Cardi B wasn’t the only one Offset made uncomfortable with his antics at Rolling Loud this past weekend. I could feel it around me in the crowd, a palpable tension that caused a shuffling of the feet and the exchange of nervous glances. What is he doing?
Sure, some of the 40,000 fans in attendance participated in the “take him back” chant led by Offset and 21 Savage on Friday night — all young men, it should be noted. But mostly, there was a sense of distress and mild embarrassment. We understood: You messed up, you want to make amends. But this? This was not what anyone paid to see.
What most of the attendees did pay to see was a showcase of rap’s rising talents and for the most part, that’s exactly what they received. I proudly watched Uproxx picks like Reason, Roddy Ricch, Rexx Life Raj, Tobi Lou, and Kash Doll come into their own, controlling the massive crowds like putty in their hands. That some of them were making their festival debuts only made their stagecraft all the more evident and impressive. Lil Wayne, headlining Friday’s show, ran expertly through his massive collection of hits, barely scratching the surface in a set truncated by a late start and LA’s firmly-established curfew. I genuinely left wanting more, which is a bit of a rarity after a full day of festivities.
Despite that fact, the first day of the two-day fest was plagued by a few of the same logistical issues that frustrated fans at September’s iteration in the Bay Area. Barriers and rules seemed mutable and inconsistent and on more than one occasion, press was blocked from the photo pit or other sections for no apparent reason. We were given conflicting instructions by event staff who seemed as confused as we were by the constant reshuffling, and crushed by the insistent shoving of the thousands of young fans pushing their way to the front of the stage. Generally, I’ve always avoided the middle sections of crowds for just this reason, but on Friday night I was reminded exactly why. Fortunately, it seemed as though staff learned on the fly the second day; some retail was removed from near the Zen stage, allowing more room for the crowd to spread out and alleviate the overcrowding.
Of the sets we took in over the weekend, I found myself astonished the most by the sheer magnetism of Ski Mask The Slump God, whose lyrics the crowd seemed to know word-for-word, despite their velocity and complexity. Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla Sign, and Nipsey Hussle all turned in magnificent performances backed by bands, which only proves that more rappers should invest in some live backing, which provides that extra oomph that stage shows should always bring.