Slowthai incites Reading’s first ever swear-off during set of ferocious pant rap

The Northampton rapper was keen to advertise his own-brand underwear too

We’ve had walls of death. We’ve had human pyramids. We’ve had naked crowdsurfers and mass shirt-twirls. But has Reading ever had a four-team swear off? “Team A, you shout ‘fuck off!’,” Slowthai insists, “Team B, you shout ‘suck my cock!’” It’s never made clear how one might win such a contest, or if it’s just there as a metaphor for all online discussion about Brexit. But then not much is clear about Slowthai’s feverish Saturday afternoon Radio One Stage set, blazing by, as it does, in a blur of ampheta-rap sloganeering and underworld anger.

Slowthai live at Reading 2019

Pausing only to start, with the drill sergeant cry of “run, you cunts!”, two separate circle pits revolving in opposite directions, or to advertise his promotional Slowthai underwear to the screen cameras, Northampton’s social canary delivers a flame-thrower half hour of ferocious pant rap. Duly stripped to his grundies, he rhymes and roars in relentless barrage about drug dealers (‘Drug Dealer’), icing rivals before tea with his nan (‘GTFOMF’) and generally not giving a fuck (‘IDGAF’): whatever portrait of modern Britain is buried beneath the tumult, it’s a brutal, uncaring, volatile and confrontational one. Sounds about right.


Slowthai does well to inject some humanity and humour into proceedings, reminding the “mandem” in the crowd “you’ve gotta make a girl come or somebody else will – I’ll be that guy” and getting a bloke called Luke onstage for ‘Inglorious’ in what’s becoming a standard festival rap set attempt to “do a Dave”. It ends with an orchestral rap fireball of an unreleased track that promises greater things to come too. Let me hear you say “wankers!”

Check back at NME for the latest news, review, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2019.


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