After no show in 2020 — due to the coronavirus pandemic — Wireless Festival made sure their 2021 event was filled with stars from across the world. During the past few years, their 3-day extravaganza has taken place in Finsbury Park. However, 2021 saw them switch to a different location — Crystal Palace. As always, Wireless managed to book a whole range of acts for rap and hip-hop fans to enjoy. Friday saw US rapper Future headline with a nostalgic set and even brought special guest Drake to perform five songs. Throughout the day, fans enjoyed BRIT nominees Young T & Bugsy, Mostack, Lil Baby, and Lil Uzi Vert.
The number of high-profile names continued on the Saturday with Rae Sremmurd rapper Swae Lee taking over the main stage during the day. Despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning, his set was jam-packed with hits — “Black Beatles,” “Sunflower” and “No Type” — and had the crowd rapping and singing to every word. UK export AJ Tracey is currently enjoying a career-high right now and his set reflected that. The “Ladbroke Grove” hitmaker smash a 10+ song set and had the large crowd hyped for headliner Skepta, who hadn’t performed a show in over a year. In true Skepta style, he commanded the stage and had an undeniable stage presence. Fresh from releasing his new EP, All In, in July, his new material was received well by his audience and came more to life in a live setting. A personal highlight was the single “Energy (Stay Far Away).”
Sunday was my favorite day of the weekend. Central Cee secured himself two main stage slots this year. After an early set on Saturday, he returned the following day with another. The London-born rapper dropped his self-released mixtape, Wild West, in March and has been doing the rounds on the festival circuit. He may have only made his music debut last year, but Central Cee already comes across as a seasoned performer. US hip-hop legend Rick Ross made an appearance soon after and took the audience back in time and reminded the crowd as to why he is one of music’s most prolific names in rap.
After two days in Manchester, Megan Thee Stallion returned to London for the first time in two years. Since Megan’s first Wireless performance in 2019, she has morphed into a superstar. With three Grammy Awards and No. 1 collaborations with Beyonce and Cardi B to her name, the Houston Texas-born rapper returned with a bang and a beast of a set. Megan might be considered a commercial act now that she’s started to make music mainstream radio, but she wasn’t shy about reminding the crowd of her mixtape days by kicking off her performance with “Realer” and continued to please early fans with “Cash Shit,” “Simon Says,” and “Freak Nasty.” Migos finished off the weekend with a headline slot, which really should have been Megan. After all, she’s had a bigger and more impactful year than anyone else on the lineup. While taking the crowd down memory lane, Megan proved why 2020 was her year with megahits “Body,” “WAP” and “Savage.”
Due to covid, a number of international acts who were originally announced — Doja Cat and Saweetie — dropped out. With that being said, that by no means Wireless had a weak lineup as they still managed to secure a variety of acts from across the pond. With live shows going ahead and the world opening up, we can only assume that next year’s event will be even bigger and better.