Fans of hip-hop and rock have never been the best of buddies, but attempts by music fest chiefs to bring the two tribes together has sparked ugly incidents in Blighty.
When rapper Lethal Bizzle recently appeared at heavy-metal event Download, he was not only pelted by bottles but also subjected to a rain of racial abuse. Among objects thrown at him were a toy monkey and a banana skin with a racist insult written on it.
“The bottles I could deal with, but the racist abuse was totally unacceptable,” he told the Independent. “I know it was just a small minority of fans and I’m trying not to paint all rock fans with the same brush, but some hard questions need to be asked.”
Bizzle has attempted to bridge the gap between the two worlds as one of the pioneers of the “grindie” scene, which combines rapping with punk and rock samples, and he thought he had won over the crowd by the end of the 30-minute set.
Audience numbers have been flagging at some fests. Glastonbury, which starts on June 27, sold out in a matter of hours last year, but this year tickets are still on sale after 10 weeks and the organizers have resorted to selling 10,000 tickets through retail chain HMV. Bringing in hip-hop acts such as Jay-Z at Glastonbury is seen as one way to broaden events’ appeal beyond the hard core of white rockers.
But it may be a while before hip-hop artists get a warm welcome.
Bizzle says, “Just before my last song, I noticed a banana skin on the ground. I picked it up and read what was inside and just thought ‘Oh my God.’ I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and just threw it down, but the rest of my band were fuming.”