Always one of the highlights on London’s summer calendar, Wireless Festival has a knack for reinventing itself and staying ahead of the curve where other festivals are content to keep booking the same identikit lineups.
Bringing the best of the US and UK scenes together for the weekend, this year’s headliners are Skepta, The Weeknd and Chance the Rapper, with Nas, Wiley, Tory Lanez, Young Thug and Section Boyz just some of the other highlights.
Looking beyond the biggest names on the poster, the lineup is bursting with fresh talent all the way down, so let’s have a look and pick out some of the key sets you won’t want to miss.
1. Stefflon Don
Having recently inked a £1.2 million deal with Polydor, 2017 seems set to be the year that Stefflon Don catapults herself to international success. Born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents, then growing up in both Rotterdam and London, her dancehall-infused rap mixes global pop appeal with the hard edge of the UK scene. Co-signs from the likes of Drake and DJ Khaled have done much to raise Steff’s profile but her hard work getting to this point cannot be denied. Released last year, her Real Ting mixtape encapsulates all her many strengths – fierce lyricism, forceful delivery and ability to switch up genres. Expect her Wireless set to act like a coronation.
2. Abra Cadabra
Abra Cadabra is the most exciting name in an increasingly crowded UK rap scene. It helps that he possesses a standout instrument – his rasping, apocalyptic voice, which lends an air of steely authority to his street tales. You’ll already know his biggest hit to date, the all-conquering ‘Robbery’ – a track so good that he managed to get Krept & Konan on the remix. Now sitting at over 10 million views and the deserving recipient of a MOBO for Best Song, but it’s far from the only weapon in his arsenal, as afrobeats-tinged collaborations with the likes of Belly Squad have shown he can master numerous styles. Expect his Wireless set to have the highest energy levels of the whole weekend – you need to be there to see him shut down Finsbury Park.
One of Wireless’ strengths over the past few years has been giving a platform to American artists who are yet to make it truly big this side of the Atlantic. Enter Chicago rapper Noname, whose richly poetic lyrics and conversational flow have already endeared her to a swelling fanbase. Having first risen to prominence through collaborations with the likes of Mick Jenkins and Chance the Rapper (who headlines the Friday), her debut mixtape Telefone was released last year, and capitalised on all her early promise as a solo artist in her own right. We’ll be hanging on every word at her Wireless set this year.
4. Bugzy Malone
If the media’s London-centric grime spotlight has started to shift, Manchester MC Bugzy Malone is one of the artists who’s responsible for that. Having released his debut mixtape back in 2010, he’s been helping push the genre forward ever since, scoring two Top 10 EPs in the process. His relatable narratives and powerful, measured delivery have seen him build a huge following and, with that Chip beef firmly in the rearview, he seems ready to push on to even greater heights. His performance at last year’s festival felt like a real moment, and we’re confident he’s going to be one of the highlights again.
Operating firmly in his own lane, this north London MC has picked up quite a following over the past couple of years, leading to collaborations with the likes of Mist, J Hus and Tinie Tempah. A master storyteller, MoStack’s mix of sung hooks and hard bars is a winning combination. Expect to hear signature hits like ‘No Buddy’, ‘Block Popping’ and ‘Liar Liar’ at Wireless this summer.
Wireless 2017 takes place at Finsbury Park, London, 7-9 July. Last tickets available here.