Andy Cowan: Noises Off

Don't be a stick-in-the-mud, Noel. Jay-Z will be a hit at Glastonbury

Share
Related Topics

The fuss over the news that Jay-Z is to headline this year's Glastonbury festival has caught me by surprise. When I first heard, I thought Jay-Z was a natural fit – the world's biggest hip-hop star at the UK's most forward-thinking music festival. Noel Gallagher disagreed: "Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music... I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury," he said. "It's wrong." As a hip-hop fan, that struck a nerve with me. So when the BBC asked me for a comment, I gave them a quick, equally ill-considered quote: "These are the typical reactionary views of a pampered has-been." It's not that I have a problem with Noel or Oasis, it's just that I can't stand such monomania in the broad church of modern music.

The next day, I awoke to an in-box full of emails from irate Oasis fans; many reiterated Noel's point, that Glastonbury was about "indie rock" and nothing but, and how dare that big scary bogeyman Jay-Z spoil their beautiful garden party? Their response exposed one myth: that the old tribes of pop have all but dispersed, making way for a generation of technologically savvy, cosmopolitan consumers who cherry-pick the finest sounds from any number of contrasting genres. The furore also prompts a bigger question: is the Jay-Z row a storm in a teacup, or symptomatic of a far deeper malaise?

The hostility you see on the NME message boards – "we don't need this hip-hop wank" ran one posting – is hard to explain. Perhaps it's simply the prospect for "indie rock" fans that Jay-Z's appearance will force them out of their comfort zone. Or perhaps, as Emily Eavis, the co-organiser of this year's Glastonbury, alluded to in The Independent on Tuesday, at the heart of this row may be something more troubling than differences in musical taste: race. It would be interesting to know what the reaction would be if it weren't Jay-Z headlining, but Eminem.

British festival audiences have had their musical tolerance tested in the past, and found it wanting. In 2004, when 50 Cent (right) and his G-Unit crew played Reading, they were viciously bottled by a braying mob (don't take my word for it, go to YouTube). 50 was remarkably sanguine about it. "That was fun," he laughed. "It reminded me of when I first started. How do you react to it? You start to take it all in while you're up there and laugh – what are you going to do, get mad?"

That was an exception, and I don't think it'll happen to Jay-Z this year. His show isn't full of the cheesy rituals that you normally get in a hip-hop show: he's very

focused. He knows how to whip up a lethargic crowd with nothing but his superstar presence. But he's also part of a tradition in hip-hop of audience interaction – as opposed to the kind of rock gig where a band will play a song, wait for the applause, and carry on, often without so much as an aside to the crowd between songs. In contrast, Jay-Z will pick a member of the audience and rap straight to them for a minute at a time. It gives his shows a laser-beam intensity, and if people can approach it with an open mind, his appearance at Glastonbury will win a lot of converts. (One of the highlights of last year's festival was Dizzee Rascal joining the Arctic Monkeys on stage.)

The boy from Brooklyn's cause will be helped by the fact that, like the Arctic Monkeys, he understands the power of the special guest appearance. Last year at the Royal Albert Hall, Jay-Z brought on stage Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow. How fitting it would be if hip-hop's biggest act issued an invitation to indie-rock's pin-up boy at Glastonbury in June.

Andy Cowan is editor of the magazine 'Hip-Hop Connection'

Do you have an issue to raise in Noises Off? Email us at: noisesoff@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks