The first-ever Rolling Loud in Canada is about to touch down on Ontario Place in Toronto on Friday. Since it was announced back in April, hip-hop fans north of the border have been wondering how the first Rolling Loud Toronto might differ from its American brethren.
Festival founders Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif know Canadians have been waiting for a Rolling Loud to call their own.
“Canadians have been asking us to come to Canada for years,” Cherif says. “As soon as we announced, the hype was through the roof. Toronto is definitely ready for Rolling Loud and the special lineup we’re bringing.”
Zingler adds that, invariably, the host city finds a way to make Rolling Loud its own.
“Each Rolling Loud is always unique,” Zingler says. “You never know what special guests will show up, new activations we have on site, limited merchandise, and, to top it off, amazing site locations. This show is something we have been working on for almost 3 years. Toronto is an amazing market for hip-hop and we are very excited to be accepted by the city and fans. Fans expect to make some new friends and meet likeminded people that love music.”
Where Rolling Loud Toronto immediately differentiates from editions in the States is the inclusion of two non-North American headliners. Joining Atlanta rapper Future in the top slots are British artist Dave and Nigerian star Wizkid.
Wizkid is admittedly a household name, but Dave is an interesting choice, especially outside the UK, where he’s well-respected but perhaps not an obvious headliner.
The way Zingler and Cherif see it, Toronto isn’t just a new market in Canada to tap into, but a gateway to the international community.
“Headliners are selected based on multiple factors,” Zingler says. “We wanted to try something different since we have New York in September as well. Booking an American headliner, Future, European based act like Dave, and a Nigerian Afrobeat act like Wizkid shows the diversity of what Rolling Loud lineups can look like depending on the location of the event.
“Rolling Loud is a brand that can form into a lineup that fits the market and brings out the hip-hop fans from the city and beyond. I am very excited to see the fans’ response to these headliners.”
Of course, Rolling Loud Toronto will also feature a bunch of Canadian acts as well. It’s a testament to the growth of rap in this country that it can fill out a festival lineup without feeling like a compromise. Festival-goers will get to see some of the country’s biggest names, and plenty of up-and-coming ones as well.
“We love Canadian rappers. From Nav to Pressa and everyone else, Canada brews a lot of heat, and I’m excited to see the Canadians perform on their home turf,” says Cherif.
Cherif adds there’s one star in particular they’re hoping shows up. Rolling Loud is known for their surprises, and it’s not without precedent that Drake has shown up unexpectedly: He joined Lil Baby on stage at Metro Metro in Montreal last May.
“Rolling Loud has become known for high-profile special guests, and I don’t expect Toronto to be any different,” says Cherif. “I think everyone knows who we’re hoping pulls up this weekend. 6ix!”