The Rolling Loud music festival came to Inglewood, CA on March 3-5. Originating in Miami, FL, Rolling Loud has become known as the “biggest hip-hop festival in the country,” according to Variety.
Since its inception in 2015, Rolling Loud has expanded to outside of the U.S., with festivals in Portugal, Germany, Canada and Australia. Over the years, the festival has continued to gain prominence by featuring some of the most popular names in hip-hop, and this year’s California festival was no different.
Playboi Carti, Travis Scott and Future were the prominent names on the lineup this year. These names brought some of the biggest crowds of the festival, which gave way to a tightly packed venue with a highly enthusiastic audience.
Check out the audio stories below or keep reading for an in-depth look at each day of the festival. For more photos of your favorite artists, click here.
Digital Nas is a producer, rapper and musician who performed on day two of Rolling Loud. He has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty and more. Below is an interview he did with KCPR where he talks about his career in music and where he wants to go next.
A popular trend in rap music in recent years has been the inspiration and integration of punk rock music. One of the most influential artists in this trend was a festival headliner, Playboi Carti.
His punk-inspired set began with an unreleased version of the song “Rockstar.” The set was fueled by multiple hypemen, including Blackhaine and Burberry Erry — whose job was to keep the crowd energized — and a guitarist, Ojivolta, who shredded through every song. Carti, dawned in all black, led the masses through his hard-hitting, bass-filled tracks.
The audience’s energy seemingly grew with every song, with people jumping and pushing one another in an attempt to get closer to the front. The space between people became almost nonexistent as each person was pushed up against another. It became almost impossible to move amongst the crowd, and if there was any movement it was involuntary and caused by excessive pushing. This proved to be an issue when one of Rolling Loud’s founders Tariq Cherif had to stop the set for about 30 minutes out of safety concerns.
After the intermission, Carti returned with his same fired-up energy and aggressive stage presence. As the guitarist played the extended opening to “Stop Breathing,” Carti screamed to the audience “They can’t f*cking stop us.” The song dropped and Carti turned around and started kicking one of the three large speakers that sat on the stage.
After a cover of the viral song “Miss the Rage,” Carti stopped to speak to the audience.
“They wanted me to stop my show three songs in, and I came back out because I love my fans,” Carti said. “I love you guys so much, but I have to leave,” he said, which was met with immediate outrage from fans as they chanted for one more song.
As the chants persisted, Ojivolta’s guitar rang out of the speakers again and “Location” began playing, turning the chants into roaring cheers. Fans jumped and rapped along to the song, as fire and fireworks shot out of the stage. Carti said goodbye to the audience, repeating “I love you.”
On the third day of Rolling Loud, punk continued to show its influence in today’s rap music when Lil Uzi Vert took the stage. Similar to Playboi Carti’s backup dancers on day one, Uzi styled his hair into an iconic spiked hair punk look. His performance drew inspiration from religion and horror, with multiple crosses placed on the stage and the film “Terrifier 2” playing on the center screen.
Arguably the most anticipated set of the festival, Scott made his first major public debut since the Astroworld tragedy in November 2021 which saw the death of 10 people due to crowd crush. Despite the controversy surrounding Scott, Rolling Loud founders Tariq Cherif and Matt Zigler told Variety that Scott is an “integral part” of the festival’s history, as Rolling Loud has signed Scott to headline other upcoming festivals.
Scott had one of the most elaborate stage designs of the festival with various projections of a void, a tropical scene, and hell, and two towers with a bridge in between them for Scott to perform on. This set undoubtedly attracted one of the largest crowds of the festival.
Scott went through a diverse catalog of his most popular tracks, starting off with one of his newer songs “Hold That Heat” before going into others like “BUTTERFLY EFFECT,” “Mamacita,” “SICKO MODE” and “goosebumps.”
During his set — with a smaller crowd compared to the previous two — Future brought out Nardo Wick and A$AP Ferg for brief performances. The setlist included over 30 songs and concluded Rolling Loud with a sky full of fireworks.
Lil Wayne performed wearing a pink fluffy jacket with a blunt in hand. Accompanied by a drummer, Wayne played over a one-hour-long set, thanking the audience after each song.
His performance included a surprise appearance from Nicki Minaj, who experienced technical difficulties with her audio when trying to perform.
While Rolling Loud is a hip-hop-focused festival, there were still some notable differences in the music between the acts. Artists such as Kodak Black, Trippie Redd, Amine and Chief Keef performed songs that had become fan favorites in the last decade. With songs that had long been released, the crowd at Rolling Loud generally rapped and sang along in excitement.
Atmosphere & Culture
The festival had a large number of booths and activities for guests to check out in addition to the performances going on throughout the day. Attractions included a Ferris wheel, a large swing carousel and an indoor Zero-Gravity ride, as well as carnival games.
By the north entrance of the venue and the Culture Kings stage, festival attendees could take a break from the music and fast-paced nature of the festival and watch pro skateboarders push around the modest-sized DGK skate course.
For most of the day, around four skateboarders would skate along two ramps, a table and two concrete fixtures. The entire skate area was about as long as a basketball court and was set up for recreational use.
Branded attractions like a two-story-tall Monster energy drink lounge and club booth staffed with a live DJ were scattered throughout the park. Attendees who visited the booth could receive a free energy drink of whatever flavor was available.
Liquid Death water had a small building where the inside was meant to look like a secret club. Inside, Liquid Death provided free water of varying flavors and free airbrush tattoos.
Google Pixel also had a small pop-up where guests could use their phones to take pictures of different displays showcasing brightly lit light fixtures, album covers and a throne constructed of stereos and speakers.
Rolling Loud seemed to lean into the idea that the festival was something to post about.
The over 20-foot tall inflatable statues of Rolling Loud’s ski mask mascots, a towering purple middle finger that shot flames and giant mirror-like letters that spelled out the name of the festival were commonly used as backgrounds for photos.
Platforms like TikTok and Instagram were filled with videos of the artists’ performances. Anywhere you looked, you could see hundreds of phones up in the air recording what was going on.
Rolling Loud’s large fanbase was evident in the countless numbers of people who repped the festival’s merchandise from both the current and past festivals.
At this year’s festival, long merch lines were seen throughout all three days, with some festival attendees waiting in line for multiple hours.
One festival attendee said the merchandise was a main motivator for them coming to the festival.
“I came here exclusively for Travis Scott merch; I made it worth it ‘cause they said first come first serve,” they said. “Honestly, I finessed my way up there and waited like 30 minutes.”