Festival season is upon us and it promises to be a great one for hip hop & R&B fanatics as a lot of big names will embark on festival stages all across Belgium. The legendary Wu-Tang Clan will bless Couleur Café with an epic performance, Pharrell Williams fans can head to Rock Werchter and if you want to see Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky & Nicki Minaj take the stage, Les Ardentes is the place to be. I’m sure everybody is familiar with those names but festival season has one other big advantage: it’s the perfect time to fall in love with your new favourite artists.
Rock Werchter | June 25 | 18:15 – 19:15
Founded by Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland aka J & T in 2013, the mysteriously low-profile six piece Jungle quickly took the internet by storm with their funky, disco-era beats and penchant for brisk grooves and snaps. Early singles The Heat and Platoon were big hits and their self-titled debut album landed them a nomination for the prestigious BBC Sound of 2014 Award.
Couleur Café | July 3 | 00:15 – 01:15
Hiatus Kaiyote is most definitely one of our favorite acts right now and we’re not the only ones who feel that way. The Australian neo-soul quartet, formed in 2011, has been championed by fellow artists, including Pharrell and Prince, ever since the release of their 2012 debut album Tawk Tomahawk. After three years of absence, Hiatus Kaiyote released their impressive follow-up album Choose Your Weapon in May. If you’re in the mood for some soul from Down Under, this is a performance you simply can’t miss out on.
Les Ardentes | July 12 | 14:50 – 15:30
New York rap is back. Ever since A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob started making waves in 2011, there’s has been a steady flow of rappers and rap crews reinforcing New York’s key role in hip hop. Although the Beast Coast movement which includes Joey Bada$$’ Pro Era, The Underachievers & Flatbush Zombies might be the best example of rap crews putting New York rap back on the map, Ratking is definitely the most refreshing group coming out of New York right now. Their sound is influenced by early ’90s rap beats, jazz and noise rock and has reinvented New York rap without destroying it in the process.
Les Ardentes | July 9 | 14:50 – 15:30
Internet buzz and underground fame found Denzel Curry when he became a member of Raider Klan, the lo-fi brainchild of underground hip-hop hero SpaceGhostPurrp. In 2013 the Florida-based rapper delivered the impressive debut project dubbed Nostalgic 64 which landed him a perfomance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival. Earlier this month he released 32 Zel/Planet Mushrooms and it’s safe to say that the young emcee has grown a lot since the release of his first project. He’s much more comfortable with his voice now and instead of going outside his comfort zone, he dives deeper into the complexities of his own sound. Those of you who are familiar with Ghent-based party concept All Eyes On Hip Hop already know that Curry always puts on a killer performance.
Cactus Festival | July 11 | 16:40 – 17:50
South-London born, Vienna-based producer and multi-instrumentalist SOHN released his debut album Tremors on the innovative label 4AD last year. Contrasting abstract electronic beats with a killer falsetto, the record is filled with tracks that are equally at home in poorly lit rooms and festival stages. The young producer/singer is in high demand, working with the likes of BANKS & Lana Del Ray and snagging a well-received BBC Radio 1 Residency. Critics often compare his musical style to those of James Blake & How to Dress Well but we can assure you that this man is in a league of his own. His live performances are always marked by a mix of his sultry vocals, sombre piano chords and electronic sounds, delivering a fascinating surrealist feeling and a show one can’t simply run out on.
Dour | July 16
One of the stars of Atlanta’s new class of hip-hop renaissance men and Awful Records‘ Father, Raury was turning heads before graduating high school and gained a devoted following with the release of his first independent album Indigo Child. His first single God’s Whisper earned him co-signs by Lorde, who asked him to contribute to the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack, and Andre 3000, who had Raury open for Outkast at their Atlanta homecoming concert #ATLast back in September 2014. Some even went as far as saying that Raury might be the new Andre 3000 but the young rapper wasn’t too fond of that comparison. If you land a record deal with Columbia Records at only 18 years old, you must be doing something right, right?
Dour | July 17
Kaytranada is without a doubt one of the hottest DJs/producers right now. He first started gaining traction for his unique remixes of songs such as Janet Jackson’s If and has quickly become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after beatsmiths when it comes to hip-hop’s electronic-tinged avant-garde, working with emerging stars such like Vic Mensa and GoldLink. His Boiler Room sets are legendary and this guy definitely knows how to get a crowd moving.
Dour | July 19
England’s grime scene is finally getting the attention it deserves. After Skepta, along with other grime artists such as Jammer and Novelist, shared the stage with Kanye West when he premiered his club anthem All Day during the Brit Awards earlier this year, a renewed fascination with grime (and Skepta) emerged. The North London native is one of the founders of famous UK grime label Boy Know Better and a grime legend.
Lokerse Feesten | August 5 | 21:15 – 22:00
Woods took the Belgian hip hop scene by storm when he released the video for his debut single Champion Sound. The summer-ready single gained so much traction that the Sint-Niklaas-based rapper postponed the release of his Soft Parade EP. The laid-back flow and catchy chorus he dishes up on this first offering is very promising for the future as the nation seems to have fallen in love with this kid. The young emcee has been popping up everywhere, from a small, local hip hop festival in Aalst to the big studio of national radio channel Q-Music. On August 5 he will take the stage of Red Bull Elektropedia‘s Broken Beats during the Lokerse Feesten. Support your locals, people!
Wastelands | August 8
Often called the European answer to Tyler, The Creator, Irish rapper Rejjie Snow is sure to please. Just like his American counterpart he adopts a somewhat dark tonality to a lot of his music, along with the recurring spooky voice that they both infuse into their rhymes. Even though the comparison is inevitable, the young Dublin-based emcee affirms his originality with blazing songs touching on everything from albinism to the Cartoon Network.