Watchlist Wednesdays: Hip Hop Festivals 2016

By Anton Constantinou - @Aberrantin

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Watchlist Wednesdays is a variation on the usual Think Ahead Tuesdays theme. It brings news of new hip hop tracks/ gigs/ films, as well as hot gossip

It’s festival season. Yes, that time of year has rolled around again. Every summer, millions of us around the world gather to drink, smoke and cut shapes in fields, parks, on beaches, or, if you’re feeling brave, the Nevada desert.

There’s day festivals, packing some 40 + acts into a tight 10 hour slot; parties in the mountains; raving on the Japanese coastline. For the more sophisticated among us, there’s performance art, comedy and literary talks to be had. And then there’s the full-on camping fests we all know and love like Reading, Glastonbury and Leeds.

But with so many different ones to choose from – and each costing a fair bit – settling one or two can often prove difficult.  To help you hunt down the best hip hop this summer, Highlight Nation have hand selected a few festivals in particular which put rap right at the forefront of what they’re about. Here’s are our top favourites:

Hip Hop Kemp- Czech Republic, 18th- 20th August


An old communist era airfield offers the perfect environment for this 3 day fest in East Bohemia, which, in its 14 year span has attracted some of the most well respected names in hip hop, including Mobb Deep, The Roots and Foreign Beggars.

Every August, 20,000+ visitors show out to jam to over 96 hours of live hip hop across 8 packed stages.

This year’s top acts are a close guarded secret, but, judging the pixelated images and gossip on Facebook, it looks as if Pete Rock & Cl Smooth and Boot Camp Clik (minus Sean Price) might headlining. And for £50 it’s a bargain.

Splash!- Germany, 8th- 10th July


Another 3 days of rapping, beatboxing and graffiting, this time in Gräfenhainichen, Germany.

Formely held in an reservoir near Chemnitz, the festival now takes its place among the rusty mining machinery of Ferropolis: a outdoor museum, also known as the city of iron. Visitors are invited camp it out, swim in an open water,  and get down and dirty in one of the most rustic locations yet.

This year’s headliners include Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, with big support on offer from Action Bronson, Anderson ASAP Ferg and Anderson Paak.

Openair Frauenfeld- Switzerland, 7th- 9th July


Switzerland’s premier open-air festival may be a day either side of Splash, but at only a border- cross away, it’s worth combining the two.

2015’s big names were Kendrick Lamar, Cypress Hill, The Roots, and Ludacris. This year is just as impressive. Leading from the front are J Cole and 50 Cent, along with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

A 3 standard pass starts at £230, with premium tent/ loft packages available for those on a more generous budget.

Boom Bap Festival- UK, 29th- 31st July


The UK’s only dedicated hip hop festival brings together some the best mainstream as well underground artists in the game, past and present, which a special emphasis on local, homegrown talent.

Now on its 5th Year, the Suffolk based music event  will this year see visits from Pharoahe Monch, RA the Rugged Man, Jam Baxter, Task Force and Fliptrix.

But for those in search of music other than hip hop, there’s Jungle, DnB, Soul, Funk and Reggae to found across the various stages.

Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival- USA, July 13th- 16th


What better place to take in hip hop than its birthplace. Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival is New York’s biggest rap cultural event, which offers panel discussions and exhibitions, not to mention an award show and block party.

As much a festival for families as single groups, it dedicates itself entirely to the positive aspects of hip hop, and as such continues to attract socially conscious rhyme writers like  Big Daddy Kane, Homeboy Sandman and Monie Love.

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