With a set of acts that ranged from the biggest, brightest, and boldest, the inaugural pitstop of the legendary hip-hop music festival in Asia was one for the books, no cap. We’re already looking forward to Rolling Loud in Thailand next year.
Everything was off: the shirts, the shoes, and for Cardi B, her wig. Well, almost. If anything was to go head to head with the sweltering heat in Pattaya, Thailand over the weekend, which at some point was tipping to a scorching 35-that-felt-like-a-42 degrees, it had to be the convergence of hip-hop and rap in Legend Siam that was Rolling Loud. Not even the cooling sensation of the often shocking, but welcome relief of water splashes from the country’s most important, highly anticipated, and well attended holiday, Songkran (traditional Thai new year), could temper the sizzling energy and fever pitch screams of those who trekked to the beachside city.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY IZZY NUZZO
Unfolding in the expansive playground of everything from a skateboard park to a basketball court, were two massive stages that lorded over what would prove to be a very dense crowd of fans, tourists, and casual inductions into the world of bars, flow, and hard-hitting truths. For a musical coming together touted as “one of the biggest” and “be-all of hip-hop festivals,” Rolling Loud has quite the reputation preceding it, something that is common in this side of the world of music. Tracing its origins in Miami, with pitstops in New York, Sydney, Canada, and Portugal, the now legendary music festival truly lived up to its decibel-breaking name.
From April 13 to 15, Thailand was the gateway of the biggest, brightest, and boldest of hip-hop for Asia. With a lineup that was by all accounts impressive, Rolling Loud in Thailand was definitely one helluva good time that had everyone dancing, fist-pumping, and belly screaming for so much more.
NEXT STOP: ROLLING LOUD THAILAND
For some, the argument is that hip-hop can be intimidating, especially for those who didn’t necessarily grow up, or at the very least, acclimate, to the culture. But even for the uninformed, there was a lot of good, nay, great music to enjoy from Rolling Loud in Thailand. From artists thriving in the mainstream such as headliners Cardi B, Chris Brown, and Travis Scott, to others in heavy streaming and radio play rotation such as Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Lil Uzi Vert, Jay Park, Jessi, and Offset, it was the perfect opportunity to get into it and vibe.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICKEY PIERRE LOUIS, IZZY NUZZO, THANISORN WONGSUNTHON
And if on the off chance that the music didn’t quite land, there was a lot to enjoy during the three-day international hip-hop festival. From theme park games, an assortment and seemingly endless supply of food and booze, and even flash tattoos onsite, everyone was guaranteed to have the time of their lives, which judging from the sweat-soaked, euphoria-plastered faces of the audience filing out in droves in between sets, was fact of the matter.
Everything was well thought of, too. From the strategically placed experiential booths and pocket stages, there was a lot of respite in the cannot-be-missed oasis of Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and hit among many, the two-storey Levi’s Tailor Shop. Right smack in front of the main stage, guests were not only treated to one of the best views of the performances, but also to a selection of classic denim silhouettes where one could decorate and DIY to best fit their personality with both staple and festival-exclusive embellishments. (This couldn’t have been a better way to continue the celebration of 150 iconic years for the beloved heritage brand that is Levi’s, to be honest.)
SMOKE AND THEN SOME
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HENRY HWU
Haze of smoke well accounted for, Rolling Loud promised a banger of a party in Pattaya, Thailand, and that was people got, nothing less. Braving the biting heat of the summer sun, with little to no wind whistling through, the humidity pounded through as everyone danced and slammed to the sizzling sets of the OGs like Fat Joe (though we are still pressed as to why the crowd was tight-lipped when What’s Luv blared through the speakers) and Rick Ross, paragons of Asian excellence in the genre such as Teriyaki Boyz, Milli (Mango Sticky Rice!), Jessi (who was kind enough to remind us to hydrate), and of course, Jay Park and the H1GHR MUSIC (who got rained on with bras in all colors), as well as of Central Cee, Ski Mask The Slump God, and Frank Ocean favorite, Rae Sremmurd. (Slim Jxmmi’s MSCHF boots was a choice, one that we totally were on board with.)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HENRY HWU
The soul-shifting sound systems continued to send Rolling Loud in Thailand to higher ground (IYKYK), with Lil Uzi Vert, who was also sparkling onstage, this time in sweats, interspersing the fury of his bars with adorable banter in between performances of XO Tour Liife3, Money Longer, and Just Wanna Rock.
Technical difficulties and the humidity aside, nothing stopped Cardi B from giving Thailand a show. With her wig threatening to slide off and shoes flying, and even despite being a hairline away from a nip slip, she powered through her set with all the energy and entertainment that one can dream of seeing live. “How do you say hot in this country?” she asked the crowd as the glistening sweat matched the shimmer of the glittering golden bodysuit with fringe that echoed all her movements, twerking included. It was hit after hit from favorites that included I Like It, WAP, and Bodak Yellow.
A major crowd draw, at least from a more diverse listening spectrum, Chris Brown turned the party up and out with his nostalgic trip of zeitgeist-marking tracks, which he amped up with the precision of his dancing. “How much do you know Chris Brown?” the sensual voice of a female entity straight from a tech-driven future asked on the third act of his set. Apparently a lot, because apart from the weather-appropriate Heat and the controversial Under The Influence, he zipped us through a time capsule soundtracked by Ayo, With You, Freaky Friday, Loyal, and era-defining Forever. It’s like we waited our whole lives for this one night, and Breezy delivered, double the pleasure, double the fun.
LOUD AND CLEAR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HENRY HWU
And in a one-two punch to close off the stellar showing of Rolling Loud in Thailand, core memory-worthy performances led by Offset and Travis Scott were the excess of exclamation points needed to punctuate the Asian debut of the cornerstone of hip-hop culture. Starting off with Offset, who looked straight out off Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, he entertained the crowd to near delirium with his performances of Bad and Boujee, Slippery, and Ric Flair Drip. Clearly having the time of his life, he even scaled the scaffolding of the main stage, where a frenzy ensued.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HENRY HWU
As is paramount to hip-hop culture, collaboration and tributes were aplenty, with Offset tipping his hat to TakeOff. Coursing throughout Rolling Loud in Thailand, these connections lit up many performances with Ski Mask The Slump God dedicating his set to XXXtentacion, Jessi, Milli, and Jay Park having a ball one day after the latter introduced Jessi as the newest addition to his label, MORE VISION, and finally, Offset making an appearance with Travis Scott in his show-stopping turn onstage on day three.
If the verse off on the still untitled track was mind-blowing, it was but a fragment to the religious-like experience that was the set of Travis Scott. Taking us to his church of music with searing singles such as Butterfly Effect, Highest In The Room, and Sicko Mode, as well as of the twice-performed Goosebumps, the heat was turned up, literally and figuratively, with bursts of fire and pyrotechnics lighting things up for full effect. It was so spine-tingling and intense that Travis Scott invited a fan up onstage where the two raged it out in the smoke-filled scene. Whether it was closed fists, middle fingers, or all hands in the air, there was no doubt that everyone in attendance where getting their whole life and then some, loud and clear.
So, will there be a next year for this side of the world? All signs point to yes, because as the energy settled to a stunned stillness, there flashed on the Levi’s stage as the crowd exited, “See you next year.” Where do we sign up?