The Good, the Bad & the Ugly From New York City’s First Rolling Loud Festival [Recap]

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and…
Photo Credit: Henry Hwu & Amal Flower Kay

Photo Credit: Henry Hwu & Amal Flower Kay

New York City hosted it’s first Rolling Loud Festival over the weekend. It was a weekend that had various ups-and-downs and featured performances from the likes of A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, Wu-Tang Clan, and more.

The Good

As expected, Rolling Loud New York City was booked to near-perfection with the exception of a few no-shows.

For every rap subgenre across the spectrum, there were multiple acts to choose from. Griselda Records, Pusha-T, and Dave East held it down for the purists. Rico Nasty, $uicideBoy$, and Denzel Curry set the tone for a weekend filled with mosh pits outside of Citifield. (No, seriously, there were so many mosh pits — even for the artists who weren’t on the ‘punk rap’ side of the spectrum.)

Photo Credit: Julian Taveras

The booking was so extensive, it left many fans with a good problem to have. There were quite a few scheduling conflicts for artists with overlapping fanbases. Before Megan Thee Stallion’s show got pushed back due to issues with travel, she was scheduled in the same time slot as Kash Doll. Jay Critch — though he was absent — was originally scheduled at the same time as Lil Tjay. These are admittedly minor problems in the grand scheme of things.

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To the festival’s credit, many of the artists who were technically undercards were just as worthy of top billing. On Saturday night, the Fashion Nova Stage had Rico Nasty, Ski Mask the Slump God, Gunna, and Playboi Carti all before Travis Scott even took the stage. That lineup alone would void an entire college homecoming weekend’s budget. Having them all in one night — with minimal technical difficulties, no less — was impressive.

Photo Credit: Amal Flower Kay


If the roster wasn’t stacked enough, the biggest acts came with their own guest stars. Fat Joe welcomed The Lox and Remy Ma to the stage on Saturday night. Rico Nasty called 3ohBlack out for his viral single “All Talk.” Young Thug protege Gunna snuck his right-hand man Lil Baby out to help with his Saturday night set, then Thug brought both of them out on Sunday. A$AP Rocky — who had the most notable backstage guest in Rihanna — brought out 50 Cent to close out the festival.

Photo Credit: Emily Gardner

The Bad

The no-shows and cancellations would’ve overshadowed the rest of the weekend if not for the stellar headlining acts. Some of these absences were understandable: we’ve covered DMX’s comeback efforts over the last month, missing one date is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. (The rapper reentered himself into rehab.) Some were unexpected: Trippie Redd was a last-minute scratch, and Jay Critch no-showed. The festival was able to recover, adding Fetty Wap and Lil Pump to the lineup. Unless fans were following along on social media, however, they would’ve been left out in the cold. 


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The Ugly

The story of the weekend was easily the NYPD’s involvement. It was unsurprising but still disappointing to see that Pop Smoke, Casanova, 22Gz, Sheff G, and Don Q were effectively forced out of their shows. 

Rolling Loud founder Tariq Cherif tweeted that the festival would likely not be allowed to return to the city if they didn’t comply with the department’s suggestion.

Photo credit: Kenneth Dapaah

Fortunately, there was no shortage of homegrown talent on stage this weekend: A Boogie, Kemba, Lil Tjay, and Lil Tecca, amongst others, had solid sets. However, It’s hard to come away from the weekend feeling like it’s possible for the city to give the local rap scene a fair shake in 2019. Every time Pop Smoke’s “Welcome to the Party” played over the speakers, there were mini-stampedes in anticipation. It felt anticlimactic that the crowd never got the chance to hear the Song of the Summer performed. 

Photo Credit: Amal Flower Kay

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