For hip-hop lovers, Rolling Loud’s annual festival is like Christmas. Every year, the biggest names in rap draw thousands of fans to Miami-Dade to smoke marijuana, rage, and party to the greatest hits. The festival made it back to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, creating overwhelming traffic, Instagram-worthy moments, and a reason to blow your life savings on the three-day spectacle. Though the whole weekend is stacked with heavy-hitters and amusement rides, day one always sets the tone for what to expect the next couple of days. Here are the acts who stood out.
Lil Yachty. If you can find a way to work the full Jeopardy! song into your set and not completely lose the crowd’s interest, you must be doing something right. Enter 21-year-old Georgia rapper Lil Yachty, who provided the Rolling Loud crowd with an early-evening boost of energy and justified his 7:45 main-stage slot by putting together a set peppered with hits and surprise guests. Playboy Carti, Kyle, and Yung Miami all made appearances, as did a cover of Dram's “Broccoli” sans the actual Dram. More than a few fans seemed pleasantly surprised by the well-rounded show, which employed plenty of pyrotechnics and drew more fans as it progressed. Over the course of his roughly 45-minute set, Yachty fit in 12 originals, four covers, three guest appearances, and the Jeopardy! song and still found time to playfully lecture certain fans for reciting his lyrics a bit too accurately. Now that’s efficiency. Nobody would call Yachty’s set the day’s best, but it exceeded lots of expectations.
Rae Sremmurd. Fans ran full speed to the Loud Stage once they heard the duo’s “No Type” blast through the speakers. Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee took the stage to greet thousands of day-one fans raging below who knew exactly what to expect: a good time. It took no time for Jxmmi to flex his tight six-pack and inked canvas for the ladies in the crowd. His jewelry glistened in the flashing lights like the sweat on his forehead while he and his brother paced back and forth onstage. The two powered through their hits, including “Powerglide,” “Come Get Her,” and “Black Beetles,” putting effort into over an hourlong set. They allowed the crowd’s vibe to fuel their performance, which prompted them to drop a new song. “We got new music, and I want to play it first at Rolling Loud,” the duo yelled into the mike. Though they mentioned the song featured a very special guest, fans couldn’t guess. The beat echoing through the speakers signified a banger, but Rae Stremmurd never revealed the track's title or that special guest before leaving the stage after playing only about 30 seconds of the song.
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Rich the Kid. Rich the Kid's DJ demanded festivalgoers scream his name before his set, and of course the crowd had no problem. ”Rich the!” he yelled into the mike, and the crowd roared “Kid!” in return. Smoke rings wafted into the air as the New York-born rapper took the stage. Wearing a black T-shirt with a giant red X on it, he began to rap over the lyrics to “Splashin’,” a crowd favorite. Festivalgoers began to push and shove as the blue lights flashed and he powered through his song. “I can’t fucking see! I drove 17 hours for this,” a fan in a pink wig yelled as she pushed through. “Where are my Rolling Loud day-ones?” Rich the Kid asked. He jumped into his single featuring Offset and Quavo, “Lost It,” as revelers continued to lose their shit throughout his set.
Cardi B. If you didn’t leave the festival while running for your life due to a fight near the Loud Stage, you were able to catch Cardi B. Because of the crowd’s panic attack, her set ran more than an hour late, but the real Bardi Gang fans stuck around to bask at her greatness. She finally took the stage a little after 10:45 p.m. wearing a hot-pink thong bodysuit and a rainbow wig that stretched past her waist. The stage filled with her dancers, also in hot pink, as she opened with her single “Get Down 10,” from her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. Her pink glittery booty glistened in the lights as she paced the stage through “Backin’ It Up”, “Money”, and her verse on “No Limit.” She turned things up a notch by giving fans the twerk show they deserved as she proceeded to turn around and throw her ass in a circle to her single featuring Bruno Mars, “Please Me.” Though Cardi didn’t perform any of her older singles for day-one fans, she made sure they could rap along to all of her hits and features, including the City Girls-featured “Twerk,” “Drip,” “I Like It,” and the infamous “Bodak Yellow.”
Migos. Migos’ Friday-night headlining slot had the unfortunate burden of following the much-discussed false-shooter panic that marred Rolling Loud 2019’s first day. Many festivalgoers didn't even wait around for the mumble rappers to get started, and by the time the Atlanta trio took the stage, a full hour past its scheduled time, the crowd was noticeably thinner than one would expect for a main-stage closing set. After the long break following Cardi B, and as the adrenaline from the semi-evacuation wore off, many attendees just didn't think waiting around for "Bad and Boujee" was worth it. Those who did stick around got a set that felt more obligatory than inspired, with a dearth of remarkable moments. It’s a tough thing to keep the energy alive for fans who have been both baking in the sun and treated to special appearances all day, and the three Migos didn’t seem to have enough tricks up their sleeves to keep the crowd’s fatigue at bay. Though they came to Miami equipped with an impressive stage setup and more than enough hits to justify their placement atop rap’s most coveted festival lineup, it just wasn’t Migos’ night.