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In 2016, Tupac Shakur was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, twenty years after his murder in Las Vegas. Other hip hop inductees included NWA, Run DMC, and Public Enemy. History shows us that the inclusion of hip hop and non-white artists in traditionally white spaces will always cause a furor, but those in opposition will generally find themselves on the wrong side of those stories. Kanye West played a weird and wonderful career-spanning set at Glastonbury in 2015, despite nay-saying critics who would have preferred to keep the festival firmly rooted in guitar rock. What have we learned from these genre-defying artists making room for themselves in the mainstream? Well, not very much it would seem.
To say that the Longitude 2018 festival line up announcement was divisive would be a gross understatement. While the festival has had some identity issues in the past, 2018 is the clearest indication of real longevity. The line up is wall to wall hip hop, and boasts some of the biggest names in the game. Solange, J. Cole and Travis Scott headline across the three day festival, while smaller stages will be torn up by the likes of Cardi B, Anderson .Paak and Tyler The Creator. As first round line-ups go, it can’t be faulted. New artists stand alongside veterans in a carefully considered and swift change of direction for the festival.
So what’s the problem?
In an almost comically predictable backlash, the line-up has been criticised for its lack of indie darlings, guitar bands, and old-school rockers. It would seem that hip hop is welcome at Irish festivals, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of The Foo Fighters playing here for what feels like the sixtieth time in ten years, or Damien Rice making everybody feel something in a field. Given the roaring success of Kendrick Lamar’s 3 Arena date earlier this week, are we only able to enjoy hip hoppers who have crossed over to the mainstream and prized with critical legitimacy? Given our isle’s penchant for discovering and elevating new music, it’s surprising that so much has been said about the status of these artists. ‘I’ve never heard of any of these acts’ is a rather exciting place to be when you think about it. I for one would love to experience Anderson .Paak’s 2016 masterpiece Yes Lawd! for the first time again. It’s all ahead of you lads, all you have to do is listen.
And listen you shall. Below is your Longitude 2018 primer. Listen, enjoy, and keep an open mind. You might just see what all the fuss is about.