It’s been a long, strange trip for Dope Entertainment’s Rolling Loud, which begins Friday in Bayfront Park. The rambunctious weekend-long music festival born at Soho Studios in Wynwood in 2015 has since mutated into the most highly anticipated hip-hop event in the state, and quite possibly the nation. Within the past three years, Rolling Loud has invited major talent to perform, including Future, Young Thug, ScHoolboy Q, and Action Bronson. This year, the lineup is a who's who of the biggest names in rap, including Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne.
The list of performers runs deep, but several names stand out among the rest. These are the must-see acts of Rolling Loud 2017, from the fest's repeat offenders to newbies.
1. Mick Jenkins
This year is expected to be major for Mick Jenkins. The Chicago rapper plans to follow his debut album, The Healing Component, with two new projects slated to be released this year. Jenkins recently fueled the hype for those projects by dropping two new songs, “Margarine” and “Pressed for Time (Crossed My Mind),” ahead of his Rolling Loud debut. When he hits the stage, the Wave[s] lyricist will undoubtedly show Miami where he came from by performing every crowd favorite he's released, from his debut mixtape The Mickstape to The Heating Component.
2. Denzel Curry
It’s about time Denzel Curry returned home to show the crib some love. The Carol City native spent most of 2017 traveling the world to perform at clubs and festivals such as South by Southwest and, most recently, Coachella. Curry is no stranger to Rolling Loud, but his upcoming set will be his first performance in his hometown in nearly a year. He has released a few new songs this year, but his set would be even more interesting if the "ULT" rapper previewed something from his forthcoming album, Taboo.
Broward rapper XXXTentacion was released from jail only about a month ago, but he’s more than ready to take the stage. During his first postjail interview on 103.5 the Beat, the “Look at Me!” rapper made headlines when he called out Drake for jocking his flow on "KMT." XXX might use the Rolling Loud stage to bring his beef with the More Life rapper to a head, especially if he disses Drake during his set. The Lauderhill native also has an opportunity to debut music from one of several projects he plans to drop this year.
4. Flatbush Zombies
After building a solid name for themselves for at least the past six years, the rappers of the Brooklyn-based Flatbush Zombies have really come out of their cold, hard shell and spread like wildfire since dropping their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, last spring. Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliott (who's also their go-to producer) have spent the past year touring and performing in major cities across the nation. Last month, the three celebrated their debut LP by dropping the song "Babel" a few weeks ago; they also released “Still Palm Trees,” featuring Snoop Dogg. Though it would be dope to see them perform their latest records for the first time in Dade County, die-hard fans should be praying to hear songs from the group's early mixtapes, such as BetterOffDead and D.R.U.G.S. The true icing on the cake would be if they premiered their second collaboration with Uncle Snoop off his album Neva Left, dropping in May.
5. Joey Bada$$
From performing at local shows with his Brooklyn-based crew Pro Era to dominating late-night TV stages all over the country, Joey Bada$$ has come a long way. The “Devastated” rapper dropped his politically charged sophomore LP, All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, in March and has enticed fans via songs such as “For My People” and “Land of the Free.” When he invades Rolling Loud, he’ll likely have his go-to DJ Statik Selektah at his side. Expect Joey Bada$$ to unleash hard-core cuts from the new album, as well as past classics from projects such as B4.Da.$$ and Summer Knights. The crowd would really go wild if members of his Pro Era crew — like Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, and Dessy Hinds — flew in to perform their collaborative joints.
You can’t go to a party, club, family reunion, or baby shower in 2017 without hearing Migos’ “Bad and Boujee.” During their last performance in South Florida, Quavo, Offset, and Takeout made the walls of Revolution shake when they performed their hit record while fans screamed every lyric. Since dropping the album Culture earlier this year, the ATL’s revered trio has stacked up a plethora of hits from the sophomore LP, including “T-Shirt,” “What the Price,” and “Big on Big.” But fans crave the early hits too, including “Handsome & Wealthy,” “Versace,” and “Fight Night.” For the last track, Migos will have the opportunity to bring Rick Ross out to perform his verse, but they can make the ground move at Bayfront Park all by themselves.
7. Run the Jewels
The very presence of Killer Mike and El-P on the Rolling Loud stage is a blessing. Will their socially conscious rhymes sail over the heads of some attendees? Sure. But for devoted hip-hop heads in the crowd, their set will be a mental break from the mumble rappers. Expect the dynamic duo to perform singles from their latest project, Run the Jewels 3, as well as cuts from their past two albums. And if Killer Mike also schools the new generation of rap fans on what it takes to be an authentic wordsmith in an era when “yea, yea, yea, yea, yea” and “OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK!” are acceptable lyrics in a hit song on the radio, so be it.
8. Travis Scott
No hip-hop fan would turn down the opportunity to experience Travis Scott perform live. The “Antidote” rapper's sets destroy every shred of serenity in the air, and the Miami stop of his Bird's Eye View tour should be no different. It won’t take long for the crowd to rage and mosh unlike any other mob before it. The high energy alone is reason enough to see his performance, but the music doesn't hurt either. Scott will likely perform songs from his most recent album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, and maybe also his Rodeo album if we're lucky.
9. Lil Wayne
During performances, Lil Wayne has used his grand platform to make shocking announcements such as his alleged new deal with Roc Nation and call out foes such as his former Cash Money boss, Birdman. Let's hope his set at Rolling Loud will avoid the drama and focus on delivering a mixture of classic solo tracks like “We Be Steady Mobbin'” and “Fireman” and his latest slew of verses on remixes such as Khalid’s “Location” and Gucci Mane and Drake’s “Both.” It’s also highly likely Wayne will bring out at least one special guest onstage.
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10. Kendrick Lamar
There’s no doubt Kendrick Lamar is on a winning streak. After his album Damn dropped in mid-March, it didn’t take long for every song on K-Dot’s fourth studio LP to end up on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His heavy imagery and intense stage presence during his performance at the end of Coachella's first weekend blew the internet's mind. So how will he top that viral sensation? Because his Damn tour will not make a stop in the Sunshine State, Lamar must come through with an epic show at his Rolling Loud debut.
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.