Miami festival seeks to be the Ultra of hip-hop

By Montana SamuelsRolling Loud |

A little over four years ago, Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler booked Rick Ross for an after party – their first event as Dope Ent.

Since then, the duo has been touring artists like Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar through Florida, and has now taken another step in their dominance of the South Florida hip-hop scene.

“They’re calling this festival the Ultra of hip-hop,” Zingler said.

Zingler is referring to Rolling Loud, which is presented by Dope Ent. The all-day event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Soho Studios in Miami.

Big name artists like A$ap Ferg, Juicy J, Action Bronson and the aforementioned Schoolboy Q make up the headliners, while the rest of the line-up is stacked with underground favorites in the hip-hop community.

“If we would have just had stuff that has more name recognition, we wouldn’t have had that authenticity, and that’s important to us,” Cherif said.

And for two hip-hop fans like Zingler and Cherif, that authenticity cannot be understated.

The duo doesn’t stay in one place for long. With over 2000 tickets sold for this year’s event, Cherif and Zingler already have their sights set on the future.

“We have a strategic way of building it,” Zingler said. “This year is one day, next year it’s two days. It’s going to be in the same location, larger bill, larger stages, heavier hitting line-up.”

Along with aiming to make Rolling Loud an annual event in Miami, Dope also plans to take the festival to New York and Los Angeles.

Though the trajectory of Dope has been steadily rising over the last four years and change, it hasn’t come without the company’s fair share of work and adversity.

“We’ve been putting in the ground work for years,” Cherif said. “We’ve taken losses, we’ve been in the trenches, but throughout the whole time we’ve stayed plugged into the scene.”

At the core, what keeps Dope plugged in is their love of hip-hop music and the underground music scene.

“I want to see a lot of these underground dudes on the line-up blow up,” Cherif said. “I love when the underground lands in this grey area between underground and mainstream.”

With the line-up that Dope has put forth for Rolling Loud, Zingler sees this very potential with a lot of artists on the bill.

“A bunch of the guys you see on the bill could easily be on the freshmen cover for 2015,” he said.

The freshmen cover, meaning XXL Magazine’s yearly cover, in which the magazine reveals their picks for the newest names in hip-hop with the greatest chance to blow up in the coming year.

Zingler says it was always Dope’s dream to throw a festival. Pair that with the love of hip-hop and exceptional ear for talent, and you have the perfect storm for what seems to be a huge success for the guys at Dope Ent. “For any niche underground artist, or for people who really enjoy true hip-hop music, this festival is the ideal festival,” says Zingler.

With that niche market in mind, Cherif and Zingler have made it a top priority to give fans the best experience possible.

“We wanted it to be the most comfortable experience for the fans,” Cherif says, “because at the end of the day we’re trying to do this for years to come, so we want people to leave with a super good taste in their mouths.”

The future at Dope Ent. looks bright, as bigger venues and possible nationwide tours loom.

And as for Rolling Loud, Zingler sums it up by saying, “it’s four stages, it’s all day, it’s an all ages event, and other than that it’s just going to be really dope.”

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