been a mainstay in these events - traditionally rock and dance music dominated - for a hot minute, but since Jay-Z’s Glastonbury 2008 coup de grace it's become more and more prevalent in the fields of our nation.

Last year hip hop had it's say, something we foresaw when we rightly suggested Outkast at Bestival would be amazing, but 2015 will witness plenty of high profile examples of it, one which caused a certain petition you may or may not have heard about.

Ahead of the season beginning to really hit full swing we’ve rounded up five of the most unmissable hip hop moments any b-boy or b-girl should get down to this summer.

Kanye West at Glastonbury

Has there been a more divisive figure in music in the twenty first century? A combination of award show tirades, frankly ridiculous interview techniques and a high profile reality TV star wife has combined to make huge swathes of people hate Kanye West, so much so that over a hundred thousand people have put their name to a petition demanding he be removed from Glastonbury’s pyramid stage.

Apparently it’s an affront to the real music of the festival (as viewed by white rock fans), but we’re lost as to how putting the biggest hip hop star on the planet on a stage that, let us not forget, had the likes of Level 42, Robbie Williams and Shakespeare’s Sister take a starring role in the last century on it, adds up to such a grotesque move.

What makes West so magical for his millions of fans is his paradoxical ability to self parody despite being seemingly so self aware, case in point the so bad it's good video for his beguiling blend of bubblegum and ignorance 'Bound 2' above.

That petition will have drawn a mirthful smile as well; this is a man after all who rapped "Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it, I guess every superhero need his theme music" on 2010's 'Power'. It'll also probably be the premise for one of his infamous rants...

One things for certain though is there will be plenty of eyes on him when he does come round. It looks likely that Pharrell Williams will be on before him, a repeat of the running order at Wireless last year (which we reviewed), and with West due a new album out soon it promises to be an undeniable talking point of the summer that will divide opinion over and over again.

Glastonbury Festival Guide.

Hip hop in Croatia

The emergence of Croatia as a destination with its own unique musical charm and identity has been the big shift in festival going over the last decade, with many festivals falling on a slightly more laid back vibe perfectly suited to the more mellow strains of hip-hop.

The beach bars of Tisno, home to Electric Elephant, The Garden FestivalSoundwave and more this summer, will see the likes of Slum Village and Nightmares on Wax perform, as well as smoky grooves underpinning the daytime offerings.

Further afield Outlook has Run the Jewels (watch them perform at Coachella, above) and Jurassic Five, whilst Fresh Island Festival is almost wholly hip hop focused, with Joey Bada$$ and Danny Brown taking centre stage. Best of all sunshine is near enough guaranteed - there really is nowhere better to absorb the boom bap this summer than basking in an Adriatic glow.

Skiddle Croatia Guide

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah performing Only Built for Cuban Linx at Wireless Tenth Anniversary

Wireless is the urban festival du jour of Britain, with an abundance of rappers making an appearance at both the three days of the main event and the special 10 year anniversary addition. Kendrick Lamar, fresh off the back of his utterly brilliant To Pimp a Butterfly (read our review), heart-throb Drake, old school legends De la Soul and Public Enemy, the list goes on.

For us though it’s the combination of these two Wu Tang titans (main pic) celebrating Raekwon's  twenty year old debut and perhaps the greatest crime led hip hop album of all time, Only Built for Cuban Linx, which is the cream of the crop. The duo were extremely compelling when performing the opus at Coachella recently and it’s a must see moment for anyone wanting to catch a bit of hip hop history.

They play the Tenth Anniversary on Sunday June 29th, alongside Drake, Black Star, Big Sean and more (see the full Wireless Tenth Anniversary Line Up) but this eclipses it all in our eyes.

New Look Wireless Tenth Birthday Party

Read Review: Raekwon - Fila

Nas performing Illmatic

From one classic LP to another, Illmatic makes a triumphant return to festivals in the UK after being an undoubted highlight of Lovebox in 2014. It seemed like the whole of last year revolved around celebrating two decades since the debut from Nas, with a fantastic documentary accompanying a live tour across the globe for an LP pretty much anyone who likes hip hop loves.

That enthusiasm remains undimmed as Nas brings the ten track masterpiece to the circuit again, taking in Midlands bass-fest Detonate on Saturday 30th May and Parklife eight days later. You can be assured there will be complete head nodding unison when 'Represent' (above) ripples through the speakers.

The Boom Bap festival in it’s entirety

We can’t talk about hip hop at festivals without mentioning Boom Bap, a gathering which does one thing and one thing alone, celebrate hip hop. The line up is ridiculous, with new school mainstays like Homeboy Sandman and Earl Sweatshirt, UK dons Foreign Beggars and legends such as Jeru the Damaja all playing.

What’s all the more refreshing is the event, which takes place in Mildenhall Stadium in Suffolk a few miles away from the UK's unlikely unofficial hip hop capital, Cambridge, clearly reverberates to the more underground flavours of the genre. If you want three days of neck snapping sounds it doesn't get much better than this.

Boom Bap Festival Guide.

Like this? Try Review: Ghostface Killah live @ the Kazimier, Liverpool.

And Homeboy Sandman Interview: I'm not a copy cat.

Festivals 2019