Lil Wayne (photo: Regidor Biala)
Rap festival Rolling Loud 2017 brought the ruckus to Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater over the weekend, featuring some of the genre’s biggest names (Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage) and rising up-and-comers (Trippie Redd, Famous Dex), including a select handful of local artists (P-Lo, Rexx Life Raj, SOB x RBE, Marty Grimes) to hold it down for the home turf.
The two-day event was a rip-roaring showcase of a Rap Caviar playlist come to life. Throughout the day, trap beats rattled both the Loud and WAV stages, fans shouted along with their favorite artists and dozens of water bottles were emptied over people pressed against the stage barriers (Smokepurpp actually threw a cake). People crowd-surfed and moshed all for the sake of new-age rap.
The headliners lived up to their status on the bill: Saturday night, Travis Scott rode the signature bird contraption he debuted during Kendrick Lamar‘s DAMN tour and performed fan favorites “Butterfly Effect,” “Goosebumps,” and “Antidote” plus his feature in SZA‘s “Love Galore.” Lil Uzi Vert rallied through his own hits “Do What I Want,” “Money Longer,” and “Neon Guts,” and shared the stage with fellow Rolling Loud roster mates Playboi Carti and G Herbo before topping off his set with “XO Tour Liif3” (for added oomph, Uzi threw the mic after the track finished and coerced the crowd to perform the hit song themselves).
On Sunday, Lil Wayne‘s set list of rap classics, which included “Rich as Fuck,” “6’7,”, “Got Money,” “Lollipop,” “The Motto,” “Mrs. Officer,” and “Every Girl,” merely skimmed his catalog but reinforced his stature as a pioneer of this generation’s brand of hip-hop. And though Weezy might have paved the way, Isaiah Rashad (The Sun’s Tirade, Cilvia Demo) and ScHoolboy Q (Oxymoron, Blank Face EP) reminded us why TDE currently sits at the top of rap’s empire. Young Thug — who released his collaborative project with Future, Super Slimey, just days before — ran through his own defining tracks: “With Them,” “Pick Up the Phone,” “Thief in the Night,” and “Slime Shit.” He opened with Super Slimey‘s “Three,” perhaps hinting that the two Atlanta rappers may take their album on tour.
For all the free-wheeling fun, however, Rolling Loud wasn’t without controversy. Right before his Saturday performance on the WAV stage, Lil B the Based God — beloved Berkeley rapper and Twitter preacher — was jumped by A Boogie With a Hoodie, PNB Rock, and their crews. True to his nature, the Based God refused to retaliate and instead preached a message of forgiveness, love, and positivity to his fans. Several of Rolling Loud’s artists came to his defense on stage and through Twitter (namely Rexx Life Raj, P-Lo, ScHoolboy Q and Travis Scott) with a simple statement: “Protect Lil B at all costs!” As a result, PNB Rock did not perform at Rolling Loud on Sunday but his time slot was filled by Oakland’s Kreayshawn. The controversial XXXTentacion lived up to his reputation and fought with a fan, but our mention of him in this article ends here.
The Bay represented the entire weekend, especially with the Lil B incident lighting a fire under the Bay Area artists performing on Sunday. Though relegated to a 15-minute set, Rexx Life Raj wasted no time by opening his set defending Lil B then running through tracks such as “Radio,” “The Joog,” “Handheld GPS,” and his latest single “2Free.” Raj later emerged as P-Lo was revealed as the festival’s special guest performer and laying down the hyphyest set of the day with songs from his More Than Anything album and bringing out HBK brothers Iamsu! and Kool John to perform alongside him. Even the lemonade guy was getting hyped.
Rolling Loud brought a snapshot of what current rap looks like in all its rambunctious, high-spirited energy. Kanye West may have said it first, but Rolling Loud as a function may have solidified rappers as the new rock stars. Fans and attendees got to experience rap’s present and future up close, but also witnessed the breadth of personalities across its spectrum. Whether it was health-conscious, orange-loving Larry June, punk rocker Denzel Curry (“ULT”), goofy sailor Lil Yachty (“One Night”), or Pinole’s own hyphy ball of energy P-Lo, Rolling Loud Bay Area brought the noise that’s going to echo for a while.