An interview with Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif

Tariq Cherif/Courtesy

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This past weekend, the Bay Area was blessed for the second year in a row with the two-day, star-studded hip-hop festival, Rolling Loud. Thousands of hip-hop heads filled the grounds of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum — eager to mosh their hearts out to the songs of popular artists as well as up-and-coming local talents. The festival originated in Miami in 2014 and is continually expanding to multiple regions across the globe.

“We’re so stoked to be coming back to the Bay Area, and we thank the Bay for its welcoming energy. Last year was amazing, and this year will (be) twice as amazing” said Tariq Cherif, the co-founder of the festival, in an interview with The Daily Californian prior to the festival.

The inspiration for curating a hip-hop focused festival was sparked by Cherif’s acknowledgement of a void of hip-hop shows or festivals in comparison to a multitude of multigenre festivals.

With an increase in ticket sales from 20,000 last year to 40,000 this year, it’s evident that Rolling Loud has plenty of room to grow into the space and its place in hip-hop history. With headliners this year such as Travis Scott, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Uzi Vert, Rae Sremmurd and more, the festival continued to prove to be a reliable event for fans looking for the hottest acts in today’s rap genre. The lineup also made sure to shed light on local talent, including Bay Area artists such as E-40, Kamaiyah, Saweetie, Berner and Mike Sherm.

“Any time you go into a market and curate a lineup, you have to respect the locals,” Cherif says. “It’s so important to celebrate the local culture, while still bringing in those top headliners.”

The festival’s lineup generally tends to include very few female artists, however, because of the male-dominated culture of hip-hop. The 2017 Rolling Loud Bay Area lineup included only two females performers: Leaf and Kodie Shane. In attempt to make a step towards a greater emphasis on inclusivity, this year’s lineup invited numerous women to perform such as Tierra Whack, Asian Doll, Lil Kayla, Stunna Girl, Kash Doll and more.

Another change from last year is the festival’s location. The festival has moved from last year’s Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View to this year’s Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Cherif saw the importance for providing this “new world in the hub” of the Bay Area: Oakland

“With a better location and better production, we’re stoked to try to make each show run smoother, make it a better experience for the fans and continue to grow,” Cherif said.

A larger installation, however, required the need for more security to ensure a better experience. With energetic artists such as Travis Scott who is known to curate high intensity crowds in which sometimes fans have even become paralyzed, Cherif mentions that at Rolling Loud “we always encourage, ask and trust our fans to be respectful. Our fans are truly great people.”

He continued: “At our Miami festival we have 60,000 people come out, and we specifically set up our venues, hire the best people in the business and work with local law enforcement to ensure a good atmosphere.”

Despite the rowdy crowd, Cherif noted that Travis Scott was the set he was looking forward to most. “I really love Travis as an artist and as a brand. He’s been great to us and has been with us since our first ever Rolling Loud,” Cherif said.

With a packed lineup, new location and larger-scale production, Cherif was confident that fans and attendees got a chance to experience rap’s present and future up close, having the best times of their lives at the premier live hip-hop experience: Rolling Loud Bay Area.

“There is no other place right now where you can go and see as many as your favorite rappers at one time,” Cherif said. We’re really creating a whole new world.”

Contact Preya Gill at [email protected].