Talk That Talk: Rolling Loud Sets Los Angeles on Fire, Offset Fans the Flames

Cardi B (Credit: Angel Grady)

[Editor’s Note: This review is a back-and-forth conversation/commentary on Rolling Loud between Nick Nuk’em and Christine Terrisse. Their real-ass thoughts on the festival include a dash of hyperbole, some blatant fan boy/girl-ing, a few keen observations, drunken recollections, and a side helping of delectable shade.]

OC Weekly Staff: *starts new Google doc to review Rolling Loud*

All the rappers at Rolling Loud: Open that shit up!

Christine Terrisse: Let’s just get Cardi and Offset out of the way, shall we?

Nick Nuk’em: We shall!

Christine: Alright. So the whole incident in which Offset crashed Cardi’s set begging for forgiveness seemed a bit contrived, although she was genuinely shocked.

Nick: She was very surprised and visibly pissed!

Credit: Angel Grady

Christine:  I feel Rolling Loud failed her on two levels.  

One, she is the festival’s first female headliner. In a genre that is often accused of misogyny, the idea that her performance could be disrupted with something that could negatively throw her off her game was a little disturbing to me. And then the other thing was the weird delay or whatever went wrong with her mic. She also indicated in an Instagram live after that she was supposed to have two guest artists. She deserved to have her moment and I felt she was disrespected.

Despite it all, she trooped through like a Queen Pro.

Nick: Cardi keeping her composure the way she did was one of the most admirable moments of the weekend. (The other was Young Thug bringing his sisters out to perform.)

This whole “Offset Apology Tour” has been one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen in this culture. 21 Savage starting that “Cardi take Offset back” chant was nuts and her team being in on him crashing her set makes it feel stunt-ish. However, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

This was for sure a historical Hip-Hop moment that I was happy to witness in person but the thing that pissed me off more than anything is Rolling Loud promising us “BIG SURPRISE GUESTS” for Cardi’s set and us not getting Kehlani, nor Bad Bunny,  Chance the Rapper, or fucking Bruno Mars!

And then she had this sick dance break thing at the end of “Bodak Yellow,” her final song, where the fireworks should have been going off to close the fest but they didn’t start until the song ended 🙁

Christine: Wtf about the guest artists? Maybe they blew their budget on pyro.

Nick: The flame is literally the most overused emoji, word, and sentiment used in and around Hip-Hop these days. Frankly, I’ve even tried to switch and use words like “gas,” and using volcano and gas station emojis instead of that goddamn flame but Rolling Loud really brought the, urm, heat when it came to the performances. LA rapper Reason played super early on Friday and when I saw those flames shoot up in the sky during his 120-second set, I thought his TDE sponsorship might have afforded him some special privileges but literally, everyone had sick pyro all weekend.

Christine: I’m a lifelong fan of hip-hop and this is my first true rap concert. For shame. The pyro was a welcome surprise and delighted the child within me. Every time it went off I felt like yelling “Fire!” (cue Beavis voice.) It’s a perfect example of how hip-hop culture doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, I appreciated the extra warmth when it got chilly.

Nick: Lmao at the Beavis voice! But don’t get it fucked up, you ain’t just getting hit with flame balls and grand finales at any Rap show; Rolling Loud just went crazy!

Christine: I was forced to duck falling ash at the end of Wayne’s set.

Nick: While I think fire is something everyone can get behind, Rolling Loud had a few things that pertained almost exclusively to the Hip-Hop-loving millennial.

Credit: Nick Nuk’em

Like that prop Brinks truck where people were welcomed to take pics and the super floral photo-op on the other side of VIP. Plus, they had the basketball hoop that was open to all. That works perfectly at Rolling Loud, whereas Arroyo Seco maybe not so much lmao.

Things like that take Rolling Loud from a super dope in-person experience and send it straight to Instagram where your all your followers who didn’t go will suffer from the worst case of FOMO.  

Christine: Even if you’re not a millennial they make you feel accepted as one. Case in point: over at the “Bae Area” lounge I got a glittery space bun updo for free. Shout out to Cienna Jade, @ciennajadee.

Nick: Speaking of glittery buns, did you see Kash Doll’s set?! Looked like she was hauling two disco balls behind her 🤤. I’m not into BDSM or whatever but I’d let my girl beat me up to her music any day. I’d also let Kash Doll assault me — then I’d give her my paycheck.

Christine: Oh, my. I think she went to Lil Kim’s finishing school for lady rappers. All hail the booty gods.

Nick: Lmao! What would you say was your favorite set from the whole weekend?

Credit: Angel Grady

Christine: That’s a tough one. First off, RIP to the sets I missed, but from who I did see I’m going to have to pass the “best of” torch to Tyga. He impressed me with his ability to stoke the audience’s energy. The way he moved his body combined with his rhythmically on point flow set him apart. Bottom line is his set was one of the most fun in my opinion from his Rockette-like stripper dancers to the detailed production in his songs. I don’t exercise much, but Tyga’s set made me want to jump on a treadmill and run a few miles.

Nick: Super salty I missed Tyga because he’s seriously one of my favorite rappers ever but I couldn’t have forgiven myself had I missed Playboi Carti’s set and boy, did it pay off! All weekend I was looking for the chance to jump in a raucous ass pit and Cash Carti delivered! From his first song “R.I.P. Fredo” through all the tracks from his latest album Die Lit! (one of the best albums this year) into this classics, I, with a surrounding coterie of teens lost our collective shit.

It was what I’m considering the “pay off moment”. Two dudes in front of me looked at each other in between songs and gave each other a silent nod of satisfaction that symbolized his set’s energy perfectly.

Christine: New favorites are Nipsey Hussle and Rico Nasty. Nipsey, the lost love child of Snoop and Kendrick brought legit skills and old school Cali love. Rico speaks to a void in the rap game today with a female take on an aggressive dark comic fantasy. She even reminds me a little of Björk and Grimes style-wise. One to watch, for sure.

Nick: I mean this in the most loving way possible but Rico Nasty reminds of the pesky girl in your 1st-grade class that wore her Halloween costume for a month after. Those prosthetic elf ears and cartoonish voice make her an animated character come to life. You said something to the effect of her having “pure punk energy” and that’s 100% it. With the metal-sounding guitar in her production mixed with her delivery and songs like “Smack A Bitch,” I don’t see anything stopping Rico Nasty from tearing down any obstacles that arise in her future.  

Christine: Disappointments?

Nick: I wish Wayne would start playing more of his mixtape songs in his sets but I understand how tall an order that is and wouldn’t necessarily call it a disappointment.

One thing I’d have liked to see is more integrated sets, though; like Gunna and Lil Baby. Now I’m not mad I got to hear “Drip Too Hard” live twice in the span of an hour but that combo dominating music together this year has been a big story and would’ve been awesome to see that culminate in front of my eyes. Plus, they were back-to-back anyway.

Another integrated set that would’ve been sick is Rucci, 1TakeJay, and AZChike. Those dudes dropped an amazing tape together called The Winning Team earlier this year and if they’d have gotten the chance to run through their solo stuff and the collabs for an extended period, I think it would have made for an enhanced experience.

Christine: On my end, I wanted to give Kodak Black a strong talking to. Either that or a strong coffee. I can tell he has good material but I didn’t get his moping along the set occasionally deciding to rhyme along with his playback. Is he trying to out xan Lil Xan?

Nick: If anyone xan, Kodak xan.

Not many of these artists had the greatest stage presence to be fair. Some of them just started rapping, let alone performing. I think that’s what makes a stellar showing at a festival that highlights mostly new rappers so impressive. It’s also a commentary on today’s social-media fueled music climate.

Blueface (Credit: Angel Grady)

Christine: It’s style before substance, long a hallmark of hip-hop. Social media has only sped up the process. I finally realized you can hate all you want, but not everybody has to be Tupac. It’s a case of an excess of riches. There’s so many personalities, so much choice. It’s like all the flavors of the rainbow or every My Little Pony.

Eventually, the stars will rise to the top. And those who are hungry will learn quickly to step their game up. Both Trippie Redd and Yung Pinch, seem to get that.

Nick: I don’t think I got a chance to pontificate in person about what I’m calling the “Cardi B Effect,” but it’s when an artist gets booked for a show (probably in a lower spot and for little money) and they explode into the public conscience before the show date. That’s kinda what happened with the current hottest rapper in the world Blueface.

Christine: Is Blueface worthy of the hype? On my end, he brought sexy back.

Nick: Absolutely. He already has a repertoire of dance moves, gestures, and adlibs. Plus his signature flow has become the talk of the music world. He’s poised for stardom. Yeah aight!

Credit: Nick Nuk’em

Christine: …and as fast as that as stardom is achieved, so to is legend status when they die young. In the case of XXXTentacion for example, we are mourning the loss of his potential. It’s only telling how many of the artists paid tribute to him either through covers (Lil Skies) or as when Ski Mask the Slump God implored “I’m here representing your brother XXX and I need your energy.”

Nick: Lil Skies also paid homage to Mac Miller with a few tracks, which was heartwarming. And the murals dedicated to passed-on figures like Mac, XXX, Lil Peep, and Fredo was a nice gesture on Rolling Loud’s behalf.

Christine: We can go on all we want about the lack of talent and effort being made in this generation of hip-hop and the glut of artists, many who sound the same. But I think Rolling Loud proves its an exciting time in music. Hip-hop has never been more inclusive, more egalitarian. This shows in fashion which is all over the place. I saw people wearing every era of hip-hop, sometimes all at once. Male performers seem freer to experiment with their looks. It’s okay to be a black, skateboarding, metal-loving kid who digs cheesy rap or a white rapper with long hair from the HB. Anything goes and there’s something beautiful about that.  

Nick: THAT’S BIG FACTS ! NO CAP!

Christine: Thanks for the good time, Rolling Loud. Until next year, I’ll be going to sleep dreaming of the chicken and waffles truck and Blueface’s abs. Peace.

Credit: Nick Nuk’em

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