Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert
Courtesy of Atlantic Records

The Ten Best Acts at Rolling Loud 2018

Thanks to its strategic move to Hard Rock Stadium, there's no threat of a sudden cancellation of Rolling Loud due to angry condo owners on Biscayne Boulevard. So if you're going to the fest, all you need to worry about is who you're seeing, but with a stacked lineup, that's a major task. Which acts can you afford to miss? Who has the lowest chance of being fucked up on lean during their performance? Who has the highest chance of bringing out a major guest? And who is absolutely unmissable because they might never return to a festival stage? Here are New Times' top ten Rolling Loud picks.

1. Lil Uzi Vert. His stage presence is unimpeachable. His dance moves are the best in the game. For proof, look no further than the Lil Uzi shoulder roll. In this single motion, he conveys all you need to know about him: the effervescence, the self-assuredness, how little he cares about what you think of him. Now that Cardi B has dropped out due to her pregnancy, Lil Uzi is the baddest bitch at Rolling Loud. You will be blessed to see him perform. This is your last warning.

2. Migos. Are the Migos the Black Beatles? (Mama!) No, that’s Rae Sremmurd. (Hey!) But are they bigger than the Beatles? (Dab!) Well, Donald Glover seems to think so, so let’s say yes. (Uh!) Does that mean they are, by syllogism, bigger than Jesus? (Woo!) Well, if we’re putting them in the nativity scene, they’d probably be the magi, so no. (Cookie!) But they’re still pretty big. (Dat way!) You’ll probably recognize their hit songs "Bad and Boujee," "Stir Fry," and maybe even "Versace" when they play Rolling Loud. (Racks!) And you’ll also probably hear them holler all of these ad-libs. (Ad-lib!)

3. Travis Scott. At one show last year in Cleveland, Travis Scott performed his song "Goosebumps" 15 times in a row. At others, he has entered the crowd to let fans rap his songs and ridden in on a giant steel eagle to perform "Antidote." Basically, you never know what you're gonna get at one of Travis' shows. It might be extra-awesome or just extra, but it's bound to be unforgettable. Will he bring out Kendrick Lamar to play their Black Panther track "Big Shot"? Will he trot out baby mama Kylie Jenner? Anything could happen at AstroWorld.

4. The Diplomats. Let’s be real: The 2000s were complete trash. Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, those disgusting Juicy Couture tracksuits — the decade deserves no nostalgia. The only thing worth salvaging is bling-era rap, and the almighty Diplomats, AKA Dipset, reigned supreme over it. Consisting of Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zekey, the Harlem posse is known for sample-heavy production and flamboyant, overconfident rapping that's made its members NYC rap icons, but frequent infighting has caused them to split and reform frequently. There’s no telling whether their Rolling Loud performance will be their last, so check it out just in case.

5. N.E.R.D. Pharrell Williams could be one of multiple people to you, depending upon your age. He could be the pop singer who made the megahit "Happy." He could be the raunchy rapper from mid-2000s hip-hop tunes such as "Drop It Like It's Hot" and Clipse's "Mr. Me Too." Or, if you're a really old head, you remember when he was part of all-star production duo the Neptunes with Chad Hugo and, with Hugo and Shay Haley, the rock band N.E.R.D. Once known for goofy, sexually explicit funk-rock, the band reconvened with a star-studded hip-hop album last year, No_one Ever Really Dies, with features from Rihanna, Gucci Mane, and others. N.E.R.D.'s set might be equally star-studded.

 6. 21 Savage. Frankly, who knows how this one is going to go. 21 Savage is not the most animated rapper. He is the rap game’s Mister Freeze, the cold, remorseless criminal mind to everyone else’s wild, Joker-esque personas. It's difficult to tell how his persona might translate onstage. Will he remain reserved, or will he scream his lyrics at the crowd? Either way, his recent projects, from the solo album Issa to the Metro Boomin and Offset collab Without Warning, are so good it's worth the gamble.

7. Future. If there’s one thing rappers can learn from the movie Baby Driver, it’s that all you need is one killer track. For years, Future had failed to secure a solo hit, having to remain content with excellent mixtape sales figures and massive features such as "Bugatti" and "Jumpman." He even watched as Desiigner ripped off his entire persona on "Panda." But then "Mask Off," with its wicked flute sample and Biscayne name-drop, came along, took Future to number five on the Hot 100, and put him in the driver's seat. It's safe to assume that during his headlining set, the mask will certainly not remain on.

8. Trick Daddy and Trina. If you’re disappointed that Cardi B had to cancel due to her pregnancy, don’t worry: Trina is more than enough of a bad bitch (actually, "Da Baddest Bitch") to compensate. In fact, she is the OG of bawdy, female rap, and her dirtiest bars would make Beyoncé blush and Cardi drop her jaw like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. She'll be joined onstage by Trick Daddy, who, lest we forget, put her on with "Nann Nigga." This is the 305's biggest moment at Rolling Loud, so if you’re a true South Floridian, you'd best not miss.

9. Chief Keef. It’s been a real minute since Keith Cozart was truly hot. His mean streak in 2012-13 — from "I Don't Like" to "Love Sosa" to a feature on Kanye West's "Hold My Liquor" — is one of the most legendary in hip-hop. But that’s in the past. The new, early-20s Chief Keef is now a mature, vastly more interesting artist coming off three experimental, well-regarded 2017 tapes: Two Zero One Seven, Thot Breaker, and Dedication. Sure, he'll probably play the bangers, but fuckers in school and in the barbershop better adjust their expectations.

10. Ski Mask the Slump God. April 30 was a wild night for rap fans. Ski Mask, fed up with his label pushing back the release of his hotly anticipated mixtape The Book of Eli, decided to fire his manager and leak the tape, so he enlisted his Twitch gaming buddy Krazygio to post it on SoundCloud. It was only up for only about ten minutes, but the lucky few who got a taste of it were treated to supersonic rapping, hilarious punch lines, and features from Rich the Kid and Offset, all over Timbaland production. According to Ski Mask, the mixtape will officially drop by Rolling Loud at the latest, and trust when we say his set at the fest will be like Caesar returning from Gaul.

Rolling Loud 2018. Friday, May 11, through Sunday, May 13, at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; rollingloud.com. Tickets cost $393.99 to $934.99 via rollingloud.frontgatetickets.com.

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