Best of Rolling Loud Festival 2017
Rolling Loud festival was an opportunity for Hip Hop to be honored and expressed, a manifestation of black hip hop history, through style, vibe, and music. However, it was often waves of cacophony and unity. Cacophony from the people who came as imposters and appropriators, who sometimes felt it was ok to say “Nigga”, but didn’t know a word to Migos “Bricks”. They didn’t know who Kendrick Lamar was, but wanted to mosh pit to XXX Tentacion. However; at each of the performances we were surrounded by people who came to show respect and to experience seeing their favorites artists in person, which made a huge difference.
Kendrick Lamar, Rolling Loud’s Headliner, gave a multisensorial experience transforming his performance into a narrative. He performed classic’s like Pour Up and MAAD City while stunning us with prophetic Untitled Unmastered #2 and #7. I. WAS. UNDONE. He graced us with most songs from the album DAMN and showed subliminal vignettes of him fighting evil and uplifting black women. Migos gave an intoxicating performance that literally was moved from its original stage because people were getting crushed up front. They were reminiscent of boy bands like the Beatles or the Jackson Five. Once the crowd of 30,000+ people settled they performed throwbacks like Hannah Montana, Bricks, and Handsome and Wealthy. What was most impressive is their ability to seamlessly fill each other raps with auto-tuned background vocals and equally impressive ad libs. They at some points sounded like the Gregorian Monks of Hip Hop.
Kendrick Lamar and Migos made the festival worth it alone, but other artists like Gucci Mane, Future, and Lil Wayne were the icing and cherries on top of the music festival cake. Lil Wayne reminded me that he is the Bob Dylan of Rap, he’s such a rock star. It was magical and his DJ is from my hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. I remember going to Level 3 and DJ T-Lewis would play Pole in My Pants and All Day. It’s amazing to see determination and favor at work in the most unexpected moments. Honestly, there are more recent artists who I didn’t see like Lil Yachty or Uzi Vert; however, videos showed he jumped off a structure into the crowd. Not mad I missed that, but Rolling Loud is truly an amalgamation of the evolution of Hip Hop.
Action Bronson was exceptionally charismatic on stage, which reminded me of the feel-good vibes Chance gives at his concerts. No wonder they’ve collaborated on songs before. I’m kind of bummed we missed Amine, I bet Caroline was feel-good perfection in person and Playboi Carti surprised me with his ability to command the stage and crowd at his performance. I knew none of the words, but there were times where I even started bopping with the crowd because it was intoxicating. In my opinion, we saw the artists we wanted to see and spent the other time exploring Miami or tanning on the beach.
Maybe just maybe, I’m about lyricism and production, performance and authenticity, so much so, that I can’t get with the new wave main-stream hip-hop. I have up and coming artists who I’m eyeing and hope I will see this upcoming year, in hopes they will restore some balance of consciousness and artistry in music. If you’ve been to music festivals before, and you’re a person of color, you know it has its moments of magic and moments that remind you of the systems of inequality that have diluted hip hop culture. Rolling Loud Fest is evolving to have one of the best rap and hip-hop line ups in the South; however, you can tell they aren’t dedicated to creating an atmosphere that limits appropriation, but rather encourages it so attendees can “black face” for a weekend. And the vision of seeing so many white people with braids and beads may be one of the reasons I don’t return next year, but to each its own.