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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April 2008, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Is rap really a festival flop?
By Damian Jones
Newsbeat reporter

Jay Z
Jay-Z's Glastonbury slot has caused a stir with fans and bands
Glastonbury Festival organisers have been heavily criticised ever since Jay-Z was announced as one of the main headliners at this year's event.

Disgruntled fans and the likes of Noel Gallagher have all blamed the hip-hop star for poor ticket sales after the three-day event failed to sell out.

Admittedly rap and hip-hop acts haven't had the best of times at UK festivals in recent years.

In 2003 the man at the centre of the latest controversy, Jay-Z, was due to appear at The Reading and Leeds Festivals, having secured a fourth slot on the bill on the main stage.

But he pulled his performance shortly before the festival was due to start, apparently blaming recording commitments. But no official statement was ever released.

Booed and pelted

At Reading in 2005, 50 Cent was scheduled to appear as a warm up to the main headliners Green Day. But as soon as he arrived onstage he was booed and pelted with bottles. He walked off after 15 minutes.

Last year, Dizzee Rascal was struck down by the dreaded festival curse at Glastonbury when he teamed up with Arctic Monkeys during their headlining slot.

As they played Temptation Greets You Like You're Naughty Little Friend, the rapper was blighted by sound problems, leaving much of the crowd unable to hear his performance.

50 Cent
50 Cent was bottled off at Reading in 2005
Curses and bottles aside, rappers and hip-hop artists actually have a long, reputable history at UK festivals.

In 1992, in what is considered to be a legendary year at Reading because of Nirvana's last ever UK show, hip-hop stars Public Enemy headlined the main stage on the Saturday night.

Onstage spat

Two years later, in 1994, Californian rap collective Cypress Hill topped the bill too as they rocked the main stage.

In the same year, rap veteran Ice Cube also warmed up the crowd before Primal Scream's headline slot on the Saturday night.

In 1998, despite a spat between The Beastie Boys and The Prodigy which resulted in the former trying to stop the rave outfit from singing Smack My Bitch Up, the rap veterans went on to headline with another memorable festival set.

Eminem put in a memorable performance at Reading in 2001
And, in 2001, when Eminem was at the height of his career after his second album, the Marshall Mathers LP became the fastest selling rap album in history, he topped the bill at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.

A spokesman for the festival put the success of rap artists at the event down to a popular tradition which first started with Public Enemy.

Quick to condemn

He said: "Reading was one of the first festivals to put hip hop bands on with the likes of Public Enemy, so I think there has always been a sympathy from the fans with rap acts which are popular.

"Public Enemy really paved the way for rap acts and the likes of Cypress Hill and The Beastie Boys broadened this even further.

I think there has always been a sympathy from the fans with rap acts which are popular
Reading and Leeds spokesman
"It shows that it is a mainstream audience buying their records. You only have to look at the likes of Jay-Z's record sales to see that."

While Glastonbury fans are quick to condemn Jay-Z's current headline slot, nobody criticised Cypress Hill when they appeared third on the bill on the Pyramid stage in 2000, behind Counting Crows and The Chemical Brothers.

Four years later, Black Eyed Peas pulled in a huge crowd when they performed before main headline act Paul McCartney on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, although Goldie Lookin' Chain are considered to be a rap collective in the loosest of terms, they also attracted a huge crowd during their afternoon performance on the Pyramid Stage back in 2005.

And rap artists continue to attract huge crowds at the major festivals with the likes of Kanye West going down a storm at last year's V Festival and Wu Tang Clan whipping up festival goers at T In The Park.

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