Amidst the jubilation of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, Rolling Loud made a triumphant return to its home city of Miami Gardens at the prestigious Hard Rock Stadium. Founded by the visionary duo, Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif, Rolling Loud has successfully captured the hearts of Rap enthusiasts worldwide, leading to its expansion across continents, from North America to Europe and Asia.

This year’s lineup was nothing short of extraordinary, boasting major headliners such as Playboi Carti, Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky. Attendees were treated to electrifying and unexpected performances from the likes of Cardi B and Kai Cenat, while also witnessing the rise of UK sensation, Central Cee, who made an indelible mark on the US music scene. Moreover, the eighth edition of the festival marked a significant moment by welcoming its inaugural Latin artists, El Alfa and Annuel AA, adding a vibrant and diverse flavour to this year’s festivities.

Day 1

Under the blistering Florida heat, Sophie Beeching caught up with some of the line-up. Breakout star, Sexyy Red shared the details of her fit, displaying her custom set, exclusive merch and Uggs –

“I just drew down what I was feeling today and brought it to life.” – Sexyy Red

In a remarkably short time, the St. Louis rapper has catapulted to stardom this year, thanks to her Tay-Keith produced breakout track ‘Poundtown’. Since then she’s caught the attention of major stars, from Travis Scott to Drake, further propelling her success. Notably, Sexyy Red achieved a remarkable milestone by securing a feature from Nicki Minaj on the ‘Poundtown [Remix]’, which became her first entry on the Billboard Hot 100. With these incredible achievements, she has solidified her ascending position in Hip Hop. It is perhaps her authentic and nonchalant attitude that has helped her success. This can even be seen through her style, as she expresses, ‘at first I did have some Gucci heels on but I’m not a heel type of b****’.

Amanda Belawski @respectivecollective

When it comes to style, our attention turned to Hip Hop streetwear icon, Desto Dubb, the visionary behind ‘That’s an Awful Lot of Cough Syrup’. From the depths of a three-year prison sentence to hustling clothes from the back of his van in Downtown Los Angeles, he has emerged as a serial entrepreneur with a multi-million dollar business. His brand has garnered widespread acclaim and is proudly embraced and endorsed by renowned artists like Young Thug, Coi Leray, French Montana and Quavo.

Desto Dubb’s ascent to success has been marked by exciting collaborations, most recently with fellow LA-natives, BlueBucksClan. We spoke with Desto on upcoming plans including a collaboration with Luh Tyler – “last Rolling Loud was the first time I met Luh Tyler, now we’re working on a collaboration together.” Additionally, he unveiled his grand debut at the upcoming New York Fashion Week, where his fashion show will feature a performance by none other than French Montana. Desto Dubb’s impact on the world of streetwear is undeniable, and his trajectory promises even greater heights in the days to come.

In collaboration with The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), Rolling Loud took a significant step this year by launching a powerful PSA aimed at putting an end to the use of Rap lyrics as evidence. On Friday, the festival actively promoted the Restoring Artistic Protections (RAP) Act, with a panel discussion led by Co-Founder Tariq Cherf, BMAC Chair Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Congressman Hank Johnson and Congressman Jamaal Bowman. Stiggers emphasised:

“As we celebrate 50 years of Hip Hop, we must make sure to celebrate and support those fighting to protect the culture.”

After the discussion, a rally was held on the GoPuff Stage to show support for rapper Young Thug and more than 500 other black men who face unjust incarceration. The partnership between Rolling Loud and BMAC showcases the festival’s commitment to advocating for justice within the black music community.

Henry Hwu @henryhwu

Friday also welcomed star performances from the likes of Ice Spice, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black and many more. The Sprite Stage witnessed the infectious energy of Rae Sremmurd performing their new album ‘Sremm 4 Life’ and Playboi Carti closed the night in his authentic Opium style, inviting his signees Ken Carson, Destroy Lonely and Homoxide Gang to the stage. The performance gave an incredible preview to what we can expect from his upcoming ‘Antagonist Tour’.

Day 2

As the festival unfolded, each day brought new excitement and energy. Day 2 saw headliner Travis Scott electrify the audience with the surprise announcement of his highly anticipated album, ‘Utopia,’ and a complementary film titled ‘Circus Maximus.’ Additionally, Hip Hop heavyweight 21 Savage took the stage with special guests Young Nudy and G Herbo, further exacerbating attendees’ excitement.

We spoke with rising superstar, JELEEL!, who has continued to reach new heights of success over the past year. Known for his insane stage energy, backflips, shirt-ripping and unique and versatile sound, the 27 year-old had just come off his ‘Real Raw Energy Tour’ promoting his debut album.

‘‘I feel like I’m seeing you in a different city every week

“I know! First London, now here

Amassing attention worldwide, JELEEL! has continued to go viral with every performance and doesn’t show any indication of stopping. When asked about any crazy tour experience, he replied “Me. I was crazy. Flipping everywhere and being a menace.” JELEEL! was sure not to leave fans disappointed on stage, delivering a phenomenal performance in true ‘JELEEL!-style’ form. When a fan stormed the stage, he demonstrated his pro-wrestling skills, climbing the DJ booth followed by an elbow drop. He later tweeted a video of the dive with the caption, “BRO TRIED TO COME ON STAGE.”

Izzy Nuzzo @izzynuzzophoto

Later that evening, we caught up with Jetlife’s own, Curren$y (aka Spitta Andretti). The New-Orleans nova was fresh off the release of his latest collaborative album with Harry Fraud, ‘VICES’. The album boasts features from Spitta’s rap peers including Benny the Butcher, Larry June, Jim Jones, Tommy Wright III and Rome Streetz. When congratulated on the project, the Louisiana veteran replied,

“Ah thank you man, Harry Fraud is my boy. We’re going to drop the ‘Great McCarthy’ video on Monday and I can’t wait to see what everybody think about it.”

Mickey Pierre-Louis @itchyeyephotos

With other incredible performances from Rolling-Loud natives including, Trippie Redd and Ski Mask the Slump God, it was refreshing to see newcomers like Luh Tyler and Dom Corleo hit the stage. Having recently performed at both Rolling Loud Thailand and Portugal, Florida resident, Robb Bank$, spoke to us about new music, where he draws influence from and future plans.

“I’m focused on dropping good music. I feel like what I make isn’t really being opened up like it should.

Bank$ went on to say, “I’m not into touring right now. I just want to live my life and record. I’ll probably set up a few intimate small shows, maybe three in the US and three overseas. I would love to go back to London for sure.”

As Day 2 came to a close, fueled by the thrilling announcement from Travis, the crowds were filled with anticipation for the final day.

Jessica Padover @jessicapadover

Day 3

As the closing day began, the stage was graced by the perfect blend of Hip-Hop’s rising talents and established stars.

Fresh off the success of his third album ‘FUNERAL’, we caught up with new XXL Freshman, DC The Don. From basketball to music, the 6’7 rising star is known for his versatile flow and hyperpop melodies, awarding him a place on the XXL Freshman Class of 2023. It was the hottest day so far and the artist wore a jumper, jeans and some statement boots as he rushed to his set. It was only right that we asked for a fit-check.

“Rick Owens, Rick Owens, Rick Owens, Hot topic.”

Later on, Tia Corine, a fellow XXL Freshman, took centre stage and captivated the audience, joined by other rising stars like Eem Triplin and BKtherula. Perhaps one of the most inspiring aspects of Rolling Loud is the opportunity to witness talent ascending to stardom with each passing year. Observing their growth over time is undeniably motivating to other young talent.

On the topic of newcomers, one artist who demands attention is none other than Brooklyn’s own, Maiya the Don. Exuding boundless energy and sporting a captivating custom look, the NY femcee shared her excitement about her latest collaboration with Jay Critch, hinted at a potential trip to London, and expressed her deep affection for her devoted fans.

‘I’m very hot, I’m very tired but I gotta be outside because I love y’all. Y’all came out and showed up for me, so imma show up for you’.

Her breakout song, ‘Telfy’, launched the Brooklyn rapper to stardom, followed by other smash hits ‘Dusties’ and ‘Keep it Cute’. New York’s vibrant music scene has witnessed an undeniable surge of female talent, and this year’s Rolling Loud stage showcased a multitude of these remarkable artists. The festival undeniably belonged to the women of Hip Hop, with outstanding performances from the likes of Lola Brooke, Ice Spice, Latto and GloRilla. Adding to the electrifying atmosphere, Offset stole the show and surprised the crowd by bringing out his wife, Cardi B, for a special performance.

Jordan Knight @jordanknight

A$AP Rocky brought the night to a phenomenal close, gracing the stage with special guests $not and ICYTWAT. The fashion icon took centre stage, delivering an electrifying performance featuring tracks from his highly-anticipated album ‘Don’t Be Dumb’. However, it remains uncertain whether the A$AP Mob member was subtly aiming at Travis Scott with his provocative track titled ‘Taylor Swift’. He boldly rapped, “First you stole my flow/ So I stole your b—h/ Then you stole my style/ I need at least 10 percent/ All due disrespect, I hope you take offence,” causing a stir of controversy on social media. Nevertheless, regardless of the lyrical narrative, the NY heavyweight undoubtedly left the crowd in awe, proving once again that he never fails to disappoint.

Henry Hwu @henryhwu

The curtains have drawn on another remarkable Rolling Loud Miami, signalling the conclusion of this year’s festival season, as Rolling Loud New York takes a hiatus. This year treated us to an abundance of viral rap sensations and Hip Hop heavyweights. Featuring three incredible headline performances and a slew of surprise acts and special guests, festival fans were left enthralled and excited for next year.

Words by Sophie Beeching.

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