Rolling Loud 2018 landed at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Friday (May 11). The weekend-long festival showcases the best in hip-hop’s past, present and future with acts spread across the day on three different stages. The annual event has been the go-to concert for hip-hop fans with its stellar lineup and beautiful locale. With the festival in its fourth year and finding its home in a new location, co-founders Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif look to deliver the biggest and best party of the year.
The line-up for day one featured performances by J. Cole, Playboi Carti, Jaden Smith, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and more. The festival grounds had everything from a delicious selection of food to a huge Ferris wheel that provided a stunning view of the entire setting of Rolling Loud. The Florida sun beamed its hot rays on concertgoers as people maneuvered through the festival grounds trying to get a glimpse of their favorite artists.
To go along with the positive energetic vibes, Rolling Loud had its fair share of highlights. With this being one of the biggest weekends in hip-hop, those in attendance were bound to leave the night with a gang of memories. Take a look at six highlights from day one.
Young Dolph Treats Fired Duke University Baristas at Rolling Loud
Earlier in the week, Britni Brown and Kevin Simmons, baristas at a Duke University campus coffee shop, lost their jobs for playing Young Dolph’s “Get Paid” over the store’s speakers. Young Dolph took to Twitter to voice his opinion on the matter, but he didn’t stop there.
The Memphis MC flew the two baristas out to Miami to catch his set Friday night. As if the free concert tickets and airfare weren’t enough, Dolph took another step forward to show his appreciation for the baristas. “So check this out, this what we gon do. I know for a fact that the VP at that school get money, but he don’t get money like Dolph,” said Dolph to a raucous crowd. “So until y’all get a new job, I got $20,000 for y’all right now.”
Bringing the two on stage, Dolph preceded to give the individuals $20,000 straight from his pocket. The crowd roared in approval as Young Dolph embraced the two in a touching moment.
Lil Uzi Vert Returns With Another High-Flying Performance
Lil Uzi Vert’s 20-foot leap at last year’s Rolling Loud stole the show, so when word got out that he would be performing at this year's festival, people were wondering what he was going to do to top that. Uzi took to the stage performing his hits including “Sauce It Up,” “wokeuplikethis,” “Sideline Watching (Hold Up),” and “XO Tour Llif3.”
Halfway into the set, Uzi found himself amongst the crowd and ended up on one of the tents stationed in the audience. Uzi made the climb up to the top, with all the cell phone flashlights focused on the MC. Making the sign of the cross, Uzi leaped into the crowd and was engulfed by the sea of people. Uzi has been making his claim as one of the best live performers in this era, and his Rolling Loud set was proof of that.
@LILUZIVERT @RollingLoud HIGHLIGHT OF FRIDAY NIGHT FOR SURE ---- !!!! pic.twitter.com/xW4D6CTHRw— (♡˙︶˙♡) (@actually_cierra) May 12, 2018
Playboi Carti Surprises the Crowd With A$AP Rocky
Fresh off the release of his debut album Die Lit, Playboi Carti hit the stage to one of the biggest crowds of the night. Performing hits off his debut mixtape and the new album Die Lit, Carti had the crowd and night at the palm of his hands. The highlight of his set came when “A$AP Forever” boomed through the speakers.
Cell phones flashes turned on and the crowd grew rabid as A$AP Rocky made his appearance on stage. The crowd busted at the seams as the beat dropped and Flacko and Carti owned the stage going through their hits, including “Telephone” and “New Choppa.”
Young Thug Runs Through His Bag of Hits
Young Thug delivered one of the better sets of the night at Rolling Loud on Friday. The “Beautiful Girls” rapper ran through his long catalog of hits, including “Best Friend,” “Tomorrow Til Infinity” and “Digits,” with fans rapping along word for word. The turnout for Young Thug was incredible as people were stuck like sardines trying to get a better view of the Atlanta MC.
The vibe in the air was buzzing so much that Thugga mentioned it was his first time performing in front of an audience like this. As the crowd roared in approval, Thugger dialed up the momentum and kept the fans enticed with his high-octane performances.
N.E.R.D. Gets Weird and Takes a Stand at Rolling Loud
N.E.R.D’s set at Rolling Loud was a touching and moving experience. Serving as one of the three closing acts on Friday, N.E.R.D left fans with an amazing performance. Fans were taken on a full-course ride from beginning to end. Fans got lost in the music as performances of “Anti Matter,” “Everyone Nose,” “Spaz” and more rang through Hard Rock Stadium.
In the middle of the set, Pharrell made it known that this wasn’t a show for the fans who know Skateboard P for his work in hip-hop. “I know you want to hear the hip-hop shit but we’re getting fucking weird tonight. This is for the people with the green hair, gold teeth, piercings everywhere,” he said.
While shouting out “the weirdos”, P also voiced his opinions on everything that’s been happening with this country. “I’m tired of all the white nationalist bullshit. I’m tired of them treating Latinos like they’re fucking dispensable. Every time we perform a song on this stage tonight we’re doing it for the most beautiful species on the fucking planet, our brothers and sisters,” Pharrell shouted.
The performance was taken to another level as N.E.R.D invited James Shaw Jr.-- the hero who prevented a gunman from wreaking further havoc in a Waffle House in Tennessee -- on stage. “This is what we do it for. This guy right here is a hero. He’s is a real dude,” said Pharrell.
J. Cole Wraps Up Day 1 With an Explosive Outing
As we all know, J. Cole’s fan base is extremely passionate and loyal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to view the Dreamville MC in action. Friday night was no different as fans ran to the High Hemp Stage leaving other performances early to get a good spot to view Cole’s performance.
The set opened with a booming performance of “KOD” off Cole’s critically acclaimed fifth studio album. After that, he wasted no time diving into “Motiv8,” “Kevin’s Heart” and “ATM.” The crowd also got to go down memory lane as Cole pulled out his classics like “Work Out,” “Déjà Vu” and a fan-assisted rendition of “Power Trip.”
The highlight of the night came when the crowd pleaded with Cole to perform the fan-favorite “1985 (Intro to ‘The Fall Off’)” given the fact that Lil’ Pump, who fans believe the track is directed to, was in attendance. As the anticipation grew and chants of “Fuck Lil’ Pump” began to fill the air, Cole quickly put an end to it, telling the crowd to stop.
But in a quick troll Cole gave the crowd exactly what they wanted and performed the record a capella. With no help providing straight bars throughout, Cole spit the verse from beginning to end effortlessly with a huge ovation from the crowd, exuding the lyrical dominance we have all been accustomed to seeing from him since his inception.
J. Cole feels a way about mumble rappers. We caught his performance Friday night at @RollingLoud. More IG stories: https://t.co/MYLmzECWyW pic.twitter.com/JgnuEKMuhB— CLTure ( culture ) (@CLTure) May 12, 2018