Sometimes it feels like Pittsburghs Wiz Khalifa is more brand name than rapper. Not a knock on the
[All pictures by Darryl Richardson]
More review and pics after the jump...
Near-permanently bathed in milky haze of high-grade weed smoke, full-tatted, and rail-thin, the dudes image is un-miss-able after youve seen him once.
Then he talks; His lazed-out timbre unwavering, hands animate and slowly-motioned to articulate whatever point hes making; his rapid-fire, bleated laugh seemingly capable of slicing through the most uncomfortable of interactions. Hes stuck on chill, or just really high, yet assertive, comfortable, almost welcoming even with a camera in his face, getting asked the bajillionth rote question by the bajillionth rote hip-hop blogger in the bajillionth green room its gotta feel like hes been in this year.
From all the vids like this on YouTube to the, no joke, more than 16,000 tweets Wiz has made since he got a handle, and his reverent branding of fans and posse alike as Taylors (from Taylor Allderdice High School he attended) in a vein similar, yet nowhere near as shame-riddled, to ICPs juggalos; its apparent Wizs takeover, or his plans of it, extend beyond the foamy walls of the recording booth. Hes a personality, and while cult might be jumping the gun, I think its safe to say hes found a solid demographic.
Naturally, it showed at his sold-out Ritz show on Friday. Lots of black and yellow Pittsburgh hats sat atop the heads of lots of kids surely not all from Pittsburgh while, ok, I know its like standard practice for a concert reviewer to make some clever witticism about the weed smell at weed-friendly artists concerts, but man, this stuff like, congealed in the air. I cant even describe it, which may actually be a result of breathing in so much never mind.
Wizs DJ/hypeman took the stage a few minutes after and spent entirely too long pumping the crowd up for Wiz. When he finally took the stage, posse in tow, Khalifa broke out into the opening track B.A.R. (Burn After Rolling) from his same-titled mix tape. His verses were cool, articulate, expressive, that is, until his dudes would chime in at the end of each line barking whatever the lyric was. Posse rap sucks. Theres never any real contribution from these guys, and well, yeah, its nice to bring your crew onstage, giving them mics is just dumb excess. End rant.
Even so, it was nothing Wiz fell back on. He knew, and fed, off these tracks; eyes all droopy, sauntering
The sound was huge. Bass hits made the floor literally shake but never went into the red or drowned out Wiz and co. Wizs energy stayed consistent as the set went on and the posse backed off a bit leaving him to take command. On day 44 of a 45 day tour, this is commendable. Even so, it felt a little routine towards the end of the set with Wiz dipping into earlier catalogue tracks like This Plane and Ink My Whole Body. There are only so many basses you can cover when your lyrical mainstays are weed, money, women and the self-awesomeness that stems from the three.
Hes not out to change the world, or write lyrical prose for the ages, which, hey, is okay sometimes. Shit, hes good relief from all the blowhards trying to do this. Wiz is the kid who shows up for the class field trip high as a kite, or the guy sharpie-in up the lightweight who passed out with his socks on, and, well, dudes like that, you cant help but watch.