Where Are the Women at Rolling Loud?

Dreezy is one of only three women on Rolling Loud's 2017 lineup.
Dreezy is one of only three women on Rolling Loud's 2017 lineup.
Photo by Ed Cañas
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The initial announcement for Dope Entertainment’s third-annual Rolling Loud, which is set to take place this weekend, was exciting. The flyer listed Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, and many others, making the fest a hypebeast’s dream. But something was missing from the dozens of acts listed: women.

Of the 54 performers on the bill for Miami’s only hip-hop festival at Bayfront Park, three are women. That’s sad.

The festival includes Chicago rapper Dreezy, whose hit single with Jeremih, “Body,” landed her a slot on Gucci Mane's Trap God Tour. There is also Teenear, a Miami native signed to Slip-n-Slide Records, and Polly A from Michigan, who delivers a fusion of R&B and pop. All three ladies are listed at the bottom of the male-dominated roster. The female acts have extremely early time slots, making their shows hard to catch for most fans.

The rise of feminism has definitely put some focus on women's equality, which is still lacking in the music industry, especially at festivals. Chicago’s Lollapalooza lists only one woman headliner, Lorde, among 35 female acts performing at the festival this August, and for Philadelphia’s Made in America Festival, Solange leads 12 other female acts on the lineup to perform in September.

Last year, Rolling Loud booked only two female acts, Leaf and Rene Brown. Though it's admirable that things like tampons, makeup, and clutch purses are allowed at the festival, New Times asked cofounders Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif why women don’t seem too welcome. They answered together rather than individually.

Dope Entertainment founders Matt Zingler (left) and Tariq Cherif
Dope Entertainment founders Matt Zingler (left) and Tariq Cherif
Photo by Ralph Pierre

New Times: Why is there a lack of women on this year’s line up?
Zingler and Cherif: Honestly, it’s not that we don’t want to put women on the stage; it’s mostly what people want to see. Earlier in the year, we took to our Twitter account to ask what our audience wanted at this year’s festival. Most of the replies were Future, Kendrick [Lamar], Young Thug, and a few others, so we did our best to abide by that. Also, most of our audience is male, so they just happen to choose males.

What is the thought process that goes into picking the festival’s lineup?
We’re always looking for the best of the best. We have a contact form on our website that allows artists and managers to submit music, but we also pay attention to the charts, social media, and trends. We also like to book artists that have released music recently or plan to drop new music with us at the festival. Our lineup is specially curated to satisfy the true rap fan, and that’s what we consider when selecting the lineup.

What made Polly A, Teenear, and Dreezy stand out to you in terms of booking?
Each of these artists bring something different to the table. Although it is a hip-hop festival that features mostly rappers, we do try to have some variation in music styles. It also exposes these artists to a crowd that may not be familiar with their music, allowing them to gain new fans.

Do you have any plans to feature more women at next year’s festival?
Our goal is to always showcase hot emerging talent. We keep our eyes on the charts and social media to pick talent according to what our audience wants to see. If you want to see an artist perform next year, let us know, and we’ll see what we can do.

Rolling Loud
With Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, and others. Friday, May 5, through Sunday, May 7, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; bayfrontparkmiami.com. Tickets are sold out.

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