We’re not sure if it’s in spite of or because of soaring temperatures, lingering global catastrophe and political instability, but the UK is experiencing one of the strongest festival seasons in recent memory. Returning to the ‘hidden valleys’ of Herefordshire, Nozstock (ticket link) has long been friendly to the hip hop scene and this year hosts it’s biggest roster yet. This provides the perfect opportunity to give a UK hip hop head’s guide to the festival (also we have our own goddamn stage takeover – more on that later)….
Fun-loving is pretty much Nozstock’s middle name at this point and there are few headliners more fitting of that title that Dirty Dike. For the minority who are unaware, Dike’s unique brand of psychedelic story-telling has been a cornerstone of UK hip hop ever since he took the scene by storm as part of Contact Play in the 2000s. Well over a decade later and he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, having recently founded his own label Melonskin Records and releasing some of boppiest and most ignorant music yet.
Representing UK hip hop’s northern pole is outright renaissance man Lee Scott. Rapper, producer, author, cult leader – the list goes on. Armed with infamous one-liners and one of the most identifiable voices in rap, Lee is poised to turn Herefordshire to Jonesville for one night only and I’m all here for it (laaa).
Wait. Did you say UK hip hop? Well, what do you know, we’ve got a 3 hour stage takeover and we think you’ll like it. The line up includes superhuman syllable slaughterer Vitamin G as well as local Herefordshire legends Coosie & Habitus a last minute replacement for Chillman and G00SE (also known for their work as part of Verbal Highz). Brain Scran Records are also in tow to takeover the takeover, featuring performances from King Bracket and frequent collaborator Chie, Bristol-based spitter Komposa, the mind-bending Katz with A K and heavyweight boom-bap murderers The Last Elect and a performance from the label’s latest signing Ella Mae Sureef who will reportedly be dropping new bass heavy music on the label in league with King Bracket. Rumour has it that Vitamin G’s cronies Kemastry and Wundrop are also sneaking into the festival this year to bring a super secret CMPND performance. These UKHH favourites should be familiar names at this point, so get down to the The Bullpen stage on Friday to hear them do their thing.
Also making an appearance is TrueMendous, fresh off making history with UK hip hop’s first ever female-only tour. Mixing heartfelt bars with the sort of timeless flow anyone can appreciate, TrueMendous is a High Focus signee who has had music recently featured in FIFA 21 as well as featuring in Pepsi’s 2020 Christmas Campaign. Equally true & tremendous is the infectiously energetic Sparkz. Producing and shelling down hip hop, bassline and everything in between, Sparkz somehow has somehow found time to work with not one but three supergroups- The Mouse Outfit, Voodoo Black and LEVELZ. Also bringing consistently dope hip hop vibes last minute addition to the line up Harvs Le Toad and Hutch can be found on the Garden stage on Friday and for a vocal talent that has regularly released hip hop while also skirting every type of wub to ever grace a soundsystem keep em peeled for Skitz cosign Joe Burn.
Practically completing the full breadth of the UK is Cornish resident MCMC Spoken aka Megan Chapman– a published poet and rapper poised to provide the lyrical antidote to the weekend’s debauchery. Meanwhile, Traffic MC arrives to guide hip hop head’s towards the rave, mixing watertight lyricism with a panache for drum & bass.
If Dike didn’t bring enough dirtiness for you, Cardiff-based jazz-inflected collective Dirty Alex are also in attendance, blending golden age hip hop with a live band set up. On a similar vibe are scallywag flag bearers The Midnight Zu who have been killing the festival circuit this year. Bringing soaring melodies, instrumental solos and stellar flows and freestyles from frontman Feline, The Midnight Zu menagerie are definitely one to catch.
Taking the hip hop tradition further afield is the ‘Say Less’ live show from poet/rapper Shak, exploring Black British culture through a combination of DJing, rap and spoken word. Similarly entertaining is the youth club and workshop paragon Natty Speaks, whose positive message has graced the likes of Glastonbury, Boomtown and Lovebox in previous years. Here’s hoping he’ll have the uplifting words to keep me powering through the long weekend…
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you fancy a bit of Sister Sledge, Bill Bailey (not a comedy set, probably still funny), Andy C, Flava D, Mungos Hi Fi and tons more, then come join us this weekend. Final few tickets available here.
We’ll see you at the Bullpen Stage on Friday.