The Bay Area edition of Rolling Loud, arguably the country’s biggest hip-hop music festival, took place this past weekend, offering a hyped — and packed — gathering across three stages at the Oakland Coliseum grounds. The third Rolling Loud to take place in the Bay Area, this year’s festival saw a star-studded lineup — Future, YG, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, G-Eazy, and the like — collectively put on an impressive show, save for technical issues that marred a handful of high-profile sets. Here are nine highlights from the weekend.
G-Eazy Organizes a Bay Area Affair
The weekend possibly meant more to G-Eazy than anybody else, as the Oakland rapper’s headlining performance doubled as victory lap and heartfelt homecoming. “I thought about this sh– today: [I’ve gone] from playing my first shows at the f—ing New Parish, like eight years ago, to headlining Rolling Loud,” he said, reflecting on his early-career shows in Oakland, before he performed his breakout 2014 hit “I Mean It” for the crowd. The rapper arrived in an Oakland A’s hat and jersey, which he eventually signed and threw into the crowd to reveal a Mac Dre t-shirt underneath. Mac Dre’s own mother took the stage as G-Eazy paid tribute to the late Bay Area legend. It was just one of a string of local guests — rappers P-Lo, Allblack, Kossisko, Jay Ant, and Keak da Sneak all made cameos — he brought out to honor his roots.
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His set, though, was marred by sound issues that forced multiple stops and starts. “Sound man, if you don’t fix this sh– right now, you’re going to have a lot of angry people in the Bay Area, bro,” he said angrily during a prolonged stop. “Fix this sh– right the f— now!” The technical issue was part of a weekend pattern, one that most notably caused an early exit from another rapper earlier in the day …
Technical Issues Cut Off 21 Savage
“I can’t even rap, this sh– keeps skipping words,” 21 Savage said, frustrated in the opening moments of his set. The audio cut in and out early in his set, deflating the energy from the massive crowd. After a technical-difficulties pause, the Atlanta rapper carried on with his performance, which was accompanied by a short documentary that reflected his tumultuous year, first detailing the story of his rise as a rapper, and then chronicling the U.K.-born but Atlanta-raised artist’s arrest by ICE earlier this year for overstaying his visa.
The video was a poignant pause in the show that was clearly meant to give weight to his performance of his meaningful, J Cole-featuring hit, “A Lot.” But what should have been the highlight of his set became instead the cause of its sudden end: 21 Savage appeared to grit his teeth through audio skips early on in the song, but as the technical issues continued, he abruptly and angrily called it quits, apologizing to the crowd and swiftly exiting.
YG Pays Tribute to Nipsey Hussle
“We in motherf—g Oakland, California — this my second home,” YG declared. It was hard not to consider his recently public relationship to Kehlani as the reason why, especially when the Oakland singer was briefly caught on camera watching YG’s set. The L.A. rapper, who grew progressively loopier throughout his performance, delivered a thoroughly West Coast party vibe to close out the festival’s first night, while also taking aim at the president during his anthem “F— Donald Trump” and directing his performance of “Stop Snitching” at incarcerated rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. But the most notable takeaway was his tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle: The set was introduced by a video dedicated to Nipsey, whose memory YG, wearing a bejeweled vest that read “The Marathon Continues,” repeatedly alluded to throughout the night. “My brother Nipsey Hussle looking down on us right now,” he said before calling for a sea of light from the crowd as he played Nipsey’s “Racks in the Middle.”
Megan Thee Stallion Continues to Shine
The “Hot Girl Summer” may be over, but judging by her electrifying performance at this festival, Megan Thee Stallion’s reign is only just beginning. There were no low points as Megan cycled through the hits from her latest album, “Fever,” along with a sadly truncated version of her latest hit single, “Hot Girl Summer” (featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign). And of course, twerking — or, a somewhat reductive way of saying Megan’s genuinely athletic and impressive stage presence — was on display throughout, though not only from her. “I need a bad b—-h that’s gonna throw it back,” she declared as she hand-selected volunteers from the crowd to twerk on stage as she performed “Simon Says.”
Yay Area Lives On
G-Eazy aside, the next generation of the Bay Area’s rappers shined. Kamaiyah was enthusiastically received in her hometown of Oakland, while Rolling Loud went wild for “My Type,” the twerk-friendly summer hit from Saweetie, who grew up partly in the Bay Area. Despite rumors over the last year of a potential breakup, Vallejo’s SOBxRBE lit up the stage and appropriately closed out their set with “Paramedic!,” the song from the “Black Panther” soundtrack that pushed them from Bay Area favorite into hip hop’s mainstream. Each of the young acts offered a sense of the Bay Area sound, showcasing the continuing legacy of the Yay Area.
The Complicated Legacy of XXXTentacion
Ski Mask the Slump God had one of the weekend’s most energetic sets, climbing dangerously high up the side of the concert stage and directing the crowd’s mosh pits. But the theme of his performance was his repeated allusions to his friend, the late rapper XXXtentacion, whose publicly violent history and accusations of abuse dogged his skyrocketing career before he was murdered during a robbery in Miami last year. Others from the Soundcloud generation — Juice Wrld, Playboi Carti — also paid their respects in their sets. Ski Mask, who shared a rocky but close friendship with the late rapper, played multiple XXXtentacion songs for a rabidly hyped crowd. “No matter where we at, we dedicate our set to our brother XXXtentaxion. I don’t give a f— if you didn’t like him,” Ski Mask told the crowd. The crowd, though, showed no signs of wavering in their support.
Playboi Carti, Juice Wrld, and an Inexplicable Young Thug
In between songs, Playboi Carti orchestrated mosh pits throughout the crowd, barking commands like a crazed general. Carti’s aggressive mood provided a sharp contrast to the Juice Wrld set, taking place concurrently on a sister stage. Juice’s performance was instead populated largely by the rapper’s crooning, melodic, lovelorn bangers. But for the second straight night, sound issues plagued the stage — right at the moment of a surprise and inexplicable appearance from Young Thug, who failed to show up for his own scheduled set immediately prior to Juice’s.
Young Thug’s Delayed Show
A boisterous, packed crowd gathered for Young Thug, eager to hear hits from “So Much Fun,” his latest album and the long-awaited commercial breakthrough from one of the forefathers Atlanta’s modern trap boom. But the hype began to wane as time ticked on without a Thug entrance. When “Hot,” a standout from his latest record, began to play, the crowd reignited, anticipating his delayed arrival. But as the song finished, the lights went up and Thug seemed to officially be a no-show — that is, until later in the night.
Thug made a brief cameo in the Juice Wrld set that immediately followed, making no reference to his previous absence and coming onstage only for a few minutes — an appearance that felt less like consolation than insult to injury. And yet, the rapper suddenly showed up again on a separate stage later, during what was Lil Uzi Vert’s scheduled slot, playing a partial but nevertheless fun performance.
Lil Uzi Vert Is Cut Off
Often a wild card with his festival appearances — due to last minute-cancellations and tardy sets — Lil Uzi Vert had the excuse of Young Thug’s surprise set for his own delayed show that followed. But the later start time meant the biggest crowd of the festival for what turned into a near full-on Uzi Vert concert. As fellow headliners Migos wrapped up a strong set on a sister stage, Uzi Vert continued into the night as the sole remaining act, performing an extended set for a seemingly endless sea of Bay Area fans.
“One more? I got ten more!” He told a fan after performing “XO TOUR Llif3,” which he would put on a second time after bringing Young Thug back out. Amid several cues that appeared to mark the night’s end, Uzi Vert was reluctant to leave, continuously calling for more songs from his DJ, until the venue itself muted his mic and cut off the lights.