Something is wrong with the 2018 Wireless Festival line-up
Written by Karan Teli
The 2018 Wireless Festival line-up turned some heads. While some of the highlights include London’s own Stormzy headlining Saturday; a real testament to how far Grime has come as a genre, everyone wondering exactly who DJ Khaled’s ‘friends’ are and are array of ‘Soundcloud’ rappers all over the line-up, there is one thing that stands out most above others; the lack of female talent on display.
Wireless have stated that more acts are to be announced, as is every year. But as of now, 3 women. Cardi B, Mabel and Lisa Mercedez. Considering the range of female talent splattered all over the industry, both overseas and UK’s very own talent, this is a slap in the face to say the LEAST. Wireless has received backlash before due to the lack of females on display; last year the entire line-up consisted of 5 females among 3 days. But, even this a new low. There has already been backlash on social media from fans and industry figures. Lily Allen took to Twitter (supported by BBC’s Annie Mac and artist MNEK) to upload the line-up with only the female names on display; it was practically an empty sheet. There really are questions that need answering.
Let’s start with the overseas talent. Where is SZA? Not many artists, male or female, had a better, more successful year than TDE’S first lady. Releasing one of 2017’s best projects and being the leading female nominee at the 2018 Grammys was not good enough to warrant a Wireless Festival spot. What about Kali Uchis? An R&B star who is growing on a daily basis, selling out her own show in London in March, with an album on the way. Wireless would have been a perfect stage for an artist like Kali.
Khelani, Jhene Aiko, H.E.R, Syd, Kelela. These are all artists who are performing sold out, headline shows within London at some point in 2018. Clearly the fan base is strong enough to warrant a spot at Wireless.
But, all of this is nothing compared to the UK snubs. Where is Jorja Smith? One of UK’s biggest 2017 stars, appearing twice on More Life, taking inspiration from garage to release one of 2017’s best songs with ‘On My Mind’, working on her debut album to be released in Summer; just before Wireless Festival. Snubbed.
Stefflon Don. IAMDDB. These are some of UK’s best rappers. Not female rappers; rappers. IAMDDB, who is the opening act for Jhene Aiko on her UK tour, is destined for a huge 2018, while Stefflon Don was supported by Apple Music as one of their ‘Up Next’ for 2018, but no Wireless Festival appearance in sight.
Lil Simz, the ‘Stillness in Wonderland’ rapper, who managed to do a headline tour of America and open up for Gorillaz on a nightly basis was snubbed from an appearance at her hometown festival.
The list goes on and on. Wireless Festival; the biggest London festival every year has a chance to promote some of the best home-grown talent. There is still time to add more female talent to the line-up. I do expect to see some of the names mentioned above to be included, but right here, right now; Wireless has dropped the ball.