Gag City is brought to Los Angeles by Nicki Minaj, while PartyNextDoor provides the hits and more from Rolling Loud 2024.

Following Thursday, March 14’s lackluster headline act by Kanye and Ty Dolla $ign, the hip-hop festival officially launched on Friday night for its first full day. On March 15, Nicki Minaj performed as the headlining act at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. She brought Gag City to the venue with an almost hour-long concert.

Currently on her Pink Friday 2 World Tour, Minaj stopped in at Rolling Loud for her only gig in Los Angeles. Her presentation, which would have filled a stadium, was condensed into an hour with her passionate, sleek, and hit-filled performance.

At 9:40 p.m., she took the stage and welcomed the growing audience to Gag City. She didn’t say much to the audience—only once or twice—but instead let the parade of songs speak for themselves. She added choreography and wardrobe changes to serve as a constant reminder of why she has earned a place in the hip-hop hall of fame. For those present, it probably went beyond that: Minaj proved once more that she is a top pop artist to be taken seriously and hasn’t changed since the release of her debut album in 2010.

Barbz, who has been monitoring the setlists for her recently launched tour, noticed a few exclusions, but her shortened set featured songs from her most recent album paired with noteworthy pieces. After climbing a set of stairs, she emerged to the tune of “I’m the Best,” where she encountered “FTCU” and “Barbie Dangerous.” After a quick clip of “Beez in the Trap” and “Beep Beep,” flames flew up behind her, and she changed into “Chun-Li” and “Ruby Red da Sleeze” as a result. She showed that she hasn’t forgotten her roots with performances of “Super Bass,” “Roman’s Revenge,” and her famous verse from Kanye West’s “Monster” (West, of course, “headlined” the night before her, although there was a recent disagreement about the release of their collaboration “New Body” for West’s ” Vultures” most likely prevented any unexpected West emergence.

One of her more pop-leaning songs, “Starships,” was included in the lineup, which may have surprised those who haven’t been seeing her recent shows. Considering that she frequently played it during the Pink Friday 2 tour. However, she interrupted the DJ who was playing the RedOne-produced song during a New Year’s Eve performance in Miami, saying she was done performing it. Maybe her gut feeling was off on that one. One of the set’s highlights, it was a bright, sharp, and aggressive throwback to 2010s EDM-pop. “Starships” has a queen-sized place in the hearts of fans, despite any reservations she may have had about it. The crowd teetered and undulated like the Earth during an earthquake. The slip was one of victory On the walk out, concertgoers were singing along to her finale, “Everybody.”

PartyNextDoor, real name Jahron Anthony Brathwaite, the first artist signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label, advertised having the largest crowd of the evening before Gag City turned into the only place to be that evening. PartyNextDoor brought a nostalgic performance of his greatest hits for all the R&B fans in the crowd. There was a noticeable sense of urgency among those who attended Party’s performance, as the Canadian singer had only lately begun to tour more frequently, spurred by the impending release of his fourth studio album. Party more than met this demand. The singer-songwriter lived up to the hype with a flawless set list that included “Come and See Me,” “Persian Rugs,” “Break From Toronto,” and “Sex on the Beach,” supported by a group of backing dancers and a three-piece band and even a seductive rendition of Rihanna’s song “Work,” which he co-wrote.

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PartyNextDoor on the GoPuff stage at Inglewood, California’s Rolling Loud, March 15, 2024. Credited to Jordan K. Knight

Eye-popping early sets by Sexyy Red and Jeleel, two hot hip-hop performers! required festival attendees to arrive early because the lines for entrance grew increasingly painful as the evening wore on. An hour before Minaj was scheduled to perform, general admittance was once closed. Just steps away from security, some people were observed climbing the gates, but they disregarded it. However, Rolling Loud was a well-oiled machine on the inside.

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On March 15, 2024, Sexyy Red performs live at Rolling Loud at the Ethika Stage in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Daniela Alaviie)

For West Coasters who enjoy hip-hop from 2010 to 2014, YG and Tyga’s joint concert was a great favorite. Songs like “The Motto,” “Rack City,” “Faded,” and “Toot It & Boot It,” along with scorching renditions of local rappers’ songs like “Uno” by Ambjaay, set the mood for the evening. Additionally, YG invited Saweetie as a special guest for a flirtatious rendition of “Richtivities.”

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On March 15, 2024, Saweetie and YG share the Ethika stage at Rolling Loud in Inglewood, California. Credited to Mickey Pierre-Louis

The removal of música Mexicana hitmaker Junior H and Natanael Cano, who were invited as special guests but were withdrawn in the days of the event, was the only glaring omission from this roster. The CEO of both musicians’ Rancho Humilde labels, Jimmy Humilde, expressed his annoyance with Rolling Loud on social media, saying that the festival had abruptly canceled on them. In addition, he said Rolling Loud was “racist” for utilizing his performers as a sales tool before ejecting them from the schedule under duress. The festival said in a statement to Rolling Stone and on social media that Cano’s contract conflicts prevented the two performers from performing visa and Junior broke the terms of his radius contract, which shields the festival from performers who play more than one gig so they won’t compete for ticket sales. The event has not spoken further, and Humilde has refuted these allegations.

Rather, 17-year-old Chino Pacas represented the genre with a high-energy performance that included the debut of an unheard song with Gabito Ballesteros.

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Chino Pacas on the Rolling Loud stage at Inglewood, California’s GoPuff on March 15, 2024. (Image courtesy of Ava Lamb)

Much of the SoFi stadium’s concrete lots were dotted with sponsored booths and an unending array of activities, including a skateboard park and karaoke, in addition to the action taking place on stage. Instead, Power 106 played easily consumable hip-hop songs and Latin music, while other DJs provided energetic trap beats and occasionally gave free merchandise to the passing masses. Seeing how people dressed was another of the best things about the festival: Nicki aficionados were clearly visible, moving around in masses of neon pink clothing.

The major acts at the Rolling Loud Festival, which includes Future, Post Malone, and Metro Boomin, will continue through March 17.

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