If you want to see human adaptation at work, watch the fans streaming into Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for Rolling Loud, a three-day hip-hop festival that has completely shut down Don Shula Drive. More specifically: Watch aspiring rappers try to pass those attendees mixtapes and demos on CD. Rolling Loud has garnered a reputation—partly by design and partly by geographical accident—as a festival on the cutting edge of hip-hop. It’s a meeting place for the luminaries of SoundCloud rap, which sprang largely from South Florida. Whether these festival-goers are Lil Pump fans or not, many of them are still in high school, and the men who braved the heat for a chance to be noticed by those in the know might as well be shilling floppy disks. The kids stroll by without so much as an “I’m good.” Too Short selling tapes out of his trunk by the bundle this isn’t—the rappers might as well be phantoms.

Inside the Dolphins’ stadium, on Friday afternoon, fans crawl through endless will-call lines to pick up wristbands. A group of young men around my age (25) are waiting in front of me; they’re recapping the Canibus-LL Cool J beef from ‘97 and ‘98. (If this seems like the kind of thing I would make up to give context and color to a glut of people waiting to get into a hip-hop festival, I can assure you that the heat sapped me of any ability to imagine scenarios involving Canibus.) Everyone is drenched in sweat. One man is wearing some of the Virgil Abloh Nikes with “SHOELACES” printed on the shoelaces. He has a portrait of a fat Pablo Escobar tattooed on his left shin.

The LL conversation drifts to modern New York rap. The consensus is that Dave East is “lyrically” impressive, but is not as “creative” as other artists—one of the examples Escobar gives is Tory Lanez. I’m reminded that on the way to the stadium, I passed, on I-95, a billboard reading, “TORY LANEZ THE GREATEST ARTIST IN THE WORLD.”

After an interminable time near the front of the line, a guy in what his friend rudely clowns as “a Prince-ass shirt” offers the group his spot at the VIP window. “I know the owners, bro,” our Prince-ass friend assures everyone. “I can get you in quick.”