Longitude regularly boasts a star-studded lineup and 2019 was no different. The incremental move towards a hip hop heavy lineup was solidified this year with almost solely rap artists.
Despite the high profile cancellations from A$AP Rocky, Chance The Rapper and Lil Uzi Vert, the festival delivered a hoard of scintillating performances.
Giving a platform to only a handful of Irish hip hop artists, who were generally overshadowed through no fault of their own by more established international artists, the festival could’ve benefitted from allowing more complimentary scheduling to the homegrown artists.
Despite this, hoards of festival goer’s expectations for the more prominent international counterparts were no doubt met.
Tricolour wielding, Belfast trio Kneecap lit up a rammed Heineken Stage on the inaugural day of the festival. Mo Chara and Móglaí Bap tore up the stage with Buckfast in hand despite the embarrassing sound quality of the stage that persisted through the day. Their lyrics were screamed back at them relieving the technical issues, exemplified by the persistent cries of your “sniffer dogs are shite”.
This was a truly odds defying performance; stationed on a stage at 3:30 in the afternoon, faced with poor sound, the threesome took it in their stride whipping their tops off to chants of “Ole Ole Ole Ole”. Their rave inspired remixes of festival favourite tunes were mosh pit inducing and their stage presence was electrifying. Despite the tongue and cheek nature of much of their content, the true camaraderie shone through, only endearing them even more to their cult following.
With the highly anticipated ‘Revenge Of The Dreamers’ collaborative album dropping the day of his Longitude performance, Atlanta bred JID was coming into his set with high expectations. One of a crop of talented artists signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville label, the rapid fire MC didn’t disappoint.
The crowd was bouncing start to finish and this was owed much to his relentless flow and infectious hooks. There was no pause to the antics and his rhymes effortlessly rolled off the tongue as his chain dangled round his neck. Performing Costa Rica for the first time anywhere resulted in an already manic crowd roaring in hysteria.
Sliding across the stage, Off Deez and 151 Rum maintained the ludicrous energy at the packed Heineken Stage. The result was numerous sweat ridden t-shirts and bruised moshers.
Despite rising to prominence in his late twenties one can’t help but think the rapper is only coming into his own now; for those present they got to witness a potential superstar entering his prime.
Having his set pushed to after 3pm allowed festival goers to take shelter from the rain with one of Ireland’s most exciting newcomers. Bringing an eclectic mix of artists with him, Nealo provided warm vocals and an assured performance.
Crowd favourite Just My Luck had the front rows crying the lyrics back to the Clonsilla MC as he raced across the floor of the Heineken Stage. Nealo brings his own take on hip hop and the jazz inspired instrumentation was executed beautifully by INNRSPACE.
Bringing out God Knows of Rusangano Family had the crowd bouncing; the Limerick spitter’s energy helped juxtapose the softer tracks that had preceded it.
Despite the early slot and miserable weather, Nealo drew a strong crowd and demonstrated why he is one of the most exciting prospects in Ireland’s growing rap scene.
Portland raised Aminé entered the Heineken Stage to absolutely ear-deafening screams. With a discography of summer anthems and the crowd’s insatiable desire for bangers, this performance was a match made in heaven.
The crowd was fully energised for the whole performance moshing while Amine himself cut a more laidback figure on stage wearing a 94 World Cup Ireland top.
The fishing related memes were relentlessly actualized through his visuals and the crowd may as well have been tinned sardines given how packed the tent was. Hit single Reel It In brought continuity to this theme and featured his trademark nonchalant flows. The west coast spitter’s more emotive rendition of Caroline won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Off the back of his iconic Glastonbury set, Croydon MC Stormzy had been drafted in to replace Chance The Rapper for the Saturday Main Stage spot. Coming out in an Ireland football shirt was the start of his charm offensive to win over the crowd.
His approach to his set was methodical, ramping up the energy with songs like Mr Skeng; screams of “Where my energy crew at?” were met with an increasingly enthused crowd. Grime’s poster boy utilised fire cannons and heated visuals when performing Scary, raising the literal and metaphorical temperature of the crowd.
Those still unconvinced by the growing buzz were drawn into a singalong with the remix of Shape Of You and by this point there was a solid trust created between Stormzy and the audience.
Sweat dripping from his head and the crowd fully onside at this point, the energy went through the roof when he exclaimed “I’m so happy Chance The Rapper cancelled”. A no longer timid curiosity for his hits evolved into widespread chants of “Vossi Bop” to which he responded.
Reloading the track twice led to absolute bedlam, with moshing and gun fingers abundant. Breakout track Shut Up and Big For Your Boots sustained the vibe as the sun was setting; ensuring everyone forgot that Chance was ever supposed to play. Fireworks and Blinded By Your Grace elegantly closed the set, confirming the star status for anyone previously undecided.
Kicking off the main stage in the unforgiving first slot of a scorching Sunday afternoon, Why-axis was joined by Good Buzz Collective overcoming some early sound issues with the confidence of a seasoned pro.
Engaging in some back and forth chanting before racing into an energetic performance helped out by Khakhi Kiid, who took it upon himself to start a mosh pit before bouncing back on stage. It’s easy for one to drown in an early main stage set with many a bigger band pissing tunes into the wind before him. However his funk-infused anthems coupled with his commanding stage presence insured he had no such problems. Turn Around being the highlight of the set.
Nine8 collective member and Irish native Biig Piig graced the relatively subdued elevation stage at 8pm on Sunday. Despite clashing with Vince Staples and Future she drew a committed crowd that created an intimate atmosphere. This ambience was enchanted by her support band which consisted of a couple of multi instrumentalists.
Performing cuts from ‘A World Without Snooze Volume 1 & 2,’ the slow burning delivery was complimented by the lo-fi beats. It was a family affair as her cousins and brothers were in the crowd to support. Effortlessly switching between Spanish and English she closed out the set with Perdida to her attentive crowd, engrossed in her soulful delivery and elegant presence.
Looking like the first boyband to step foot on the moon and equipped with reflective boiler suits; Brockhampton stormed the Main Stage to enthusiastic cries from their cult following.
Borrowing elements from 90’s boybands, the Texas six-piece all shone individually with songs like Sweet wetting the appetite for more of their N.E.R.D.-inspired anthems. The auto-tune croons of front man Kevin Abstract resulted in utter enchantment of the crowd throughout the emotive Bleach including an acapella encore.
The boys left their mark on the festival, sending the crowd into bedlam with the aptly-named closer Boogie.
Vince is no-bullshit, no-frills personified – the west-coast MC had nobody to lean on throughout his set, having no visible hype-man or DJ.
Vince left the crowd with no time to breathe between back- to-back bangers like Opps and Norf Norf. The hilarious TV set visuals providing a bizarre look into what your childhood would have been like with Vince Staples starring in all your favourite shows.
Closing out the Main Stage on the final night of the festival was the confident Cardi B. Her outrageous breath control ensured that she didn’t miss a bar. Needing no assistance from her backing tracks, the New York MC provided one of the most accomplished performances of the weekend.
Playing hit after hit, the bi-lingual rapper maintained incredible energy without breaking a sweat. Tracks such as I Like It coupled with intense visuals and blue flamethrowers provided an explosive edge.
Her sultry choreography and relentless delivery captivated a crowd with grand expectations. The only original surviving headliner demonstrated why she is so highly sought after across the globe.
Despite major cancellations, sound issues on the Heineken Stage and the weather threatening to turn on the Saturday, Longitude more or less lived up to expectations. The fact that Irish acts drew sizeable crowds at early set times demonstrates the growing popularity of the genre within the emerald isle. No longer seen as a gimmick; Irish rap artists are considered contemporaries and more than hold their own in arguably the world’s most popular genre.
From the autotuned cries of JuiceWorld to the delicate falsettos of Biig Piig, Longitude served up a plethora of engaging hip hop and RnB artists that only whet sunburnt festival goers’ appetite for more.