The growth of Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif’s hip-hop festival Rolling Loud—from their first one-day event in Miami seven years ago, to now bringing it to Europe—has been astronomical.
On July 22, back after two years following the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolling Loud fans got to experience three days of rap music greatness from across the globe along the sandy beach of Portimão in Portugal. And it’s safe to say the two-year wait was worthwhile.
Day one arrives, and before entering the festival itself, the intense roars over the blaring music while taking in the views of the peaceful seafront sets the mood for the days ahead. Once making it past the gates and inside RL territory, it’s hard not to feel the energy from fellow festival-goers, not to mention being amongst a crowd from various parts of the world. Collective cheers and the word “Siu”—a reference to Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’ celebration as a sign of appreciation from the crowd—is consistently shouted at high volumes. The atmosphere is now buzzing.
From UK drill queen Ivorian Doll to RCA’s new promise Flo Milli, Cactus Jack’s Don Toliver to Dreamville headliner J. Cole, day one was filled with top-tier rap performances. At the same time, seeing live renditions of UK garage smashes like “Ladbroke Grove” from AJ Tracey and playful girl-power anthems by dancehall star Shenseaa meant that there was something there for everyone, catering to the diversity of the crowd. M Huncho was one of the first artists to ask, “Where’s my mosh-pit crew at?”, a recurring theme throughout the three-dayer. Fans certainly lived up to the Rolling Loud reputation as they treated mosh-pits like a ritualistic act to symbolize their favorite parts in a song, whether that be the rockstar-rap anthems from Playboi Carti or the melodic-trap joints from D-Block Europe .
The second day kicks off and Lancey Fouxx picks up the energy from the day before, preparing the crowd for frequent collaborator Skepta to grace the stage later on in the evening. With Boy Better Know’s Jme performing “Man Don’t Care” during the set on the Punx Stage, before joining his big brother on the Loud stage for “That’s Not Me”, grime proved to be a hit with all in attendance, with most rhyming along word-for-word. Skepta even rallied BBK members Frisco and Shorty to join him and DJ Maximum after performing international anthems like “Praise Tha Lord” and “It Ain’t Safe”. The day comes to a close with Rolling Loud regular A$AP Rocky doing what he does best whilst Rihanna, the mother of his first and only child, watched his set from the audience. “I’m happy to be all across the world performing hip-hop music—our culture is global,” he says, before giving a shout-out to Young Thug and Gunna: “Can we free YSL one time?!”
As day three arrives, those committed enough to attend all three days might have been feeling the exhaustion but didn’t let it show as they kept the energy up until the very end. West London hit-maker Central Cee demonstrated his global appeal, introducing his set with breakout single “Day In The Life” followed by drill-leaning tracks “Loading” and “6 For 6”. Future, who was the very last act of the festival, left a lasting impression as the trap legend delivered an energetic performance of his extensive discography, from “Mask Off” to his feature verse on “Pushing P”.
Despite an abundance of performances from an array of artists hailing from the UK, the States, and across Europe, a combined feeling of satisfaction while wanting for more was left behind. To get an even fuller picture of what went down at Rolling Loud Portugal 2022, scroll through below for a visual recap.