Day 1: Disbelief
MIAMI – Hours before the doors even opened, fans filled the sidewalks, shoulder to shoulder, anxiously waiting to enter the Hard Rock Stadium grounds for Rolling Loud Miami. With five giant stages – two of them being nearly a mile away from each other – fans rapidly dispersed to their desired location to catch their favorite acts perform live and kick off another Rolling Loud.
Whether it was KayCyy singing his heart out and setting the initial tone for the Ciroc stage — which hosted all of the headliners — or SSGkobe rocking out at the dome-covered Monster Stage with echoing sonic you can feel – the early performers and their loyal fan bases were as live as any.
As the concerts continued, more people started flooding into the festival as the energy and crowd sizes doubled by the hour. Acts like Ken Car$on, Destroy Loney, Sheck Wes and $NOT had their cult-like audiences jumping and screaming along to every song. While artists like Fivio Foreign, 2 Chainz, Don Toliver, Lil Yachty and G Herbo played their mainstream bangers, as fans watched and sang along in awe as they took in a true bucket list moment.
It wasn’t till around 9 p.m. that the sky began to darken, the lights on the stages got brighter, crowds grew to be as large as the eye could see and things were about to take a giant turn. The Ciroc stage filled with hundreds of thousands of people eagerly waiting for Playboi Carti to make his entrance on stage. Just minutes later, a piercing, almost demonic-sounding screech that could be heard from miles away filled the night sky and that’s when fans began to sprint into the already packed crowd.
Listeners, including myself, were ready to become possessed in Carti’s nearly ritualistic concert as everyone hustled closer to the stage. Carti’s set had a full band which enhanced his demonic-sounding cries, while fans screamed and air-strummed along to each song as mosh pits began to flurry.
After Carti’s wild set, fans had to make a decision – Kid Cudi or Lil Durk. The entire Rolling Loud audience separated into two teams, as I and thousands of others made their way to the GoPuff stage to see Lil Durk perform. Little did we know this was the best decision we could have made all weekend long. The day one headliner, Kid Cudi entered the stage and ended up playing three songs before he got hit in the head with a water bottle. With anger in his voice — and rightly so — Cudi warned the crowd that if something is thrown at him again, he was leaving. Seconds later, a water bottle was thrown on stage. Cudi left and didn’t return as festival-goers’ jaws dropped — standing in utter disbelief.
Prior to Cudi’s departure, Lil Durk assembled a headliner-type crowd as large as any performance from this past weekend. But just minutes after half of Rolling Loud watched Cudi leave the stage, I was made aware via a Rolling Loud discord group chat. Before I could even comprehend the Cudi situation, a familiar figure appeared on stage at Durk’s set. Then, his voice boomed througout the speakers. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t feel real.
The entire crowd pulled out their phones and began shoving forward. Camera lights scattered the terrain as screams of joy filled the air because Kanye West was on stage. As my friend and I raced closer, I took a quick look back and in the distance, you could see thousands of people stampeding in the direction of the stage — assuming most were coming from Cudi’s broken set.
Kanye came out rapping his verse from his new track “Hot Sh*t” with Lil Durk and Cardi B. After fans finally came to realize that this was real life and Kanye was actually here, he played his iconic “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.” The crowd went insane — singing word-for-word, jumping with glee and taking in this moment in time not a single fan would ever forget.
Day 2: Surpise, surprise
Calling Day 1 of Rolling Loud Miami “crazy” would be an understatement, yet fans were ready to do it all over again on Day 2. I showed up a little later than I would have liked, due to poor planning and underestimating the overall beast that the Rolling Loud traffic and crowds truly are. I walked in before Gucci Mane took the stage, as his ginormous crowd continued to grow by the second. Minutes later Guwop took the stage, the crowd went absolutely nuts. Gucci would go on to play his legendary discography but towards the end of his set, he teased fans with a few special guests. The uncle and nephew duo Quavo and Takeoff popped out on stage and began to perform “Slippery” in their surprise performance.
While fans had a plethora of exciting acts to choose from on RL Day 2, it seemed as if regardless of the stage they were on each crowd was packed to the brim. As I made my way to Key Glock, I stopped and checked out three songs from Detroit up-and-comer Babytron. While the amount of crowd space was limited at the VH1 stage, Babytron still drew in a massive crowd, packed like sardines, as he turned up with his homies (Shitty Boyz). After Tron, I continued my Trek to Glizock and when I arrived, I was welcomed to an already massive audience with an abundance of raw energy.
I watched as my friends sprinted into the crowd and in seconds vanished into the pit of screaming fans singing along to Mr.Glock. On the other side of the grounds were Ka$hdami and Tana — performing back to back at the Snipes stage — as both young talents brought in their loyal underground audiences and raged for two straight sets.
After Key Glock, I made my way to the main stage to catch none other than fellow Miami native Ski Mask The Slump God. Personally, this was a show I could not have been more excited about. Once arriving at Ski’s set, you could instantly feel the energy and liveliness in the air, as fans were more than ready to turn up with one of Florida’s own. Once Ski stepped on the stage with DJ Scheme, they made sure everyone in the audience was okay before they kicked off their performance.
Ski’s set was something truly special. Not only was it fun, energetic and beyond entertaining, but filled with emotion. Ski and Scheme paid tribute to two of their close friends and Hip-Hop’s most iconic stars, Miami legend XXXTENTACION and Chicago superstar Juice Wrld. The crowd came together as one and sang their hearts away to songs like “Jocelyn Flores,” “SAD!” and “Lucid Dreams.” Ski also made a few dreams come true for two Make a Wish Kids to come sing along with him on stage. To continue his inspiring performance, Ski brought out X’s son Gekyume to help him kick off a song as well. Ski would go on to perform his song “Take a Step Back” and “Nuketown” which had the crowd going absolutely nuts.
While Ski’s legendary performance was something that fans, including myself, would remember forever, the night was truly just getting started. As I watched fans head to GoPuff’s stage for Polo G’s set, I and plenty of others stayed back and watched as the crowd began to grow bigger, as we all anxiously waited for hip-hop superstar Lil Uzi Vert to make his entrance.
Within minutes, Uzi came out with extremely baggy clothes, a giant neon backpack and their signature tall spiky hair that they’ve been rocking as of recently. Uzi had his crowd absolutely lit as usual – jumping, screaming, and singing their lungs out to his bangers “Do What I Want,” “XO Tour Life,” “Pop,” “Myron” and some of his new songs off their Red & White EP such as “SPACE CADET” and “Final Fantasy.” One specific moment that stuck out to me was the roar of excitement from the crowd when the intro to “Money Longer” faded into the air. It felt as if the whole audience took a trip back to 2016 like we were just hearing it for the first time again.
While the Ciroc stage had two headliner-like performances back-to-back (i.e both The Slump God and Baby Pluto), it was now time for the actual day 2 headliner to perform and fans were ready. Future, Mr. Hendrix, Pluto, whatever you’d like to call him was ready to put on one of the best performances of the weekend. Not only did he emerge to perform his legendary bangers and leave the crowd starstruck, the superstar also brought out a couple of pals of his. When Lil Durk came out performing “AHHH HA,” the crowd went crazy and fans began turning up and singing along, phones rose to the air and the energy was immaculate once more.
Following Durk’s entrance, Future went on to perform “F*ck Up Some Commas” — in that moment, I truly didn’t think this overall set could get any better. Until, five minutes later, a familiar scream entered the air, someone ran on stage and that is when the crowd absolutely erupted. Travis Scott stood tall at stage center, as you could physically feel the energy shift between fans. Phones shot up in the air, people began screaming, jumping and pushing forward, as I watched the crowds around me unfold into circles of mosh pits.
Day 3: Curtain call
While the majority of Rolling Loud’s attendees were most likely exhausted from the first two days of the Florida heat, raging, going nuts over surprise guests, lack of food and water and everything in between, fans were still ready to take on the final day.
I arrived at the Ciroc stage as Tyla Yaweh was finishing his set. Next was Baby Keem, who although early in his career as a mainstream artist, drew in an impressively sized crowd that was going absolutely wild for his performance. After Keem killed his show and set the lively tone for the Ciroc stage, Florida legend and fan favorite Kodak Black took the stage. Having never seen Yak perform live before, I think the craziest thing I took away from his set was the glimmer in some of his fans’ eyes and the absolute praise his hometown crowd gave him during his performance.
Kodak gives off such a veteran vibe due to his extremely successful discography, which has fans singing along to every song word for word. But the best thing I realized when watching Kodak Black is that he’s only 25 years old — making hits for the better part of eight years.
Now, arguably one of, if not the most highly-anticipated, sets all weekend was from rap’s current kingpin, Lil Baby. The Atlanta superstar put on one of the best performances all weekend long. His crowd control was unreal and had the audience doing everything from rapping verbatim, jumping, moshing and essentially enthralled thousands of fans. After seeing Baby live, it’s evident how much of a chokehold he has on rap’s current soundscape.
I, and what seemed like all of Rolling Loud, then made the journey to the GoPuff stage to watch genre-bending artist Trippe Redd give his 2022 Rolling Loud performance. At this point, it’s simply tradition that Trippie performs at Rolling Loud. As soon as Trippie set foot on stage, the crowd erupted and had a similar intensity and passion as the audiences at the Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert performances. The Big 14 artist had the crowd going insane with moshpits opening up front to back and fans screaming the lyrics to tracks like “Miss the Rage” and Holy Smokes.” Trippie even surprised fans and brought out Polo G to perform their song “Rich MF.”
After Trippie delivered his beyond stellar performance, all of Rolling Loud made their way back to the Ciroc stage to catch the Rolling Loud grand finale featuring Kendrick Lamar. As soon as Kendrick made his way on stage, I took a look around to take in the chaos of the crowd — stretching from the front of the stage all the way towards the exit of the event. Kendricks’s set was nothing short of spectacular — from the many people in plastic hazmat suits behind him, the blazing lights and flames that you could feel — it was nothing less than you’d expect from Kendrick Lamar.
Not only were fans treated to the live performance and gravitational presence of K-Dot himself, but Kendrick also treated fans to special guest performances from Kodak Black and Baby Keem. Yak joined Kendrick to perform their collaboration track “Silent Hill” off Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, while Baby Keem who performed on the stage just hours before made his entrance and performed their 2021 cousin-anthem “Family Ties.” The mosh pits were alive at the front of the stage for both performances, while many others jumped with joy or sat and enjoyed this overall legendary performances.
Simply put, Rolling Loud Miami 2022 was something I will truly never forget. Not only because of the outstanding performances, unbelievable surprise guests, electric atmosphere, legendary crowds and the amazing group I attended with, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of people united as one — all because of a shared love for music.