Counting down to Dour Festival is a matter of weeks now instead of months. A melting pot of hip-hop, house, drum and bass, reggae, rock and more in between will be brewed in the South of Belgium. The line-up boasts names like Cypress Hill, Action Bronson, and Vince Staples–but there are tons of exciting names in the smaller letters of the poster, too.
(Header photo: David Vannucci)
The Find’s Jelger Staal (the creator of our Stay Hungry mix series) and his beatmaking brother Jasper Staal immerse themselves in the music Dour has to offer this year. Jelger: “I could name so many artists I’d like to highlight. The obvious ones being big names like Cypress Hill, Masters at Work, Richie Hawtin, Congo Natty, and Adam Beyer. But also the bit more obscure ones like Objekt and IAMDDB. Still, after strenuous deliberation, these are the ones you should hear.”
Dour is a festival of future anecdotes. In our years-long experience, it’s definitely one you’ll keep bringing up with friends. Or if the South of Belgium is too far away for you, then consider this a list of recommendations for musical discoveries. Just like Dour Festival is, it’s one for the open-minded listener:
4 Picks by Jelger
You can’t really put a finger on the music Skee Mask makes. Forgive me for trying: his music sounds like a hybrid between abstract soundscapes, bass music, and techno, seemingly drawing inspiration from the lack of boundaries that fueled electronic artists in the early nineties. Whereas last year on Dour Floating Points blew Jasper and me away with an exciting hour of electronic experimentation, this year I put my hopes on Skee Mask to take us on a mesmerizing journey into unexplored worlds.
For fans of: Electronic experimentation, Floating Points, Aphex Twin, DJRum, R&S Records
As hip-hop pushes fifty years old, a lot of older heads tend to get stuck in a swamp of cynicism. Instead of staying stuck in the nineties they should pay some more attention to young spitters like J.I.D. Yes, like most rappers nowadays, J.I.D. tends to sing his own hooks (blasphemy!!), but let that not detract you from his trademark mind-boggling rapid-fire lyricism. The business has started to boom for J.I.D. since J.Cole’s Dreamville label picked him up about four years ago. Speaking of J.Cole, J.I.D’s and J.Cole’s frenzied “Off Deez” collaboration was one of the more talked about singles from last year–rightfully so. Still just 29 years old, J.I.D. has a wide lane of promise in front of him. Here’s hoping he can transfer that hyped energy when he performs live at Dour Festival!
For fans of: a healthy dose of braggadocio, Outkast, Chance The Rapper, J.Cole, Earthgang, the voice of Eazy-E
For many, Laurent Garnier doesn’t need no introduction. Known for his cinematic and brooding Detroit sound, Garnier has cemented himself as one of techno’s greats, and one that has continually pushed the genre’s boundaries during a career that already spans three decades. His album ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ in particular holds a special place in my heart. I was 15 when I spontaneously bought it, right after hearing “The Man With The Red Face”, a song so good that even my 65-year old ex-mother in law liked it, just to casually emphasize it’s transcendence. What I didn’t knew was that this song was just a chapter in the fascinating apocalyptic journey that is Unreasonable Behaviour. It is an album that redefined music to me and still holds up perfectly well today. With Garnier’s reputation behind the decks being close to legendary as well, I can’t wait to get hypnotized and pay tribute to this hero of mine.
For fans of: Quality Detroit techno, Jeff Mills, Seth Troxler, Marc Romboy, Funk D’Void
The Brazilian DJ Marky is widely credited as one of the premier figures in infusing Brazilian flavour into drum and bass around the turn of the millenium. A jovial and fun presence behind the decks, Marky is a surefire guarantee to get a party started. To me, being a long-time drum and bass enthusiast myself, Marky represents a sound that seems neglected too often in the genre: the sound of fun, love and good times together, instead of the all too common stew of misanthropy, disgust and self-destruction. Yes, I’m somewhat of a neo-hippie, I know! Now let me get my groove on and dance until I can’t anymore!
For fans of: Upbeat Drum n Bass, smiling people on a dancefloor, LTJ Bukem, Total Science, Marcus Intalex, Fabio & Grooverider
4 Picks by Jasper
I first heard Phony PPL’s “Why iii Love the Moon” on WeFunk Radio (also known as: My infinite source of new good music) and was instantly charmed by the eclectic mix of hip-hop, soul, jazz, fun, and more “White” pop elements. Phony PPL sounds like Stevie Wonder meets Queen meets J Dilla meets Earth Wind and Fire meets People Under the Stairs. Their 2018 album Mō’zā-ik has been amongst my faves last year, because I simply couldn’t find anything quite like it. The songs each have a very distinct flavor to them. Their blend of “white” and “black” musical influences creates a very refreshing and harmonious sound. Check out their NPR Tiny Desk concert to get an idea of the type of vibe you can expect.
For fans of: Soul music, Stevie Wonder, People Under the Stairs, fans of the word “Eclectic”, people looking for something that actually fits the description “eclectic”
Among the new wave of West Coast heavy-hitters, I find Jay Rock to be one of the more underrated artists. This might be due to the fact he’s surrounded by the gargantuan shadow of TDE-labelmate Kendrick Lamar. Or the fact he spent almost five years finetuning his 2018 album Redemption, which in my eyes was a really solid piece but might have lacked the commercial potential that some of Kendrick’s newer work has. This is rarely a disqualification in this genre, though, and Jay Rock sounds hungry and solid throughout the 15-track album. His typical energetic and confident flow reminds me of some of the greatest West Coast classics out there, and I’m really excited to see how his studio efforts translate into stage presence.
For fans of: Ice cube, Kendrick Lamar, 90’s west coast classics, GTA San Andreas – Radio Los Santos
I suppose this guy needs little to no introduction. The Queens-native is a born entertainer, balancing perfectly between masterful rhyme schemes and hilarious self-glorification. It’s hard not to love what this guy is doing. Because there is nobody like him, or safer to say: nobody that does it better. I’ve never seen Bronson live, but I’ve heard nothing but great stories about his live performances. The wildest one is this story where he continued rapping while taking a sanitary break during a show.
For fans of: Ghostface Killah, Your Old Droog, Kool G Rap, food
Another well-known name on my list, with a creative vision I respect a lot. A$AP makes for a prime example of a complete artist. Not only does he rap, but he also produces, directs his own music videos and is an actor. I’m all for artists with an interdisciplinary creative mind. The creative wealth that spawns when a rapper is able to produce a world around their music (whether music video or beats) can have such complementary value, as seen and heard with the likes of Tyler the creator, J.Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick, Mac Miller–just to name a few.
For fans of: Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Mob, bass