So, just how good will M.I.A.'s Meltdown be? We've opted for life-changing. Here's 10 reasons why.
Performer, composer, artist, activist: above all, she’s the musical revolutionary who’s changed London’s sonic landscape forever. Ever wanted to do the dance to Paper Planes with 2,000 other people on the bank of the Thames? (By the way, Royal Festival Hall might have seats but you can still boogie up a storm in the aisles).
From the groundbreaking global sounds of Arular to the niqab-wearing stunt drivers in the Bad Girls video, M.I.A. has always been ahead of the curve. Her Meltdown mix-tape brings together the artists she’s tipping as the sound of things to come – and only fuels our suspicion that she’s secretly psychic.
M.I.A.’s been the spokesperson for issues including civil unrest in Sri Lanka, the London riots and Donald Trump’s administration. Her chosen line-up are outspoken about everything from identity politics (Young Fathers) to the refugee crisis (Afrikan Boy). We’re pretty sure the revolution will arrive through the medium of dance (and don’t forget to catch an afternoon of music for Refugee Week).
Viral hits, chart-topping singles, underground sounds: this is your chance to hear the most intriguing new voices of a generation. Open your auricles to the catchy tunes of Afrikan Boy, the playful soundscapes of Young Fathers, the gruff grime of Giggs, and the smash-hit singles of Young M.A. Or try the trippy experiments of Yung Lean, the pulsing empowerment of Princess Nokia, and the fetish rap of Tommy Genesis (no, we don’t know what that is either).
You might have heard of them as 2ManyDJs or Radio Soulwax, but whatever this week’s snappy moniker is, Soulwax get dancefloors jumping with blistering dance music. Join the party, or get down to the afro-trap beats of French sensation MHD. Finally, Crystal Castles invite you to groove to their poppy electronica. You just have to decide who’s bringing the glowsticks.
Get on your glad rags and plan to stay late as Dexta Daps and I Wayne offer a night of the most alluring rhythms that have ever been heard in Royal Festival Hall. Up-and-coming Jamaican singjay Dexta Daps is followed by roots artist I Wayne, known for his socially conscious lyrics. Apply incisive logic to the issues in the queue to the bar. Find out more about Dexta Daps and I Wayne.
With a recent YouGov poll showing that nearly half of young people in the UK say they’re not straight, it’s clear that the future is getting queerer. Explode your understanding of gender and sexuality with hip-hop sensation Young M.A, alternative force of nature Princess Nokia, underground rapper Tommy Genesis, dance punk rebel JD Samson and multi-gendered rap artiste Mykki Blanco. Unfortunately we can’t guarantee they’ll sign your copy of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
Raw, weird, and said to be changing the face of American music, Awful Records are a quasi-family of musical misfits from Atlanta, Georgia. The experimental collective are taking over The Clore Ballroom for a two-hour rave that promises to reveal the magic behind the hype. Apparently the group ‘like to party and make art’ – just like Southbank Centre’s team, so we’re hoping they’ll let us join.
We know how it is – you’ve gathered your mates for a day in the sunshine but you don’t want to open your wallet. Luckily we’re laying on a selection of free events that last all afternoon, including a samba-fuelled Carnival Party, a Block Party with Rinse FM and a South Asian Meltdown Mela. We also have an evening of Hip-Hop Karaoke, if you’ve always wanted to share your rendition of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s Summertime.
Whether you’re a Young M.A fan, devoted to Soulwax, or setting out to try something new, you’ll spend your evening soaking up extraordinary sounds in the heart of London, alongside the most discerning music fans in the capital (if we may say so). Grab a bite in one of our cafes and restaurants, take in the glorious view from our outdoor terrace and rest easy about your transport home (with numerous bus and tube links, we’re very well connected). Get ready to prick up your ears, sing along to your favourite lyrics and dance the hours away at this year’s Meltdown.