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Rolling Loud NYC: 8 must-see non-headliners

Afropunk 2019 - Saturday
Rico Nasty at Afropunk Brooklyn 2019 (more by Ellen Qbertplaya)

The first-ever NYC edition of Rolling Loud is this weekend, happening Saturday (10/12) and Sunday (10/13) in Citi Field in Queens. There are some great headliners, including the first hometown appearance by A$AP Rocky since being released from Swedish jail, the always-amazing hometown heroes Wu-Tang Clan, the great Meek Mill who remains unstoppable since his major 2018 comeback, the ever-popular Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert, plus TONS of other great stuff to see too.

As always with a festival stacked, there are unfortunately a handful of tough conflicts, and if you’re looking for some suggestions of who to pick, we put together this list of 8 must-see non-headliners playing this weekend’s festival. Unfortunately, even a few of our picks overlap with each other, but if you can try to see half of each, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Check out the full lineup and set times HERE and see our eight picks below…

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MEGAN THEE STALLION

Megan is in the running for rap’s rookie of the year, and she continues to be unstoppable. So unstoppable, in fact, that the very fun song and video embedded above was one of two new things she just released today. She first caught a lot of people’s attention with “Big Ole Freak,” but she has surpassed that song over and over again, including with several tracks on her great 2019 album Fever, the whole Hot Girl Summer thing, and a handful of worthy guest appearances. (In addition to the one above, she’s on the new Maxo Kream and Quality Control albums, the new Gucci Mane single that also just got a video today, and more.) She’s a great rapper, she’s funny, she’s charismatic, and she’s got hooks for days. There’s just about nothing she can’t do.

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DABABY

The other contender for 2019 rap rookie of the year is DaBaby, and not only has his career taken a similar path to Megan’s (they both came up around the same time, quickly surpassed their breakout singles, put out great albums this year, and they’re both actual rappers who know how to dominate modern pop rap), the two of them appear together one of the year’s best songs, “Cash Shit.” They both play the Sunday of Rolling Loud — let’s hope they collab on stage. DaBaby isn’t perfect, but almost everything he touches turns to gold, and he continues to one-up himself. First, “Walker Texas Ranger” seemed like a potential one hit wonder, but then “Suge” came out of nowhere and became a way bigger song. And neither of them were flukes. DaBaby’s first 2019 album Baby On Baby (home to both of those songs) is loaded with bangers just like those, and his newer album Kirk has more where that came from, plus a more introspective side that suits DaBaby well. He’s also on some of the year’s biggest albums and singles, like Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding, Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” and Lil Nas X’s “Panini,” and he steals the show almost every single time. If he keeps progressing at this rate, maybe it won’t be long before he’s a Rolling Loud headliner himself.

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DENZEL CURRY

Denzel Curry has been on a roll this year. He’s on the Robert Glasper mixtape that just came out last week, he recently put out a collab single with slowthai, he put out collabs with Fucked Up and Bad Brains, and he released one of the year’s best albums so far with ZUU, which was the quickly-released followup to one of our favorite albums of last year, TA13OO. On top of all that, he remains a master of the stage at his live shows, and he’s got a lot of friends in New York, so don’t be surprised if some hometown faves join him during his set.

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RICO NASTY

Rico Nasty had a gradual rise in 2018, with the sleeper hit Nasty that ended up being one of the year’s best albums. And with all that buzz bubbling up, she has taken 2019 by storm, releasing another great new album (Anger Management) and tons of singles and collabs (including the awesome “Tia Tamera” with Doja Cat) which prove her reign is still just beginning. She often pulls from punk as much as she pulls from rap (she has a killer scream), and that’s clear at her live shows too, where mosh pits are almost guaranteed to break out.

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YOUNG M.A

It feels like it’s been forever since Young M.A took over the rap world with “OOOUUU” (it has actually been like three years), but she just finally released her debut album Herstory In The Making two weeks ago and she’s riding high off that album for this hometown appearance. The album may not have another huge hit just yet, but it shows that she’s a multi-faceted artist, capable of much more than hard-edged, braggadocio anthems like “OOOUUU.”

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CONWAY THE MACHINE

The Buffalo, NY-based Griselda Records crew is having a serious moment right now. They (Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn, and producer Daringer) owe pretty much their entire sound to ’90s NYC rap and completely avoid today’s rap trends, but they’re so damn good at what they do, that they’re catching on just fine in 2019. All three rappers in the crew released good projects this year, including Rolling Loud performer Conway the Machine, who recently dropped Look What I Became. Will he bring Benny and WSG with him? Let’s hope, but even if he doesn’t, he is sure to put on a great set that impresses old school and new school hip hop heads alike.

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KEMBA

Kemba (fka YC the Cynic) has been one of the Bronx’s best kept secrets for a while now, and his great new album Gilda is threatening to finally break him on a much bigger scale. The album boasts high-profile guest appearances from likeminded Midwest rapper Smino and PacNW indie rock giants Portugal. The Man, and it should appeal to fans of both of those artists and plenty of the in-between. He’s a real rapper’s rapper, one who will probably always be loyal to the underground, but he also doesn’t shy away from a good hook (like on the song with Portugal. The Man). And even if he is getting more nationwide recognition than ever, this chance to catch him in his home city is not one to pass up.

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DMX

If you’re seeing a rap festival in NYC, you gotta immerse yourself in some of the city’s rich rap history, and Rolling Loud has made that pretty easy with a more New York centric lineup than the other locations of the festival. In addition to headliners Wu-Tang Clan, one of the most unmissable veteran hometown heroes on this fest is DMX. Though he’s kinda fallen off in terms of new music, there was a time in the late ’90s and early ’00s where he was genuinely unstoppable, and he’s been celebrating that era this year with his It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot 20th anniversary tour. Though rap is in a way different place now than it was in the late ’90s, DMX’s classics hold up and his hometown will probably never stop showing him the love he deserves.

Rolling Loud NYC’s lineup also includes Fat Joe, Pusha T, Playboi Carti, YG, Juice WRLD, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Jim Jones, Action Bronson, Young Thug, Sheck Wes, and much more. Full lineup and set times HERE.

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