When it comes to performing large-scale hip-hop and rap concerts, Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler, the co-founders of the global music festival Rolling Loud, are among the most used in the industry. For the Halloween weekend of 2021, the three-day event went back to NYC’s Citi Field for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing more than 80,000 fans to watch electrifying performances from some of hip – hop’s biggest emcees.
Distributed at the Queens venue were three stages – Deleón, Audiomack and Punx – where enthusiastic fans gathered for high-energy performances. Colorful and interactive installations added to the atmosphere and included a swing tour, a haunted house hosted by 300 Entertainment, a massive Rolling Loud welcome gate adorned with giant blow-up aliens, a skate park, a half basketball court, a special Rolling Loud grain bar, various merch- tents and local food trucks.
Day one started the weekend with hard-hitting sets from established artists like Rico Nasty, Joey Bada $$, Jack Harlow, Lil Uzi Vert, Gunna and 50 Cent. Great moments came from Jack Harlow, who brought Lil Nas X to a live performance of their popular track “INDUSTRY BABY.” 50 Cent delighted the audience by playing many of his iconic songs, including “21 Questions” and “In Da Club”, all the while inviting hometown hero A $ AP Rocky, Ski Mask the Slump God, Rick Ross and DaBaby on stage to each performance a song.
Momentum continued on day two, with Wale, Rick Ross, City Girls, Trippie Redd, Playboi Carti, Kodak Black and J. Cole performing fascinating sets. Wale brought out Q-Tip to perform “Vivrant Thing” while Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert reunited on stage to play their song “Shoota”. The low season the artist blessed the contestants with all his hits from “No Role Modelz”, including “A Lot” and “The London”, and brought his other Dreamville-signed JID, Lute and Bass on stage.
On day three, fans were provided with exciting performances from Sheck Wes, A $ AP Ferg, NAV and Travis Scott, who sustained a leg injury on stage during his last Rolling Loud appearance in 2019. True to form, Scott closed the event with an impressive show , which gives live energy to songs like “SICKO MODE”, “MAMACITA”, “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” and “BUTTERFLY EFFECT.” It is noteworthy that Scott dropped a new song that is expected to appear on his long-awaited album Utopia.
Still, not everything went smoothly. Fetty Wap, Lil Durk, Chief Keef and NLE Choppa did not reach their regular times, while BIA and Megan Thee Stallion’s actions were pulled at the last minute without compensation. Meanwhile, Bobby Shmurda and Roddy Ricch’s set was unexpectedly interrupted, and Roddy Ricch said it might be the last time he performs on Rolling Loud.
Despite its challenges, it is clear that Cherif and Zingler have found a winning formula to highlight the greatest hip-hop talent. We look forward to next year’s event where more organization, better production and greater transparency regarding pulled acts can bring it closer to playing in the same league as other global music festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury and Camp Flog Gnaw.