Reading & Leeds are bulging with the world's best rap and hip-hop acts this year, so we made you a shortlist...
Reading: Saturday, Main Stage, 15:20 – 15:55
Leeds: Sunday, Main Stage, 15:05 – 15:40
West London’s AJ Tracey has the flows to make you forget about your muddy toes. The 25-year-old has already played Wireless, Transmit and Glastonbury this summer, and his live shows brim with confidence. From the dance-y club track ‘Ladbroke Grove’, to the grunge-y grime-like ‘Doing It’, you’ll find something to get moving to.
Reading: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 16:30 – 17:00
Leeds: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 14:35 – 15:15
Tiffany Calver was Drake’s DJ at the Canadian rapper’s 02 residency in April, and is the reason the likes of DigDat and Russ have had time on stage with the great man himself. As such she is the most talked about DJ in the UK right now, and can chop and screw garage, house, grime and ’90s hip-hop so seamlessly it’ll blow your mind.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1 Stage, 20:10 – 20:50
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1 Stage, 20:45 – 21:30
Birmingham-born Stefflon Don can do it all: dance, sing, rap. And she’ll get you moving too with her tunes that range from dancehall, (a nod to her Jamaican heritage), and grime. The 27-year-old delivers fun and good vibes with tracks like ‘Hurtin Me’ and ‘Senseless’, which will both have waists spinning.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1 Stage, 18:00 – 18:40
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1 Stage, 18:40 – 19:20
There’s huge buzz around Compton’s Roddy Ricch right now, thanks mostly to his melodic and super catchy single ‘Die Young’. His young UK fans will know every song word for word, and being in a crowd with that much love is a powerful thing.
Reading: Friday, Radio 1 Stage, 22:45 – 23:25
Leeds: Saturday, Radio 1 Stage, 22:15 – 23:00
Dave is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest and most exciting rappers in the UK right now. You’ve seen his viral Glastonbury performance, so maybe it’s your turn to have an #AlexFromGlasto moment at Reading & Leeds this year. If you’d rather just stay in the crowd, Dave will have an intimate performance in store for you.
Reading: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 18:45 – 19:25
Leeds: Saturday, stage, 16:25 – 16:55
DigDat went from ‘trapping’ and living a dangerous lifestyle to being on stage with Drake at his O2 residency back in April. After the success of his breakthrough single ‘Air Force’ in August 2018, he is not only the future of drill, but also UK rap. You should definitely get your Air Forces creased at DigDat’s set.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra stage, 14:00 – 14:30
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1Xtra stage, 14:05 – 14:35
DaniLeigh’s single ‘Lil Bebe’ went viral in summer 2018, so expect to see people laying down some moves at her set. Her voice is distinct, and her dancers and outfits add to the whole experience. Go see her!
Reading: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 18:00 – 18:30
Leeds: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 15:35 – 16:05
For all you ragers out there, this is the set for you. East St. Louis’ Comethazine is a man known for harsh, impaling beats and cocksure lyrics, and his cocky demeanour on tunes like ‘Walk’ will bring out the aggression in you. If you just don’t give a fuck, and you want to jump about in a mosh, get to the 1Xtra Stage.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:55 – 21:45
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1 Xtra Stage, 20:45 – 21:25
The ludicrously good south London rapper, Octavian, is full of exuberance. In recent months he’s become quite a hot shot (supporting Travis Scott at the o2, modelling for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion week), and you’d be a fool to miss him. His electric sounds with his eccentric moves make his performance unique. He’s an always moving, always grooving machine.
Reading: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:45 – 21:25
Leeds: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 18:05 – 18:40
This is not the north Londoner’s first rodeo. After splitting from his rap partner AJ, Deno has been touring Europe all summer, and knows how to control a crowd with high energy and utterly infectious songs. Tunes like ‘Pumpy’ and ‘Advice’ are major floor-fillers.
Reading: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 22:45 – 23:30
Leeds: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:00 – 20:45
The one-time N-Dubz singer has been going strong since the group’s split in 2011. . Expect N-Dubz classics like ‘Girls’, as well as newer bops like 2018 comeback single ‘Oh My’, and crowd surfing.
Reading: Friday, Main Stage, 16:20 – 17:05
Leeds: Saturday, Main Stage, 15:50 – 16:35
This Chicagoan is a need-to-see. Juice WRLD‘s emo-rap blends the sounds he grew up, combining the energetic vocals of a rock artist with lo-fi rap beats. His biggest single, ‘Lucid Dreams’, will have you screaming your heart out. Good for a little soul-cleansing.
Reading: Sunday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:45 – 21:25
Leeds: Friday, stage, 21:15 – 21:50
DaBaby’s lives shows have an almost comical element to them, just like his lyrics. He might wear a costume, he might just do some silly gestures, and only a fool would miss out on seeing the ‘Suge’ rapper.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:10 – 20:45
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 19:50 – 20:30
This London rap duo are in such high demand they had to shut down the Pepsi Max Stage at Wireless this year because of overcrowding, and it’s this love from the audience that makes their live shows special. Get to the Radio 1Xtra Stage extra early.
Reading: Sunday, Radio 1 Stage, 17:55 – 18:35
Leeds: Friday, stage, 17:50 – 18:25
He can sing, he can rap, and has hits on top of hits. He also raps over trap beats full of jumpy hi-hats, and he will have you swaying.
Reading: Saturday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 15:55 – 16:25
Leeds: Sunday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 15:45 – 16:15
The 19-year-old Mancunian’s music has had the UK moving and shaking. His latest single ‘Taste’ is, as we write, Number Four on the UK Singles Chart, and he’s created a huge buzz for himself ever since featuring on the remix of drill artist Russ’ ‘Keisha & Becky’. ‘Taste’, and his collaboration with Young T x Bugsey ‘Strike A Pose’, are both influenced by afro-swing (a mixture of afrobeats and dancehall) and Latin music. This is sunshine music!
Reading: Sunday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 19:55 – 20:25
Leeds: Friday, Radio 1Xtra Stage, 20:15 – 20:50
A special group: hyper-active, hypnotic, mosh-pit destroyers. Get into it.