Kanye West has every right to be headlining Glastonbury

An alarming number of people seemingly want to Muse for two hours, while even more worryingly some think hip-hop doesn't have a place at a festival at all

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The Independent Online

It's Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Not Glastonbury Festival of Rock. Not Glastonbury Festival of 'Proper Music'. Not Glastonbury Festival of Stick Your Head in the Sand and Live Forever as a White Guy in 2004.

This fact seemed to elude tens of thousands of ticket holders this week, who proved the idea of the festival being a place for 'like-minded people' to be true, but in the worst way possible.

An odious Change.org petition sought for Kanye West's headline slot to be cancelled in favour of a rock act with a higher "level of entertainment". This struck me as odd given that even at his most irksome Kanye is nothing if not entertaining – the type of rapper who'll pause mid-song to deliver a 25-minute rant on how suede moccasins are an insidious plot by the establishment to subjugate the rest of the population.

"He's an ultimate d*ckhead," one petitioner wailed, "he's a pants" another said somewhat confusingly. Whatever you think of Kanye as a person (he is fully aware that his temper and ego are his biggest failings), as an artist he has contributed an extraordinary amount over the last decade or so, making ambitious, challenging music, inspiring others to do so, and possessing a healthy disgust for lazy mainstream music (usually something cherished by Glastonbury-goers).

If the angry petitioners had been able to stop strumming Wonderwall for a minute and delve into Kanye's discography they would have realised that he doesn't make "trash" and actually has all the requisite characteristics of a Glasto headliner - being iconic, having a vast back catalogue and knowing how to put on a supernova of a live show.

The absurdity of the campaign was compounded in its suggestions for replacements. "I want real artists to headline Glastonbury and not someone like Kanye West who is not an artist, but a stupid dickhead. How about Slipknot, Metallica or Muse?" one signee said, citing three artists who have been phoning it in for merch sales for years. Other ideas included Coldplay, Pearl Jam and (probably) Jeremy Clarkson.

More worrying than these self-professed music connoisseurs' ignorance of an influential artist however was their dismissal of hip-hop at Glastonbury in general.

"I pay to go to Glasto to get away from people singing N***** this and N***** that," one refund-demander blustered.

In America, hip-hop is a major part of major festivals and rappers sit comfortably on eclectic bills next to aging rockers and hip psych rock band. Black music is alive and well at the UK's largest festivals, but often exiled to the bottom of the bill. I hope their organisers continue to book rappers on main stages in spite of the criticism, if just to make these fantastic idiots launching e-petitions broaden their horizons.

 

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