UKHH Summer Sickness: A Hip Hop Guide to Boomtown
UKHH are mad excited to announce the third of our UKHH Summer Sickness festival recommendations… The mighty Boomtown Fair!
Although it officially sold out in February, Limited resale tickets are now available! To grab the last ones while there’s still time… simply click HERE!
Now in its tenth year and tenth chapter of its evolving story line, Boomtown has a history of putting on an impressive array of hip hop talent since its beginnings. Label takeovers by the likes of High Focus and genre bending spectacles (such as 2014’s ‘Original Fever’ UK Hip Hop Reggae Showcase on the Lion’s Den stage with Daddy Skitz, Rodney P and friends) have become the stuff of legend. Talent to have graced their stages over the years (to name but a few not appearing this time round) include everything from international legends like Cypress Hill, Pharoahe Monch and Jungle Brothers, to a diverse spectrum of UK heroes encompassing everything between Ocean Wisdom and Dizraeli and the Small Gods.
For a pretty good summary of what vibe to expect… The bulk of the footage for the above video for ‘Weed & Ale’ featuring Jman, Dr Syntax, Eva Lazarus and Pete Cannon (all of whom are reappearing this year) was shot way back at Boomtown 2013. Boomtown has continued to grow with expanding crowds, districts, stages and hundreds more acts but the rowdy spirit of hedonism and positive vibes have remained the same.
No surprises then that this year’s line-up has an absolute tonne of talent for the discerning hip hop hunter to uncover!
As festivals can be confusing places to navigate for the soberest of brains and pouring over every act on every stage is a tiring process that most probably can’t be arsed with, UKHH have done all that painstaking leg work for you in order to provide our detailed guide to all the hip hop popping off at this year’s Boomtown…
One of the things that makes Boomtown so sick, beyond the debaucherously immersive city that all the madness takes place in, is the sheer diversity of musical styles peppered across the site at any given time. While each district and stage has its own stylistic focus, so mega-fans of a particular genre could be tempted to get settled, it’s a sure fire bet that doing so would result in missing something dope happening somewhere completely unexpected.
Case in point: Whistlers Green (a district renowned for Jazz, Funk, Soul, World Music fusion, talks and a host of chilled out/holistic activities) boasts a surprising array of sick hip hop influences on it’s Windmill Stage. Out of my personal must-see acts at the whole festival, the multi-influenced Ghanaian/Glaswegian producer and lyricist Kobi Onyame is towards the top of the list. Check out his most recent album Gold for an idea of the kind of triumphant afro-rhythm infused hip hop to expect from him. Seriously ill.
Also on the stage for anyone with instrumental leanings… Bilal; the hip hop influenced soul/jazz artist with notable collaborative efforts on releases from the likes of Common and Talib Kweli who scooped a Grammy for his input on seminal Kendrick Lamar album To Pimp a Butterfly, as well as boom bap jazzers Blue Lab Beats, mixing golden era hip hop influences with jazz instrumentalism and samples.
Keeping the curve balls coming, Rocks Foe, the highly charged and lyrically deep MC known to straddle grime and hip hop and informed by a further range of diverse influences is present as part of a takeover by Bristol label Black Acre. Also, embodying a truly international sound that’s impossible to pin down (I thought she was UK when I first heard her) with Zambian and Botswanan roots but now based in Australia, Sampa the Great is well worth a check. If you haven’t already heard her, think African rhythms, jazz, hip hop and a powerful voice phasing between neo soul melodies and conscious lyricism.
The roots-heavy Lion’s Den stage also sees some hip hop vibes blending their way into the mix with UKHH long time favourites Rodney P and Illaman taking the stage as part of the Spragga Benz and Friends set. Other highlights for heads are likely to include live trip-hop/lounge band Morceeba, and genre defying super-group Gorillaz in a headline slot that’s sure to include more than a few meanders into the territory of hip hop bars and beats. Switch districts and head over to Paradise Heights and you’ll find bass-heavy party starters Too Many T’s rocking the Hotel Paradiso venue.
Even hidden amongst the stellar line-up of broader dubby soundsystem hecticness that populates Boomtown’s woodland parties there are a couple of UK names for rap treasure hunters to track down. Prolific with the festival performances this year, Gardna can be found performing as part of the Wonka-Vision Forest Takeover and Skitz and Joe Burn are set to play the Tangled Roots stage where its safe to expect they’ll be providing a stomping soundtrack to the forest setting, fusing hip hop and Jamaican influenced basslines.
All this said… Unsurprisingly, although there are abundant MCs and DJs worth searching Boomtown’s myriad districts for, the bulk of our UKHH recommended acts can be found dominating the Barrio Loco District!
This year’s line up on the flagship stage Poco Loco is something fierce. For fans with a taste for grimier flavours, bill-toppers Ghetts, Lady please-answer-my-fan-mail-and-marry-me-already Leshurr, Foreign Beggars, Nadia Rose and Big Zuu will be providing unrelenting party vibes. Another artist to go heavy on the festival rounds this year is the ever unpigeon-holeable Kojey Radical. With a hard earned and steadily expanding following now aware of his varied and poetically raw body of work, the crowd are likely to go off for this one.
The suplex that the North has applied to the UK Hip Hop game in the last few years is suitably apparent in the presence of its multiple super-crews/collectives taking the stage at this years Boomtown. LEVELZ, The Mouse Outfit (ft Ellis Meade, Dubbul O and Berry Blac for their Poco Loco performance) and Cult of The Damned have all proved themselves to be serious threats. With fluid rosters and cross over between MCs (e.g. Black Josh is affiliated with all three) each entity reflects a distinctly different facet of a stylistically diverse, collaborative community. C.O.T.D. bring a lazy, fuck-everything rawness comparable to being the UK’s answer to Odd Future. In Contrast The Mouse Outfit bring positive, funk infused smooth grooves, with their recent album Jagged Tooth Crook sounding like distilled summertime. LEVELZ bring the rave.
For fans focused on live instrumentation… Poco Loco also provides. Taking it way back, in a salute to one of the all-time undisputed masters of production, the 18 piece Abstract Orchestra will be performing a musical tribute to the late J Dilla. Scene legends (and one of the original trip hop bands) The Herbaliser will also be taking the stage. Producer and MC duo, Makola, have developed their combination of afrobeat hip hop to include a live band and brass section that should have fans of Fela Kuti and UK rap alike moving in unison. It goes without saying that all of the above might be something special.
For a masterclasses on control of the decks: With a list of influences and collaborations as long as a life-size Stretch Armstrong’s arms, DJ Vadim will be tearing things up and no doubt have some surprises up his sleeves. Mixing global influences including hip hop, trip hop and a heavy pinch of sub-dub L’Entourloop will no doubt be providing a marching soundtrack to skank out to when they take the stage with Troy Berkley and N’Zeng. Kicking the party up a gear, festival and rave scene regulars, The Nextmen, will also be supplying the grooves with an extended family of Gentlemans Dub Club, Garnda, Kiko Bun, Eva Lazarus, and Jman.
Also on a hype tip, the infinitely danceable 808INK will be ensuring a steady stream of cleverly infectious bars and vibes to keep the rave moving and Babylon Dead will be capitalising on energetic support for their dissident ragga-meets-hip hop style and tearing the roof clean off. Another act to balance double time spits, basslines and politics, scene veteran and activist/rapper Lowkey will be in attendance to serve up heavy bars with some food for thought on the side.
For sure fire hits with UK hip hop fans, acts bringing that pure UK underground sound include Children of Zeus, Dr Syntax & Pete Cannon and Coops. C.O.Z. have been on a serious rise lately, with mellow, summery vibes aplenty, an RnB edge to their hooks and raps that sound both very Golden Era and very UK. Long-time collaborators Syntax and Cannon have a catalogue of material built up since the beginning of the century and (as probably the funniest lyricist in the UK scene) crowds can expect Syntax to entertain and hype in equal measure. Finally, High Focus Records’ most recent signing Jordan Cooper AKA Coops, will be showcasing his dope new album, No Brainer, and evidencing why he’s currently one of the UK’s fastest risers.
And that’s just the hip hop… For anyone who fancies diversifying, you’ll be able to catch pretty much everything else under the sun at any moment. With a huge array of districts that each sport their own immersive worlds and more hidden side shows, hi-jinks and mini venues than you could shake a stick at, Boomtown ensures an experience that’s likely to fly by in a messy, technicolor blur. Come join us going tits up to our recommended acts, shooting some exclusive on-site bars, rolling round with a boombox on a music video flex and most probably at points getting completely side-tracked and lost amongst the carnage.
The final surge of resale tickets are very limited and will sell out fast, so to get involved with the 10th anniversary celebrations get yours now!