It took Rolling Loud just two years after its 2015 inception for the festival to stretch its arms outside of its original location of Miami, Florida. The massive hip-hop festival, which debuted to critical acclaim, allowed rap fans from all over to come to one location and see a playlist worth of their favorite artists perform over the course of three days. Yes, a bit of running from stage to stage is needed, but many would say it’s all worth it in the name of knocking a few must-see artists off of the bucket list. In 2017, Rolling Loud added cities in California as festival locations, and two years later, Sydney, Australia, and New York City joined the aforementioned spots as locations to house Rolling Loud.
As of 2022, Rolling Loud has or will make stops in Miami, Inglewood, New York City, Toronto, The Netherlands, and Portugal. In the midst of this expansion, Rolling Loud hasn’t had the smoothest string of moments – especially over the last year. After letting off homophobic comments at last year’s Miami festival, DaBaby’s return in Los Angeles was far from welcomed. Kid Cudi cut his performance short in Miami this year after fans threw objects at him as he performed. Additionally, a gun was reportedly fired at the Toronto showcase in July. Bumps in the road are to be expected, but so are smooth stretches, and it’s the latter that Rolling Loud New York 2022 was aiming for.
This year’s New York festival was headlined by Nicki Minaj, ASAP Rocky, and Future. It also featured performances from big names like Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Moneybagg Yo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Uzi Vert, and Pusha T as well as newer acts hoping to expand their audiences like Armani White, Kali, Jeleel!, GloRilla, TiaCorine, Lakeyah, and Symba. Rolling Loud New York’s goal to have a smooth and mostly uninterrupted festival was quickly nixed as the NYPD reportedly forced them to remove three acts – 22Gz, Ron Suno, and Sha Ek – from the showcase prior to its start due to concerns that their appearances could increase the chance of violence at Rolling Loud. The NYPD pulled a similar move in 2019 with 22Gz, who later performed in 2021, as well as the late Pop Smoke.
If the NYPD was involved, the removal of 22Gz, Ron Suno, and Sha Ek isn’t something that Rolling Loud is truly at fault for. With the additional unfortunate events that occurred at this year’s New York show, there wasn’t too much that organizers could be blamed for. A big pain point for this year’s festival was the absence and tardiness of scheduled performers. Headliners Nicki Minaj and ASAP Rocky were late for their respective sets by well over a half hour, and as a result, they both had their sets cut short due to New York’s late-night curfew for shows. Minaj concluded with an acapella performance of “Moment 4 Life,” while Rocky expressed his frustrations for his performance being cut before apologizing for his underwhelming closing to day two. Future was about 20 minutes late to his headlining performance, which was cut short after a few songs and an appearance from Offset thanks to a brutal rainstorm that sparked a “code red” from Rolling Loud and a request for attendees to immediately exit the premises.
These pains didn’t stop with the headliners, they also trickled down to other performers over the weekend. Playboi Carti was also late to his performance while 21 Savage’s own was canceled for unknown reasons. The rapper was certainly frustrated by whatever went down behind the scenes as he tweeted on day three, “Rolling Loud will never get a show out of me ever again.” To round things out, Ski Mask The Slump God and Big Sean were also no shows at this year’s New York festival. Frustrations about all the absences and long waits were aired out on social media, leaving the organizers to reportedly respond to them onstage. “Don’t be mad at us! Be mad at the artists being late,” Rolling Loud organizers told fans according to one attendee. There’s certainly some truth to that, to say the least.
Despite all of this, Rolling Loud 2022 New York had just enough to make the bad feel not so bad. Starting with the headliners, Nicki Minaj’s guests that included Fivio Foreign, Bia, G Herbo, and Lil Uzi Vert made for an enjoyable set despite its brevity. ASAP Rocky performed very promising songs from his next album and Future seemed ready to knock his set out of the park to close the weekend. Elsewhere, Lil Tjay made a triumphant return on day one as he was all smiles during his first performance since was shot seven times back in June. Toosii was a joy to watch as he stepped off the stage to join the crowd on several occasions for his performance. Lil Uzi Vert turned things into a party as expected and Lil Baby was commanding as always through his set. Pusha T, a known critic of tardiness, was extremely punctual for his performance, coming out on stage right at his 8:20 pm start time to kick off what was an assertive, confident, and overall excellent performance. Saint Jhn, Don Toliver, Jeleel!, and Lancey Foux also join the list of performers who shined.
To the average music fan who attended Rolling Loud’s 2022 New York Festival – that is someone who wasn’t there for one or two specific artists – you most likely left just short of satisfied. Things certainly could have been worse just as much as they could have been better. In more ways than one, both literally and figuratively, Rolling Loud’s 2022 New York Festival had its parade rained on. However, if you were willing to venture out and explore, there was some fun to be had in the rain. Strong options between activations and food trucks made for decent opportunities to boost your morale while a massive section for artist merchandise made it almost guaranteed that you could leave the premises with something to remember the weekend by. In short, Rolling Loud tried their best to put on a great festival, but the powers that be proved to have a stronger arm in the matter. Maybe changes are in order for the festival, maybe not, but one thing is for sure: artists could help in making the weekend go better. It’s something to keep in mind as Rolling Loud gears up to shift its attention to Inglewood next spring.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.