Denzel CurryEXPAND
Denzel Curry
Photo by Alex Markow

Rolling Loud Is Here for Local Talent, and We Are Too

Remember when music festivals presented upcoming talent? Yeah, we don’t either. As fests become more popular and one-off showcases become a thing of the past, we’ve grown to accept the words “bigger is better.” Bigger stages, bigger venues, and bigger talent catch our eyes when a new lineup is announced. Huge productions such as Coachella and South by Southwest allow us to see a few indie acts here and there, but at the end of the day, if Beyoncé won’t be there, neither will we. When it comes to growth, we’ve seen Miami’s hip-hop scene go from shitty rap shows to full-on extravaganzas in a matter of years. But it’s time we give back to smaller acts that made festivals dope in the first place. Rolling Loud plans to do just that.

Rolling Loud is known for three things: the stench of high-grade marijuana, your favorite rapper spraying you with water bottles, and fanboys (and fangirls) screaming vulgar rap bars at the top of their lungs. In 2015, the beloved hip-hop festival brought heavy-hitters to the Magic City, which was unheard-of. With Miami focusing heavily on its Latin and EDM scenes, a major spotlight on hip-hop was needed, and Dope Entertainment delivered. Cofounders Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif brought superstar rappers Kendrick Lamar, Future, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, and others to Miami, and we still haven’t gotten the pot smell out of our hair.

Squinting at the lineup, you’ll notice that as the years pass, the talent has become more diverse. Until last year, Rolling Loud was proudly responsible for booking only four female acts among the hip-hop artists. This year, the talent includes 12 women, such as Saweetie and Princess Nokia. But where are the underground rappers? The ones with a couple hundred SoundCloud plays and a booming fan base of 200 ragers were hardly found on past flyers, but this year, the team is showing love to what began the Miami scene since day one.

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“We’re always looking for upcoming acts, and there’s no better place to start than our own backyard that has given us Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, Trina, Denzel Curry, Pouya, XXXTentacion, Ski Mask the Slump God, Wifisfuneral, Robb Banks, and others — all who are on Rolling Loud this year or have performed in the past,” Cherif says. Watching crowds go crazy for their hometown favorites is a sight worth seeing, and often times the hype makes a better show. Though local acts such as IndigoChildRick, Yung Simmie, and Zoey Dollaz have graced the marijuana-themed festival stages in the past, a few fresh faces will be making their Rolling Loud debut.

Toward the bottom of each paragraph of lineup names, you’ll find Florida’s finest. Our very own Prez P and SDotBraddy will hit the stage Friday; Gat$, Danny Towers, and Nell will perform Saturday; and the fest will end Sunday with Famous Kid Brick, Robb Banks, and others. We’ve had the pleasure of watching a handful of these artists perform at shitty Miami rap shows, but this is a whole new playing field for some of these local newcomers.

”Shout 'bout my boy Kelvin... He was like, 'Will you be in town on May 11?'” Prez P says in excitement for his set. “I’ve never reached out to get on the show. I just been watching them blow up since year one, and last year while I was in L.A. watching the show in Miami on Revolt, I was just thinking to myself, like, after I drop my album, I’ll be on there next year. Now we’re here.”
This Dope Entertainment show isn’t Tampa-based artist Gat$'s first rodeo. ”I actually billed for the first two Rolling Louds and the sister festival, TxL, in Tampa. It was really dope... Last year I came as a fan when I was on chemotherapy, so it's great to be back on a stage,” he says. Cherif, originally from Tampa, spent time cultivating the music scene with a sister festival called Take Off x Landing, but in all, the bigger picture was Rolling Loud in Miami.

Preparing for a major show like this one will also require more than just a simple sound check. Because Hard Rock Stadium’s grounds are huge, the stages will be massive. Even indie talents are expected to bring their A-games. The Tampa-based rapper Famous Kid Brick will bring nothing less than perfection. “This is a more composed set for a bigger audience, so everything will be strategically calculated and not freestyled," he says. "I want to give the people an amazing show.”

“It feels great to be able to provide artists with a platform like this," Cherif says. "It’s a different type of feeling to know that you just killed it on the biggest stage in hip-hop. It gives them the motivation to grind harder for the next 365 days so they can see their name higher on the flyer or a later set time. You can be on the last line of our lineup one year and make it near the top the next.”

Rolling Loud 2018. Friday, May 11, through Sunday, May 13, at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; hardrockstadium.com. Tickets cost $299.99 to $799.99 via rollingloud.frontgatetickets.com.

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