Wiz Khalifa - Nokia Theater - 10/18/11
Better than...taking bong hits alone.
For a couple years or so now, the mainstream hip-hop world has been engulfed with what seems to be a never-ending wave of stoner rap. Over the course of his abridged 75-minute set -- due to the venue's strict curfew rules -- Wiz Khalifa showed why he's leading this pack, while also showing off his skills as an MC and an entertainer.
Combining these two aspects in a live performance at a 7,100 capacity venue isn't easy, but Khalifa -- wearing thick-rimmed glasses -- had the near-capacity crowd reacting to each head nod he dispensed and each track he performed.
The 24-year-old's set list consisted of songs from works including Rolling Papers and Kush and Orange Juice. From hipsters to high schoolers, from sorority girls to hip-hop heads, the one common thread in this crowd was allegiance to Wiz's Taylor Gang. Sporting snapback Pittsburgh Pirates caps, Steelers jerseys -- or any item that mixed black and yellow -- many folks clearly felt a strong connection to the Iron City through the rapper's words, even if they weren't from the land of Ben Roethlisberger.
Mainstream success didn't happen overnight for the rapper, who gradually built a loyal cult following after his 2009 departure from Warner Bros. Records. Though many would have given up after being dropped from a major, Wiz has seemed to find his voice and swagger, which translated into him becoming one of the most well-known commodities in the game.
Although the venue was a bit sterile, the tattooed one's charismatic performance had people dancing, bobbing their heads and fist pumping (Jersey Shore style) throughout. Wiz was fun to watch, whether he was running around like a kid at a playground or sparking a J on-stage. It was obvious to everyone that he was having a great time, and people fed off his energy.
"Don't you think for one moment that I don't appreciate you all," the rapper said as. "I appreciate everyone who's down with me and pushing me to be the best I can be. Taylor Gang isn't about weed, though that's cool, but it's about being yourself."
Folks seemed to be down with these sentiments. The dudes consistently had a cloud of smoke around them, bobbing their heads between tokes. When Wiz peeled off his shirt to reveal his tattooed torso, it made the women squeal. It's not easy to appeal to both sexes.
The underrated Chevy Woods did well as Wiz's sideman, keeping up with him while adding a confident voice and a magnetic personality. Even hip-hop legend Too $hort and his bevy of beauties graced the stage for a brief moment.
When Wiz closed with "Black and Yellow," confetti in those colors rained on the fans in the general admission area. Is it possible that stoner rap could be the future of hip-hop? Oh, wait, it already is.
Personal Bias: Wiz is going to be around, but his fans need to stop wearing his shirts to his concerts, that's just not cool.
Random Notebook Dump: Why can't DJs use vinyl anymore? Somewhere Jam Master Jay is shaking his head.
Set list below.
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