Rolling Loud Festival: Here are the can't miss acts you have to see this May

Kendrick is no. 1, but do you agree with the rest?

click to enlarge Kendrick Lamar, who headlines Rolling Loud Festival 2017 in Miami, Florida. -
Kendrick Lamar, who headlines Rolling Loud Festival 2017 in Miami, Florida.

Each year early spring marks the time of year that the remaining anticipated festival lineups are released, and eager festival goers shell out their cash to see their favorite names headline festivals around the country. In the past, the more popular names usually decorate the posters of the bigger U.S festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza.

However in recent years, the festival movement has gained more mainstream appeal, with different festivals popping up around the country, including Florida. While the Sunshine State has always been a popular music state, most of the it's festivals have been EDM-based (Ultra, SMF) or lack the camping aspect (Rockfest, Tortuga.) The only true camping-festival attractions are run out of Suwannee (Wanee, Hulaween), but since it's located near the panhandle, Suwannee remains just out of reach for most South Floridians. Meeting the demand for this need, the organizers of Bonnaroo created Okeechobee Music Festival, located in the heart of South Florida.

Read: Okeechobee Fest Lineup: Kings of Leon, Usher & The Roots, Bassnectar, Lumineers, Flume and more

In 2016, OMF (Okeechobee Music Festival) brought top billed acts like Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar and Skrillex to the heart of Florida, to the delight of Floridians. After a successful first run it immediately established itself as one of Florida’s top music festivals. Critically the festival was a huge success, even prompting critics like the Tampa Bay Times to say that OMF is "transforming Florida's live music landscape." (How Okeechobee Music Festival is Transforming Floridas Live Music).

While the lineup this year doesn’t feature as many big names, it was still the biggest festival this far south. At least it was until earlier this week, when Miami’s Rolling Loud dropped its lineup.

Read: Drake and Future go long, hard for adoring fans at Tampa's Amalie Arena

2017’s Rolling Loud will include a laundry list of today’s biggest names in rap, many of which are alumni from previous lineups.  At the top is Kendrick Lamar, who is arguably the biggest name in the rap game today.  Below him on the list are Future, who is fresh off his sold out co-headlining tour with Drake that grossed upwards of $85 million, and Lil Wayne, who many argue to be one of the greatest rappers of all time.  If you stopped there, this would already be a festival that would be hard to miss, but then it keeps going.  A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Migos, and Mac Miller to name a few, all of which have been dominating the charts and airwaves for the last several years and have recently or soon to be released projects.  Even the ‘smaller’ billed acts are all up-and-coming rappers that have been main stays of the radio in recent months.  Simply put, Rolling Loud immediately puts itself in competition with not only Okeechobee, but any festival in the South East.  It’s a huge departure from previous bills, which included one main headliner with smaller acts.  It’s easy to draw conclusions this was in response to the birth from Okeechobee, as they snatched their headliner from last year in Kendrick.  Here is our Top 5 Can’t Miss Acts at Rolling Loud Festival:

Migos released their new album 'Culture' in January -
Migos released their new album 'Culture' in January

5. Migos

2017 has been Migo’s time to shine. Earlier this month at the Golden Globes Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) praised the trio as this generation’s Beatles, which made people take notice. OnJanuary 27, they dropped their album Culture, which was led by the smash hit “Bad and Boujie.”  Led by Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, the Atlanta group have been in the game for years, but never got the recognition they felt they deserved.  Fresh off signing with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music Label, they look poised to finally make their mainstream debut.  The only surprise here is that they are so low on the bill.

Future plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on August 27, 2016. - Tracy May
Tracy May
Future plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on August 27, 2016.

4. Future

Future is at the point in his career where he probably wont find himself any lower than the top line of most festival lineups.  As he continues to push out hit after hit, his mainstream appeal is only growing.  As mentioned before, his co-headlining tour was a hit, as the tour became the highest grossing Hip-Hop tour of all time. Future has headlined Rolling Loud as recently as last year, but that didn’t stop Rolling Loud talent buyers from asking him to return to Miami’s Bayfront Park to perform in early May.  With his penchant for putting out albums so frequently, we will most likely have a new record to blast in the car by the time his tour bus rolls into Miami.

3. A$AP Rocky

Lord Flacko, as A$AP likes to call himself, has also been busy putting out albums.  While 2016 didn’t see a solo project from the New York based rapper, he did produce 2016’s Cozy Tapes Vol.1, a collaboration album from A$AP Mob in tribute to their former mentor A$AP Yams, who passed away a few years ago. In the past A$AP has appeared at festivals like Firefly and Sasquatch, but rarely has he graced Floridians with his French braids and bravado.  The last time he visited the Sunshine State, he opened for Rihanna on her tour.  Rocky has also divulged via his twitter that he is in the process of recording a follow up to 2015’s AT.LONG.LA$T album.  With Rolling Loud four months out, it’s fair to speculate that we could have a new project from him soon.

2. Travis Scott

The Houston rapper finds himself on the 3rd line of the lineup, but perhaps no one had a stronger 2016 than “La Flame.”  His album The Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was one of, if not the strongest records from a stacked 2016 Rap year. The Kanye West protégé has seemed to sprouted wings like a ‘bird’, and there’s no telling how high he could go.  Other than his recent success, the Houston MC is known for his live performance, where he is often seen jumping into the audience to crowd surf.  With the innate production and lyricism he displayed on the last record, Travis threatens to have the most potential for future music, even competing with our no. 1 can’t miss artist.

1. Kendrick Lamar

Rightfully so, Kendrick Lamar sits atop the throne here and on already stacked lineup. While Kendrick’s last dropped project came in March with Untitled Unmastered, the Compton rapper has stayed busy the rest of the year in form of features. The rapper had prominent roles on tracks from Kanye, Travis Scott, Mac Miller, and the Weeknd, and that’s only a few of them. While it’s rumored that Kendrick is working on a mixtape collaboration with fellow rapper J. Cole, the strength of his catalog is already staggering. Both To Pimp A Butterfly and Good Kid M.a.a.d City are critically considered among the best rap albums of the last decade, and many consider him to be the top rapper in the industry. Seeing Kendrick’s set in person last year, I can tell you it’s a can’t miss event. Kendrick will roll into town with a full band, which performs behind him as he spits some of the more fiery verses out today. Without Lamar on the bill, Rolling Loud would still be an amazing list of top performers, icons and up-and-comers, but having Kendrick Lamar at the top is what makes this a can’t miss event.


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LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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