How to sum up day two of New York’s inaugural Rolling Loud? For one thing, the weather was even cooler on Sunday (Oct. 13). It’s a mystery why there aren’t more cool weather. Seeing scores of your favorite artists while not sweating your ass off? Yes, please.
There was some early, sad news, that New York titan DMX had withdrawn from Sunday’s lineup and checked into rehab for substance abuse; the Ruff Ryders big dog was missed. Still, the omission of even an iconic artist can hardly dent a bill that was insanely stacked. When stars as major as Pusha T, Action Bronson, Machine Gun Kelly and Young Thug are early evening, second or third line artists, you know Rolling Loud is the be-all of hip-hop festivals.
If Saturday brought upstarts, legends, superstars and some police-fueled drama, much of Sunday played as a jukebox of hits that have defined 2019 in hip-hop. Juice WRLD’s “Robbery,” Lil Tecca’s “Ran$om,” Lil Mosey’s “Noticed,” A Boogie’s “Look Back At It,” Young Thug’s “The London” and DaBaby’s “Suge” could be heard across the Citi Field complex, and, though delayed, Megan Thee Stallion made it in time to bring some much-needed female energy. Here are some Sunday highlights:
Dave East Brings New York Culture to Rolling Loud
Harlem can claim him, Queens can claim him – but really, Dave East’s life and sensibility is all of New York. Nas signed him, his hero Styles P has collaborated with him, in his alternate life as an actor he’s playing none other than Method Man on the Hulu series on Wu-Tang Clan, and the lyrical slinger brought an unadorned realness to an afternoon set on the Dryp stage. “Type of Time” asserts “I did a lot but I never hated,” and on “Found a Way” he concludes, “I had to sacrifice for this life, but I found a way.” As for having an all hip-hop mega festival in his own backyard, East told Billboard, “I feel that like they’ve got to come to New York. This is where the culture was created. Not taking away from nowhere else, but I appreciate the festival creators for coming here, because it’s something that the Tri-State needed.”
Tecca’s Triple Play
How Lil Tecca manages to thread the needle between lovable and raw – and still keep it all a party – is something to see. The breakout New York teen’s star power and skills were on display three times on Sunday: first, during his own irresistible set in which, in front of the spinning globe of his We Love You Tecca mixtape art, he owned the stage like few 17-year-olds can, on songs alternately boastful and girl crazy – “Left, Right”, “Out of Luck” and his signature “Ran$om.” Two hours later, he was back on the same stage, joining fellow New Yorker A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on their new collab “Somebody,” and not long after that, during Juice WRLD’s set, for the “Ran$om” remix on which the Chicago star appears. Tecca’s months-long rise has been remarkable, and is surely only getting started.
The Afternoon Sprint Featuring Tyla Yaweh, Denzel Curry, Lil Mosey and A Boogie
The layout of the Rolling Loud site had the larger stages, Dryp and Fashion Nova, just far enough apart that there was no sound bleed (although Meek Mill fans might disagree, such was the volume of Travis Scott’s Saturday night set), but close enough that you can move at a good clip from one to the other. Also, no festival fans run faster than Rolling Loud fans, so sprinting between the two seemed to be a thing on Sunday afternoon, for a virtual nonstop sequence of some of young rap’s most essential artists.
Tyla Yaweh, the melodic Floridian who’s been on a slow and steady rise, brought sublime vibes to his “High Right Now,” and as a friend of XXXTentacion was one of several at RL paying tribute to the rapper. Denzel Curry, who’s gone from good to great with his two albums TA13OO and ZUU, turned in a set that included the singalong “Black Balloons” and a surprisingly light take on the tortured “Clout Cobain.”
He was followed on the Dryp stage by Lil Mosey, whose “Noticed” was an unforgettable summertime earworm, while back on Fashion Nova it was another New York success story: The Bronx’s A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, among the best there is at finessing Gen Z’s rap-sung dynamic, and whose “Look Back At It” is one of the most enduring tracks of the past year.
DaBaby Brings Out Inflated Infants
“That ain’t the baby, that’s my baby” goes the cutie-pie sample from DaBaby’s 2017 track “Number 2,” and while that phrase peppered his Sunday set, the Charlotte rapper with the newborn nickname is very much enjoying adult success. The fickle, fleeting world of hip-hop declares a new “new thing” nearly every month, but there’s no denying Jonathan Kirk is having a next-level year, particularly since the recent release of the LP Kirk, and the fact that it’s happening for him at 27 should give hope to any aspiring rapper who’s left their teens.
Still, on an utterly mobbed Fashion Nova stage in the late afternoon, Dababy leaned into his infantile moniker. He followed his monster “Suge” by bringing out two bizarre-looking “babies” – presumably actual humans in inflatable costumes – to bounce around for “Baby On Baby” and “Baby Sitter” – tunes, it’s safe to say, that aren’t for little kids.
How to Be in Three Places at Once Featuring A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert & Megan Thee Stallion
What if you’re chronically indecisive, three unmissable acts are all on at the same time, and you try to see them all? The answer: it’s exhausting, and of questionable good sense. As on night one, during which headliners Travis Scott and Meek Mill were scheduled against one another, Sunday offered another quandary: hometown hero A$AP Rocky’s first proper New York set (he appeared on stage with Tyler, the Creator last month at Madison Square Garden) since his summer arrest in Sweden, or one of the most compelling artists in all of hip-hop, Lil Uzi Vert?
And to add more madness to this scenario, Megan Thee Stallion, apparently due to a missed flight, had her afternoon set pushed back, also to 9pm, on RL’s third stage. Undeterred, we tried it. Uzi’s scheduled set time began a whole five minutes earlier than the others, enough time to see a dazzling opening with “Sanguine Paradise” to thunderous acclaim. No time to linger though, as it was off to run to the jammed press pit at the giant stage for A$AP’s entrance. What an entrance it was: blinding lights, a giant subway car on screen marked destination Harlem, and Rakim bounding down the runway into the masses, joined by a score of scarily masked cohorts who promptly dove into the crowd. “A$AP Forever” led to “Praise the Lord,” at which point media was promptly ushered out of the pit.
Time to high-tail it over the Sauce stage, where Hot Girl Meg was mid-“Simon Says.” Clad in a Gucci top and cap, flanked by television-shaped screens, soon the 2019 queen was picking women from the crowd – plus at least one “hot boy” in a pink visor – to come on stage and twerk to the irrepressible “Cash Shit.”
Back on Dryp, Uzi’s faithful were treated to pyro, skeletons and skulls for closer “XO Tour Lif3” – while A$AP continued. Guests were in abundance for what amounted to a stirring tribute to our great city: Ferg had joined in, as well as Staten Island’s G4 Boyz, there was a Dipset cover (Jim Jones himself had played RL earlier in the night) and finally, Queens legend 50 Cent. “King of New York,” one You Tube comment declared of Rocky after the performance. Many have, and do, lay claim to that title, but on this night, tens of thousands would not dispute it.
Finally, here’s a thing that sets New York apart from other Rolling Louds: we’re pretty sure that in Miami and L.A. you don’t have thousands of fans heading home in a 7 train, making its way west towards Manhattan, wedged in like sardines, but blissed out, chanting “U-zi! U-zi!!” You better believe we love our town.