Given 2018’s high profile headliners Kendrick Lamar and N.E.R.D, one could be forgiven for thinking Electric Picnic would continue in the same vein by bringing more of hip hop’s upper echelons to Co. Laois in 2019.
Despite this year’s lineup not possessing perhaps the same star-studded rap artists as the year previous, the festival has curated a number rapidly growing Irish acts alongside a healthy dose of veteran performers. The balance of younger, cutting edge acts and more experienced spitters provides one of the festival season’s more interesting showcases of talent.
Arguably the most high profile hip hop artist at EP and one of England’s most exciting exports in recent times; 2017 Mercury Prize nominee Momodou Lamin Jallow aka J Hus is set to send thousands of festival goers into a frenzy.
Announcing his new found freedom with a live performance alongside Drake followed by some glistening features in recent months, it’s clear as 2019 draws to a close J Hus isn’t fucking around. The artist’s rhythmic blend of afro beats, dancehall and grime provide the perfect vibe to close out the summer.
Electric Arena, Saturday 19:00
Edging closer to the anniversary of his debut solo endeavour ‘October Year’, Clonsilla’s Nealo has had a rapid rise in 2019. From supporting California rapper YG, to two sold out headline shows, to playing to a massive crowd at Longitude, Diffusion Lab’s newest member has done it on his own terms.
Unapologetic in his approach, it’s his unequivocal honesty that enabled his sound to resonate so strongly. Contributing his own unique slant to the current Irish hip hop renaissance and backed up by INNRSPACE, the hardcore singer turned rapper is bringing his jazzy, introspective tunes to Salty Dog this weekend.
Salty Dog, Saturday 19:00
Never wavering from his Brummie roots, authenticity is a word that is inextricably linked with The Streets front man Mike Skinner. ‘Original Pirate Material’ was many a 90s baby’s introduction to British urban music in the 2000s.
His almost conversational delivery and instantly recognisable cadence come with the promise of the iconic wit and humour that propelled the group to the forefront of music. Having reinvented himself numerous times he is back with his live band performing his most influential work.
Electric Arena, Sunday 22:30
Evocative story-telling and hazy, jazz inspired cuts form the glue of Jess Smyth’s immersive world. Better known as Biig Piig, the London based artist’s effortlessly relatable lyrics earned her a record deal with RCA and an appearance on the hugely popular ‘Colors’ Youtube platform.
Her melodies are frequently laced with softly spoken Spanish wordplay that gently tug at your heartstrings. And that’s the thing, language isn’t a barrier to the world that is being broadcast by the Irish-born artist, if anything it’s reflective of how piercing her music is. Expect a moody, intimate show detailing the tales of love and loss of a 20 something year old.
Cosby Tent, Saturday 17.15
As Irish hip hop’s increasingly diverse sound pallet expands, Waterford’s Alex Gough brings a refreshing dose of funk to everything he touches. There’s a quiet confidence in the understated approach the young rapper has to his music. However this goes out the window when his inexhaustible drumming is paired with his energetic flow on stage.
Fresh off the back of arguably his best work to-date – ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Step To Me’, the seasoned percussionist will be flexing his lyrical abilities alongside the rest of his band at Three Made By Music.
Three Made By Music, Friday 18.55
With a recent debut London show under his belt, the assured confidence that shapes the backbone of JyellowL’s performances will be at an all time high at the Three Made By Music stage this weekend.
The young MC’s intricate wordplay and ear for musicality would satisfy even the pickiest hip hop head and his most recent releases ‘OZONE’ and ‘Tek Time’ showcase his trademark rapid fire flow. His charismatic performances have cemented his place as one of Irish hip hop’s established entertainers.
Three Made By Music, Saturday 23.45
To use the term influential would be a disservice to these Irish hip hop pioneers. The first Irish hip hop act to be signed to a major record deal, their trad and punk-infused content touches on the bleakest days of 90s Ireland – laying the foundations for many of the other homegrown artists present on this year’s lineup.
They played their first show in years to a sold out crowd in The Sugar Club on Paddy’s Day and they’ve linked up again for a rare performance at Salty Dog.
Salty Dog, Friday 01.00
There is an alarming amount of stamina and balance in South London MC Flohio’s approach. Her aggressive cuts coupled with her commanding aura has resulted in a ferocious trajectory in 2019. A carefully crafted blend of dizzying synths, running high hats and high BPM production never slips away from the BBC Sound Of 2019 nominee.
Flohio does everything at her own pace and her concise, sharp wordplay cuts through much of hip hop’s current flippant content. Her live performances are something to behold and with one of the liveliest DJ/ hype men in the rap game alongside her, brace yourself for the subsequent mosh pits. Click here to pick up Issue 006 featuring Flohio on the cover.
Body&Soul, Friday 01.30
2019 has been a massive year for Belfast’s rowdiest rap trio. Steadily shaking up the status quo of what it means to be a hip hop artist in Ireland, the Buckfast-fuelled antics of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí have steadily packed out festival tents this summer.
Their modern take on the Irish language has earned them a cult following and their onstage energy has resulted in sold out shows nationwide. Their nonchalant, no fuck’s given attitude and trademark bangers are on display at Terminus this weekend, you have to experience them live to get a full understanding of what the commotion is about.
Terminus, Saturday 18.45
There’s another wave of buzz surrounding Dublin duo Mango x MathMan ahead of their debut album ‘Casual Work’. It’s been quietly teased on social media and the latest single ‘No Surrender F.M.’ has continued their crusade to rep everything Dublin.
The pair are no stranger to festival stages in Ireland and they routinely incite riotous responses to their grime-inspired heaters. Catch them shredding the stage at Body&Soul this weekend.
Body&Soul, Saturday 21.45
Click here for more info on Electric Picnic 2019.