As the first thing resembling an unrestricted summer since 2019 is about to appear (stops writing touches wood, crosses fingers and prays to all the deities)… Team UKHH is finally going to get stuck into some more festival silliness. More to be revealed on that as the theoretical probably-summer maybe unfolds. First up though… Balter Festival 2022.
Now in its 8th Year, the small but mighty Balter has built a reputation for going particularly hard. Its status as a Mecca for ravers (which puts it in the conversation for maddest festival alongside giants like Boomtown) and the myriad styles of dance music that flood its line up… might make it seem like an unlikely choice for a focus on hip hop. Look closer and there’s a rising presence for the genre that’s taken root and is starting to expand.
Still a fairly low capacity festival, Balter is starting to catch much wider national notoriety which will no doubt see it grow over the next decade. This makes it particularly dope to clock that, pre-empting this rise, UK hip hop has nudged its way in on the ground floor and is becoming an increasing feature of the Chepstow Racecourse event.
Previous years have trialled the genre with big slots for hip hop legends. Dead Players and Split Prophets shelled down sets in the event’s first year way back in 2014. Since then the likes of The Mouse Outfit and Chester P have graced stages. This year for any bass obsessives with a side-passion for hip hop there’s a lot of to seek out…
In alphabetical order here’s our picks:
Coming straight out of Cardiff, drawing on West-African funk and Afrobeat blended with Golden Era Hip-Hop, live band Afro Cluster are here to spread love and make bodies move. MC Skunkadelic has been leading the gang on a merry journey through festival stages and big name support slots for the likes of Hot 8 Brass Band, People Under The Stairs and Ibibio Sound Machine. For a taste, check out their debut LP The Reach which dropped back in 2021.
The multi-genre MC and AFT head honco who just fully returned to hip hop with his latest LP Dreams of Paradise is admittedly probably at Balter on a DnB one but he’s a high calibre lyricist who will undoubtedly engage over whatever BPM he’s spitting over.
Deyu ft Durbrain
Live band Deyu bring the deadliest rabid hip hop and jazz. Featuring mega talented players from Snazzback, Waldos Gift, RWKUS and Binbag Wisdom. Fronted by Dur Brain on MC duties whose caught co-signs from the likes of Sektion Red, Wordplay and Dr Syntax.
Diz needs no introduction. The poetic, folk and world music influenced hip hop artist has been making challenging but danceable music that pushes the boundaries of the genre for years. Whether you’ve seen him with the Small Gods live band back in the day or killing it with just a DJ in tow the show is always electric.
Loop pedal genius Dub FX combines beatboxing and vocals into hip hop, dub and rave infused bangers that stomp the line between spiritual and heavy.
The genre blending MC who bobs and weaves between hip hop stylings and various rave sounds is a guaranteed party starter.
Graduating from his Delegates of Culture hip hop roots into the grinning conscious face of rave Inja gets deep over any beat.
DMC world Champion JFB has been leaving jaws on the flaw with obscene turntable skills for a long time. Once referred to by Fatboy Slim as ‘The thinking man’s Grandmaster Flash’ the Brighton DJ’s ability to scratch, cut and generally juggle a broad range musical genres from funk to glitch-hop to breakbeat to dnb around the core hip hop tradition of turntablism is second to none.
Festival regular, Devon soundman and Skitz protégé Joe Burn is a threat. With releases on Bristol hip hop label Green Brick Records and a substantial history of smashing vocal duties at raves Joe is a top tier crowd controller.
Don’t even attempt to pigeon-hole these guys. The Bristol Based gang of producers, vocalists and DJs bridge dancehall, hip hop, grime and jungle are a crack team of club and festival destroyers.
Leaf Dog and BVA
The undisputed heavyweights on this line up. Leaf and BVA are a force to be reckoned with in the UK hip hop scene. With high profile releases on the High Focus imprint, big moves as one half of internationally renowned crew The Four Owls and numerous drops on their own label RLD, the duo are beyond certified. Expect numerous Boom Bap bangers from the last decade and tracks off this year’s sick collaborative LP The Menu.
Also probably here playing DnB. But the guy is UK hip hop royalty/a hair fashion icon.
Too Many Ts
The Ts have whittled themselves their own unique lane and demographic with their brand of witty party hip hop that’s seen them become a regular feature of festival line ups. The order of the day is always fun first and foremost with some serious tekkers when it comes to the back-to-back, call and return element of classic hip hop.
Zico comes with bangers. Seriously grimey with hip hop and uk rap/drill stylings, the guys a beast with the flow and possesses a lyrical capability that would make many a more seasoned spitter envious.
If you’re not present at Chepstow from the 19th to 22nd of May to witness all the above goodness as well as every rave sound under the sun (and apparently the Vengaboys)… We’ll be around to document some of it. So keep em peeled for some heavy content we’ll be filming with the hip hop Familia on site.
Tickets for this years event are still available HERE.