Over the course of three days, the Rolling Loud California’s 2023 festival invaded the Inglewood area of Los Angeles, bringing thousands together to enjoy three stages and a park full of bars, food trucks, and carnival games. The annual event saw cool days, brisk nights, an occasional drizzle, and over 100 performers showcasing the vastness of modern-day rap music.
While avoiding tricky hustlers selling “official wristbands” or tequila shots on the path from the designated parking area, parades of revelers flocked down the sidewalks to one of the many marked entrances. Among the swarm of visibly anxious ticketholders, VIBE entered the Hollywood Park grounds in the late afternoon of Friday for the euphoric experience of Rolling Loud.
Despite the winter weather standing in the 40-degree range, the musical acts brought the heat to the stage. Literally. Fireworks and other pyrotechnics added flair to the sets of some of Hip-Hop’s biggest names and most auspicious rising acts booked for the global event.
This year’s lineup featured headliners Playboi Carti, Future, and Travis Scott, who performed at a domestic festival for the first time since the Astroworld Festival tragedy in 2021. Although hosted in Los Angeles, Rolling Loud California was a playground for rap regions rather than an homage to the area. The diversity in style among each performer not only included the West Coast sound, but also those of Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, the U.K., Brooklyn, New Orleans, and more.
Still, Los Angeles was strongly represented in the 70,000-strong audience and on the stage among dozens of acts. Compton musician Kalan.frfr was one of several hometown heroes to take the stage in Rolling Loud’s return to California after a two-year hiatus.
“It’s lit, you know what I’m saying? I’m glad to still be here, you know what I mean? That’s all I can really be thankful for,” the Roc Nation representative told VIBE ahead of his set before explaining how he prepares for such a grand moment.
“I just be vibing, you know what I’m saying? At the end of the day, you just go out there and give a hundred every time,” he said. “No matter where it’s at, what we’re doing, I just want to just go hard as I can…Wherever I go, I got to represent the city, whether I’m in the city or out the city, so I’m going to give it a hundred no matter what.”
With a sturdy pair of Converse sneakers, an occasional tequila cocktail, and a thrifted camouflage jacket, we successfully caught as many performances as humanly possible while remaining in one piece.
Read below for the best performance highlights from 2023 Rolling Loud California.
Ice Spice Makes Her Festival Debut Like…?
Making her festival debut, Ice Spice performed early in Sunday’s lineup. With a set lasting just over 10 minutes, the Bronx-bred rapper made every moment on stage count. Thousands gathered around the platform as the hood’s “Princess Diana” made her entrance. Swapping her signature curly afro for a sleek, lengthy style, the 23-year-old performed with energy and charm, eagerly engaging with the screaming crowd, some of whom wore “certified munch” t-shirts. The Gen-Z star made sure to hit her signature, bent-over twerk move as she performed “Munch,” “In Ha Mood,” “Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2,” and more. Asking her fans to repeat the phrase, and her debut EP title Like…?, Ice Spice’s Rolling Loud performance was proof that the budding artist is just getting started.
Young Nudy Serves Up Fan Favorites
Fresh off the release of his latest project Gumbo, Young Nudy swamped the stage with the charisma only found in those bred in East Atlanta. The 30-year-old rapper smiled and waved as he performed some of his most popular tracks with new songs from the aforementioned album. Speaking directly to fans, the “Hell Shell” rapper made sure the love was mutual. Rapping over tracks, Nudy made sure to hit the subtle adlibs and had perfect timing on when to extend the microphone to an audience that arguably rapped every word. His performance included songs and snippets like “Peaches And Eggplants,” and “Green Bean,” leaving fans hungry for more after the 20-minute set.
Gloss Up Certifies The Viral Hype
Making her Rolling Loud debut, Gloss Up stood center stage in a sparkling royal blue costume with two dancers and nothing to prove. The moment itself was monumental, with or without the fanfare, for the newest Quality Control signee. Still, the Memphis rapper delivered an energetic set complete with choreography and the attitude necessary for the crunk lyrics. Delivering fan-favorite songs including “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes,” “Bestfrenn,” and “Real Bi**h,” the mother of two ended her performance with the viral posse cut “Shabooya” while carrying the energy of Slimeroni, K. Carbon, and Aleza through every verse.
City Girls Up 1000 Points
City Girls commanded the stage during their Rolling Loud set with colorful outfits, provocative dancing, and their signature quotatbles. JT and Yung Miami empowered each other on-stage, as they smiled and made eye contact with each other. The duo rapped through songs including “Rodeo,” and “Act Up,” and gave their dancers the spotlight to show the crowd the extent of their skills. The Miami artists not only performed fan-favorite songs, but they also teased a new song “Piñata” that gained the interest of onlookers wanting more.
Larry June Does A Good Job
If two are gathered in Midnight Organic merchandise, then more Larry June fans must be around them. At Rolling Loud California, hundreds wore “Smoothies” hoodies, “Dont Panic” t-shirts, and 1991 Jerseys as they raced through the festival grounds for the perfect view of the 31-year-old rapper’s performance of mixtape deep cuts and tracks from Spaceships On The Blade (which we added to our list of best 25 Hip-Hop albums of 2022). The Orange Print musician took the Rolling Loud stage in all of his coolness as a sea of mesmerized onlookers rapped along. Larry June also brought out The Alchemist to perform ahead of their joint album due at the end of the month. His festival set certified that the niche Hip-Hop circles he has organically impacted are growing in size and impact.
Lil Wayne Makes His Case For GOAT Crown
Rap veteran Lil Wayne arguably drew one of the largest crowds of the weekend and showcased not only the longevity of his rap career but proved it’s not over. Taking the stage on Saturday night, Weezy F. Baby brought out some big names such as 2 Chainz, who performed before him, and surprise guest Nicki Minaj. The Queens rapper’s moment was plagued by audio mishaps, but the roaring audience offered support by way of screams and chants. Still, the assistance was not needed. Lil Wayne introduced himself as Lil Tunechi before proudly performing songs including “Duffle Bag Boy,” “Blunt Blowin,” “6 Foot 7 Foot,” and “Uproar” while forever fans rapped every word. For many, the set was a nostalgic trip down memory lane to reminisce on the exact moments when the 40-year-old rapper first flicked his lighter to start a track.
Saweetie Represents For The Bay Area
Sporting a two-toned wig reaching just below the curves highlighted by her sparkly low-rise jeans, Saweetie proudly brought her pretty bi**h energy to Rolling Loud. Performing songs from her latest drop The Single Life, the 29-year-old stood center to her dancers whose pink ski masks and matching cargo pants flirted with edginess. While switching from rapping to hitting the flirtatious 8-counts, a highlight in Saweetie’s set came when she introduced Bay Area rap legend Too $hort to perform “Blow The Whistle” which is sampled on her hit record “Tap In.” Thousands screamed his favorite word at the top of their lungs, fluently rapped the entire first verse and continued to spread that hyphy energy for Saweetie’s chart-climbing remake.