Rolling Loud is arguably the world’s best known rap festival. Since its first Miami iteration in 2015, it’s quickly expanded, now also hosting events in New York, Oakland and LA (a Portugal festival was pulled due to Covid last year).
The headliners are reliably huge and a lot of the hottest new acts fill the middle-to-lower tiers of the line-up. Although unfortunate incidents tend to attract negative attention around the festival, a set at Rolling Loud is the dream for many of America’s rising rappers.
Like the mainstream rap scene more generally, Rolling Loud still has a long way to go in terms of gender diversity. The festival’s inaugural line-up included no women at all, which sparked major criticism on social media, and in 2018, Cardi B became the first female act to headline. Organisers have taken note: last weekend, the festival happened in New York with over 20 women on the bill, which is more than ever before. Flo Milli, City Girls, Rico Nasty, Coi Leroy, Asian Doll, Beanz, Dream Doll and Griselda’s Armani Caesar were among those to get booked.
We sent New York-based photographer Saysha Mesa down to Rolling Loud to shoot some of the talent backstage. Here’s to celebrating the women of Rolling Loud.