Last week, Rolling Loud concluded its multi-city run in New York City, staging the hip-hop music festival in the genre’s birthplace for a weekend to remember. The festival kicked off on an unseasonably chilly Friday and ended on a rainy, show-stopping Sunday. The three-day event brought together fans from across the city’s five Burroughs, the tri-state area, and beyond, because, as one attendee named Deja from Connecticut told us, “New York, is just a way different vibe.”
Rolling Loud’s expansive 2022 lineup featured headliners Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky and Future as well as New York’s own Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Fivio Foreign, and Benny The Butcher. Along with hometown hip-hop heroes and chart-topping acts, the festival served as a platform for up-and-coming rappers like Young Devyn, Shawny Binladen and Lola Brooke.
The festival’s New York stop didn’t come without a few issues, however. The NYPD reportedly removed Drill rappers Sha Ek, Ron Suno and 22Gz right before the event started, 21 Savage, who was set to take the stage before Future on Sunday, didn’t perform, and A$AP Rocky decided to follow his performance with an apology to fans. Despite these downsides, the festival still made a hype-worthy return to Queen’s Citi Field last weekend. Here are our top five favourite moments from the New York City edition of the world’s biggest hip-hop music festival.
We witnessed a surprise set from Kanye West
Some of our favourite performances from the weekend didn’t come from headliners, but from moments we didn’t expect. During his set, Playboi Carti surprised the crowd by bringing an unrecognizable Ye out to join him on stage. Shrouded in black clothing, the two performed their collaboration ‘Off The Grid’ from Kanye’s album ‘Donda‘.
Another stand-out moment came from Lil Tjay who made his onstage comeback at the festival after being shot and hospitalized earlier this year. Wearing a bulletproof vest, he announced to the crowd that he considered himself “blessed.”
Fiery festival stages kept the performances hot
Though the weekend was chilly, attendees kept warm next to the multiple festival stages, which featured fireworks, flamethrowers, flashing lights, and smoke machines. Not only did the over-the-top stages keep fans engaged, but American Sign Language interpreters (many of which went viral thanks to their own performances) kept the festival accessible.
“I love Rolling Loud,” Ruby, an attendee from Manhattan told us, noting Citi Field’s crowded festival grounds packed with swaying hands and mosh pit-ready fans. “This is my very first one, and technically, it’s my first concert,” Kendale from North Carolina told us. “It’s a great experience.”
Nicki Minaj amped up her hometown crowd
Nicki Minaj set the tone of the weekend when she took the stage on Friday night. Her fans (aka the “Barbz”) were front and centre for her performance, dressed in hot pink apparel and accessories and ready to cheer on their fav. Moments before the superstar rapper appeared on stage, thousands of fans loudly chanted her legal name “Onika” on repeat.
The Queens native amped up the crowd with a melody of hits including ‘Beez in the Trap’, ‘Feeling Myself’, and fan-favourite ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’. Along with a mid-set outfit change, Minaj’s performance highlights included star-studded on-stage collabs with fellow Rolling Loud performers. BIA showed up for ‘Whole Lotta Money’, Fivio Foreign hit the stage for ‘We Go Up’, ‘Chi-Raq’ featured G Herbo, and Lil Uzi Vert joined Minaj for ‘The Way Life Goes’.
A$AP Rocky gave a brief but impactful set
Rolling Loud NYC was A$AP Rocky’s final live performance before the arrival of his next album, according to a post he recently shared on Instagram. The Harlem native delivered a brief 30-minute set on Saturday, later apologizing for the limited time via a public statement.
“I am so hurt right now! Last night was supposed to be a turning point in my live shows from the old to new!” the rapper tweeted over the weekend. “I was unfortunately not able to bring my vision to fruition, and I’m hurt about that, and I want to apologize to all of my fans and continued supporters, and thank y’all for showing up for me regardless!!”
A$AP’s performance also resulted in a viral moment as the rapper leapt into a mosh pit during the performance and then struggled to remove himself from the raging crowd. Luckily, he made it out in one piece.
Offset joined Future for a rain-themed performance
Finally, Future closed out the festival on Sunday with a six-song set. Though the crowd was clearly hoping for more, the performance was ultimately cut short after a rainstorm caused the festival to implement an emergency weather evacuation. Moments before the downpour, the famed rapper performed tracks ‘Stick Talk’, ‘New Level’ and ‘Jumpman’.
In another surprise moment from the festival, Offset made an appearance during Future’s energetic live set. The estranged Migos member performed ‘Bad and Boujee‘ at the height of the storm – which sparked impromptu jumping and dancing, to the lyrics “Raindrop, drop top”.
As the rainfall increased and the ‘Mask Off’ intro began, Rolling Loud organizers announced the conclusion of the show, unanticipatedly cutting off the music and stage lights. “This is a festival safety alert,” the announcement rang over Citi Field. “Due to severe weather, we need to evacuate the venue.” Fans swiftly and safely evacuated the baseball field in droves, leaving the previously energetic festival grounds desolated in a matter of minutes.