Rolling Loud 2018: Winners and Losers

So much could have gone wrong at Rolling Loud 2018. Hard Rock Stadium had never seen an event of its size and scale, and the organizers had to build a small city in the parking lot to bring it all together. But mercifully, the weekend was disaster-free. Although there were early issues, the rest of the weekend went off without a hitch. There were no major incidents and plenty of extraordinary hip-hop moments. As organizers plan for next year, let's look at the winners and losers of Rolling Loud 2018.

Meek Mill
Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Winner: Meek Mill. Rolling Loud is known for giving us more than what we paid for in regards to the lineup. You never know who'll join in for a feature or crash the festival and do a set for the hell of it. After Meek Mill recently battled with law enforcement and was released from jail, seeing his face on hip-hop's biggest stage made our prayers for his release seem vital. "I don’t go to church often, but when Meek did 'Dreams & Nightmares,' I closed my eyes with one hand in the sky and the other hand on the gate, and that was by far the closest thing to it," Twitter user Noah wrote. We, too, felt the holy ghost, Noah. — Cristina Jerome

Loser: Punctuality. Do rappers know how to tell time? Lateness seemed like more of a rule than an exception at Rolling Loud, where many performers threw the schedule completely off-balance, forcing last-minute changes and constantly shifting set times. In particular, the entire Saturday main-stage lineup was running about 30 to 40 minutes behind. Some performers didn't show up at all — looking at you, Gucci Mane. — Douglas Markowitz

Winner: Young Dolph. It's safe to say Young Dolph is for the culture. Though he didn't pay for a city's groceries and a high-school team's sports uniforms like Drake did, Young Dolph is still in the spirit of giving. Recently, two baristas were fired for playing his music in a Duke University coffee shop. We're not sure if it was because the music was vulgar or the coffee drinkers were haters, but regardless, the two employees lost their jobs. Young Dolph stepped in and flew them to South Florida, got them into Rolling Loud (with stage access), and handed them $20,000 in cash while they look for jobs. — Cristina Jerome

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Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Losers: Nonsmokers. Sure, it's a festival named after weed, but the sheer amount of lighting up going on at Hard Rock Stadium this weekend was impressive. During the day, you could see a massive cloud of smoke wafting over the crowd at the High Hemp Stage. In fact, there were so many scents in the air from joints, blunts, vape pens, juuls, and even the occasional cigarette that the stadium grounds smelled like a grimy bar 30 years ago, though maybe one in Jamaica. — Douglas Markowitz

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Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Winners: The Sunday-Evening Crowd. Hard Rock Stadium had been blessed with decent weather all weekend — not perfect, mind you, but hot and sunny Friday and cool and cloudy Saturday. It was Sunday evening when the heavens decided to open up, with torrential downpours soaking the festival to the bone. Even so, the lightning alarms remained silent and the fans stayed out, partying in the rain while 21 Savage, Yung Lean, and others churned out the hits. — Douglas Markowitz

Loser: Famous Dex. Any artist booked for any concert has only a few tasks: Plan your set, get on the plane, and perform that set. For Chicago rapper Famous Dex, getting on a plane was apparently optional. Originally, the rapper was slotted to perform Friday, but he missed his flight. "Due to travel issues, Famous Dex will perform on Sunday," read a tweet on the official Rolling Loud Twitter feed. He missed his chance to perform his hit single "Pick It Up" with special guest A$AP Rocky, who crashed Playboi Carti's set, making this one a serious L. — Cristina Jerome

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Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Winners: The Garbage Collectors. Considering all the food waste, beverages, and various other rubbish generated by a festival of thousands of people, you might think Rolling Loud would turn into a massive dump after each night. But you'd be wrong. Hard Rock Stadium was kept remarkably clean thanks to plentiful trash and recycling bins as well as a hardworking crew sweeping up litter. Every afternoon, fans returned to find the festival cleaner than they left it, and for a party of this size, that's not just a pleasant surprise; it's a major feat. — Doug Markowitz

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Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Loser: Free Water.  Like most attendees, you budgeted for things you didn't need, such as tour merchandise and drugs. The last thing you wanted to pay for was hydration between sets. Just like last year, Rolling Loud provided free water to guests this time around, but the lines to reach the fountains were ridiculous, making this a fail. On average, the water line was at least a 45-minute wait. And then you could fill your bottle only with lukewarm water that didn't quench your thirst. — Cristina Jerome

Winners: Ski Mask the Slump God and XXXTentacion. These two Broward natives had fallen out last year in the wake of X's protracted legal issues. But during his Sunday set, Ski Mask brought out his friend for a beef-quashing, upturning monster set that sent attendees sprinting to the main stage. X returned again later in the evening shortly after 21 Savage's set. XXXTentacion might be about to go away for a while, but one could tell from the roars of approval as he played "Look at Me!" just how many people will miss him. — Douglas Markowitz

Correction: This article has been corrected to note that Rick Ross performed at Rolling Loud. He was not a no-show.

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