Rolling loud 2018

Rolling Loud started as a one-day, Miami-based rap festival in early 2015 before expanding to annual events in Northern and Southern California the last couple of years. The entrance installation was the same at all three festivals this year: a collection of scaffolding with grey bastions and a gold chain snaking between them to drape a pendant with the festival’s name. This past weekend (Dec. 14-15) was the second Los Angeles installation and nearly fifty thousand attended, most under or around twenty years old. If you want a $17 Modelo, there’s no wait.

While there was some homogeneity between the lineups, partly inevitable because of popular national acts, the L.A. lineup featured many of the city’s buzzing acts. Blueface, Rucci, AzChike, $tupid Young, 1TakeJay, Roddy Rich, G Perico and Shoreline Mafia all performed to enthusiastic crowds happy to see local talent. Heavily-streamed newcomers like Juice WRLD, Sheck Wes, Trippie Redd and Lil Baby-Gunna were present too, as well as acts popular when those were in high school (Young Thug, Chief Keef, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y). The headliners, a liberated Lil Wayne and Cardi B, the first woman to headline the festival and the first headliner to have a set interrupted. The set times are tailored to the streaming era’s short attention span, around fifteen minutes for the first two dozen performers and stretching past thirty for the last handful of artists.

Day 1

LowTheGreat, a producer for many of the L.A. acts performing, is en route to the festival riding a Bird Scooter down MLK Boulevard.

L.A. rapper T Swish is finessing on the sidewalk adjacent to Will Call and yelling, “You say you got twenty?!?”

There’s a ferris wheel by the entrance and a corral of food trucks. If you have time in between artists you can shoot hoops or join a twerk contest hosted by a radio station. You can even skate the court as long as your Monster Energy drink label faces the selfie stick.

1TakeJay is asking the crowd to “wipe him down” cause he’s “an a-hole” and wearing a bulletproof vest with ‘tour life’ written on it.

At the start of his time, AzChike says, “Imma be here for just a minute then I’ll be gone.” He brought out two Inglewood talents: a shirtless Almighty Suspect and Rucci, strolling like Big Pun in a black bubble coat and braids. Chike gained at least one fan.

An observer is sitting on a bench far from the main stage. He overhears Comethazine’s set and says, “Anybody could claim to be Comethazine and I’d say ‘alright’.”

Sheck Wes opens with a snippet of “Mo Bamba” and instigates a stampede.

It’s early evening, Shoreline Mafia is on stage and kids are moshing to songs even when it’s not appropriate. Member Ohgeesy introduces Sada Baby to perform “Bloxk Party” and preach like Malcolm X. They perform “Spaceship”, a song featuring Stinc Team members Ralfy the Plug and KetchyTheGreat, both of whom are incarcerated because of targeting from California law enforcement.

Someone asks “Is this the Audiomack stage?” I answer yes and, before running off, she turns to a friend and says, “Bro, go, Lil Baby and Gunna are on the OTHER stage.”

Day 2

An attendee is drunk at 1 p.m. on the entrance walkway and loudly banging a non-L.A. set with no general direction or purpose.

Rucci performs for his own set and it’s the first time I’ve seen beach balls in the crowd all weekend. He’s wearing a black hoodie and matching sweats, surrounded by Pirus in all red. He shakes his braids before playing “El Salvador” and smiles. He closes with “Bullshit”, a track by his best friend, the late Sean Mackk.

$tupid Young finishes playing the imperative “Mando” and proclaims, “I’m the only Asian in this motherfucker.”

There are a surprising number of outfits featuring popular nineties sitcom Friends.

Blueface is baring his chest through an open jacket and the crowd knows every word to “Dead Locs”, the song of the summer “Thotiana” and the sex-positive “Freak Bitch”. People traded shade for the beating sun to catch a glimpse of the meat show. There’s no booing.

A couple, high school age, argue near the back of a crowd. The girl hits him and he storms off. He comes back and says, “Don’t fucking do that, I fucking love you.” She moves deeper into the crowd and he follows, apologizing. They repeat this process three times before I lose sight.

In the walkway between stages, a shirtless attendee is sporting neon pink shorts and arguing with his fully-clothed companions. “Bro, I was in the pit for Sheck Wes, don’t tell me anything!” seems to settle the dispute.

Tariq Cherif, the festival’s co-founder, is on the main stage and says, “Isn’t it crazy you’re surrounded by fifty thousand people who all listen to the same playlist?”