Surprise! There’s a fresh batch of unexpected - albeit perfectly welcome - hip-hop heavy festivals to soothe your post-Splendour depression and/or complicate your end-of-year summer festival plans. Last week, the respective line-ups for DRIP World, SandTunes and Festival X dropped, joining Listen Out 2019 and FOMO 2020 in the finally-booking-international-rap-artists good books, with a slew of big name acts in headlining positions.
Over the next six months, we’ll be drip-fed select portions of what the US manages to arrange into an entire festival. Superstar-status acts – Travis Scott, Logic – as well as fan favourite first-timers – Trippie Redd, Blueface, Lil Pump, Doja Cat, Lizzo and Rico Nasty – are all packing their bags and heading down under (or preparing a last-minute sickie) at some point between now and January. Despite how convoluted (and expensive) checking all these artists off your watchlist would be, it’ll do just fine for the starving Australian hip-hop-heads who’ll wait to the ends of the earth to get even a glimpse of their elusive favourites. (The appearance of last-time last-minute cancellers, Migos and Lil Pump, is a promising, if not a bit of an anxiety-inducing sight.)
Festival X joins Listen Out and FOMO in tapping into that booming dance/rap crossover market. At these festivals, where you’ve got a rapper like Leikeli47, you’ve also got a Spotify-core act like MeduZa. Where there’s a Schoolboy Q, there’s a Diplo; a Blueface for an Alison Wonderland. It’s clearly proved a lucrative market (see: tradies, lads, Festival Shirt guys) for the latter two established festivals, and there are worse genres of music to cruise along and catch your breath to between the mosh-heavy rap sets, so here’s to hoping Festival X stays around booking AAA acts long after the year’s out.
On the other hand, a festival like DRIP World is less concerned with that dance demographic, leaning hard on the big and bold “HIP HOP URBAN” angle as per their promo material. Kicking off in Sydney at the end of next month, DRIP World will bring a live-action Rap Caviar setlist to Australian shores. (And, at long last, the nostalgia act isn’t some one-note, revived-via-meme, corpse of an act la Daryl Braithwaite in Falls Festival’s recent years – we’re gonna be crying in the club to the sound of the mid-2000s heartbreaker, Akon.) It seems like festival organisers, observing the success of Australia’s one-off Rolling Loud in Sydney earlier this year, are now attentive to the fact that these rap-focused festivals have a leg to stand on in this country and are keenly following in those footsteps.
SandTunes digs its heels in the metaphorical festival genre sand, curbing the dance-angle altogether and boasting a VIP headlining quartet that drops just a dash of premium pop (icon Carly Rae Jepsen) in the rap-stacked mix (Travis Scott, Logic, Juice WRLD). What SandTunes does best is reveal the Australian talent that might go under the radar given the extent of FIRST AUS SHOW-donning international acts on offer. There’s enough talent locally – from Sampa The Great to Kwame to Tkay Maidza – that if even half of the international acts pull out, there’ll be plenty of good times to be had on the festival circuit at the back end of 2019/early end of 2020. And this is before Rolling Loud’s next line-up has even been announced.
With this influx of fresh hip-hop-fronted rosters, Australian music festivals are exciting again, maybe?