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In its inaugural year The Ends Festival ticked all the boxes possible. From the artists involved on the bill, the weather and the location, Croydon was well and truly spoiled. With headliners Nas, WizKid and Damian Marley bossing the main stage and a plethora of talent available on The Ends & Friends stage, the festival offered a celebration of all things hip hop, rap, grime, reggae, Afrobeat and dancehall.
With the Future Sounds Stage where competition winners would get their chance to shine, The FootAsylum bus complete with dancers strutting their stuff, fairground rides and much, much more, here’s what we learned from our trip to the The Ends Festival 2019.
Croydon State of Mind
With up and coming talent kicking off the festival, including DJ Rachel Anson, Nadia Rose, Kojey Radical and more, the day immediately launched into a flying start. With perfect sunshine playing its part and plenty of food and drink flowing, The Ends had this dialled.
Moving on into the evening on the Friday more phenomenal rappers flocked to the main stage. Ghetts, De La Soul and Nas all delivered huge performances, and the evening welcomed a touching tribute to late L.A rapper Nipsey Hussle, originally scheduled to appear. Hundreds of blue balloons filled the sky whilst a video montage of Nipsey’s life was played on the main stage. A minute silence was also held for Hussle, met by a huge round of applause.
Croydon was seemingly transformed into a borough in Brooklyn as Nasty Nas took his place on the main stage and showed the UK crop how it’s done. Opening with Get Down from the album God’s Son, Nas went on to perform tracks from Illmatic, Stillmatic, his latest release NASIR. The Ends Festival went to great lengths to ensure top quality sound and with Nas’ acclaimed studio-ready live vocal, it was sublime how crisp and well balanced the sets were over the weekend.
The flood gates opened in Lloyd Park
Saturday saw the crowd double in size, with the temperature rising, half of Croydon had turned up to see Wizkid, Wande Coal, NSG, Sneakbo and more. Performances remained full to the brim of energy; Wande Coal and Wizkid gave Croydon no choice but to groove, groove and groove some more. Wande Coal offered a highlight of the weekend when playing Iskaba, and had the entirety of Lloyd park dancing and vibing with one another.
Bringing a vibrant atmosphere to the main stage, NSG, Sneakbo and One Acen offered a different dimension to the day. NSG gave the audience no Option but to OT Bop through the night and closed off a very hot but incredible Saturday at The Ends Festival.
Energy never dies
There were understandably a few sore heads on the tram to Lloyd Park on Sunday afternoon. Whether fans had been at The Ends all weekend, enjoyed a Saturday night out, watched Spurs in the Champions League Final or Anthony Joshua’s fight, it’s fair to say most revellers were slightly more reserved en route to The Ends Festival for day three. On site however, this all changed. It’s as if all hangovers melted away instantaneously upon entry.
Masego gathered a sizeable crowd for his early set on the main stage and it was clear the positive vibes that had encapsulated the festival so far hadn’t gone anywhere. The multi-talented artist had everyone engrossed in his lively performance sun broke through the clouds.
If any remaining cobwebs needed to be shaken off among the crowd, then Nao was the perfect artist to help with this. She put together a tight, rip-roaring set on the main stage typified by her phenomenal solo dance breaks, sending the crowd into a frenzy with her infectious energy.
The phenomenal performances were unrelenting all day. Highlights included when Burna Boy brought out South London rapper Dave for hit tune Location, J Balvin bringing out giant Cardi B and Bad Bunny mascots for global smash I Like It, and IAMDDB’s assured performance on the Ends and Friends stage leading up to Sunday’s headliner Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.
Marley’s triumphant performance was the perfect climax to the first ever The Ends Festival, bringing people from all walks of life together and highlighting the importance of spreading love in a tumultuous time for the British Isles.
Ultimately, The Ends Festival 2019 was a roaring success.
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Words by Tom Common and Killian McNeive