In concert: Wiz Khalifa at 9:30 Club
“We just came out here to party and have a good time,” Wiz Khalifa told a sold-out 9:30 Club early in his set on Thursday night. This isn’t exactly something you would expect to hear from N.W.A. or Public Enemy, or Jay-Z or Eminem, or T.I. or Gucci Mane. The 23-year-old Pittsburgh rapper has become one of the genre’s fastest rising stars not because of any revolutionary ideas, virtuosic rapping ability or street credibility. It’s because he simply seems like a fun dude to hang out with -- who happens to smoke lots and lots and lots of marijuana.
Weed is a way of life for Khalifa. (It even got him arrested earlier this month in North Carolina.) His current tour is dubbed the Waken Baken tour -- as in wake up, get baked -- the name emblazoned on a giant backdrop featuring drawings of the leafy green substance. His songs are almost exclusively about being high or getting high. His idea of branching out is the tattoo-ode “Ink My Whole Body.” A song like “Up” was much more the norm, though. “Everything’s better when you’re high/If you don’t smoke, I don’t know why.” Points for being straightforward.
For someone who is so perpetually stoned, Khalifa somehow has plenty of energy. Backed by a DJ and five-member crew, Khalifa bounced across the stage and even worked up a bit of a sweat. He started the show -- the first of two sold-out performances Thursday -- wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, stripped down to a white tank top and ended up shirtless, showing off his completely inked torso. His charisma is undeniable; talent is a bit more in question. His lyrics aren’t especially clever, his delivery is appropriately laidback but nothing like the lost-in-the-haze drawl of fellow pot-obsessive Devin the Dude, and the beats he uses are notable mostly for how simple and unobtrusive they are.
His best talent, in fact, is branding. His fans -- almost all of them college-aged -- seemed trained to cheer whenever he dropped one of his slogans. He calls his crew Taylor Gang (as in, Chuck Taylor shoes) and drew applause every time he said “T.G.O.D.” (Taylor Gang Or Die.) His default banter was to simply say “Smoke weed every day!” but that got louder cheers than most of his songs. He tossed rolling papers into the crowd and waved Wiz Khalifa-branded Terrible Towels -- a take-off of the famous version used by fans of his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers -- during “Black and Yellow.” The show was over after just an hour and the audience quickly filed out. There’s little question what most of them were going to do once they got back to the dorms.
| November 19, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Wiz Khalifa
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