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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russell Brand makes an appearance at the People's March for the NHS  

If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it

Mark Steel
George Bush Snr and his adviser Lee Atwater  

Perception is reality: The facts won't matter in next year's general election

Simon Kelner
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain