When you think of Wiz Khalifa, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Hit songs aside, the most immediate thoughts of most are a lot of “medicinal” references and partying. Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, as he rarely does not go without saying. The “2012 Billboard Music Awards Best New Artist”, five platinum selling singles in more than one country, numerous platinum downloaded mixtapes, an album that went gold in a time where record sales are few and far between from what they used to be, and one album expected to be due December 4th titled O.N.I.F.C. Clearly he is making his lane, and proving to be worthy of moving up towards hip hop’s upper echelon, if not already there.
For the ninth stop on Wiz Khalifa’s 54 city 2050 tour accompanied by Taylor Gang and his tour DJ Bonics, he rolled through London for his first time to perform at our very own Budweiser Gardens for about 4000 indefinite fans. As a pre O.N.I.F.C. tour to get people excited and know what to expect from it, this was a highly anticipated event by most. It had to be an epic show nonetheless, and the fans outside the venue gave it that feel as if it were going to be. With excitement in the air all around, Wiz memorabilia on almost everyone, and masses of people on either side all anxious to get inside for one common purpose…
The first to start off the show is a new edition to Taylor Gang, Tuki Carter, an Atlanta based emcee, tattoo artist for City of Ink, and former Hollyweerd member. Although his performance was abrupt, being on stage literally less than 10 minutes and only performing two songs, he made sure no one was forgetting it. Immediately running from backstage as Dj Genesis announced the show was about to start, Tuki wasted no time. He jumped down into the front of the stage and gave the fans a minute to interact before even starting his first track, even making sure to get all of the “smokers” in the room to light their lighters before finishing up with his last song; both unreleased from his upcoming works. A short but hype and satisfying performance. His first mix tape under Taylor Gang, Atlantafornication is due to come out October 24th.
Second to come to stage is Berner, a San Francisco based artist and a new member of Taylor Gang, which he just recently signed with in March of this year. He has worked with some prominent artists from the Bay area and released a few independent albums, but he blew up a level to the eyes of the masses after forming a relationship with Wiz. While walking out he gave a few comments to the crowd and jumped right into his verse off a song he did with Wiz and Juicy J called “G.F.U.”, and the crowd really reacted positively to it. Jumping into another hit off his recent release Urban Farmer right away called “Shut Up” produced by D Nyce, which the recorded version also features Chris Brown and Problem, and bouncing across the stage showing he can definitely capture a crowd. After throwing a few exclusive limited edition hardcopies of Urban Farmer to the ones on the floor all crowded in front of the stage and mentioning what a blast the show in Montreal was the night before, he called all the ladies out in the audience and dropped into another song from his latest release “Certified Freak” produced by P Lo. The whole time during the performance most sang along, well the ones who knew his music, as I noticed most ladies and some men in the building did not. After closing with “Clear” produced by Cozmo, he gave a shout out to Taylor Gang and exited as the crowd cheered, leaving everyone to know the party was just getting started, and you could see it. As each artist came out there was more excitement than with the last.
Next to bless the mic was original Taylor Gang member Chevy Woods formerly known as Kev the Hustla from Pittsburgh, PA. Walking out on stage to a life size “Hazelwood Ave” street sign, mostly sticking to songs off his latest mix tape release Gangland and jumping to songs off Taylor Allderdice and older releases, and performing standout songs like “U.S.A.” and “Two Hunned” where he called Tuki back out to perform his verse alongside him. The whole time everyone on the floor and the stands were all vibing along with him. I heard a few bad comments from the people around me, but it was a stand up performance as far as a crowd pleaser goes, so I wrote it off as just them not liking him. The performance that stood out though from Chevy was when he got the whole place going crazy as he did his verse from Wiz Khalifa’s “Cup”. If you did not know Chevy Woods before he came on stage, you definitely knew who he was when he left.
As the scent of “medicinal stuff” got heavier and more people started to cram onto the floor and fill the seating even more, the lights dimmed and we heard one phrase that got everyone screaming; “We Trippy Mane”. As the fourth performer new Taylor Gang member, and 20 year veteran of the game Juicy J hit the stage the atmosphere got even crazier.
Walking out in his Gucci baseball cap, black vest covering a white tee, and white jeans to match, he got right into it. Right away he started doing songs like “Zip and a Double Cup” and “Slob on my Knob”, which were all fan favourites. As the people on the floor all danced and sang along, and a lot even in the stands too, he invited 20 ladies on to the stage with him where he had them all as background dancers to songs like “Dancing Like She…” and his verse from“Lucky Ass B!tch” off Mac Miller’s Macadelic mix tape. I swear people must have showed up late or heard there was still room in the show because even drawing near to the end of Juicy J’s performance they were still showing up. With the females still on stage he continued to drop major songs like his new hit single “Bandz a Make Her Dance”, and they all couldn’t have been done at any better time mainly just because the crowd was already right into his performance, but he took that show to another level with that one. After a few other songs like “Get Higher” and “Erryday”, he attempted to quiet the room as he asked if people in the audience knew what group he was formerly part of. The chants raved loudly “Three 6 Mafia”, and then before they even finished saying that he got into some oldies like “Poppin My Collar” and “Stay Fly”.
As those concluded he began to make his speech he’s been bringing along with him throughout the tour before he gets into his track “Drug’d Out”; I won’t get into it but I’m sure you can just put two and two together. After performing a few others along with “Codeine Cups” to close out, not missing a word his whole performance, he really brought a different energy to the room. Song choices couldn’t have been ordered or chosen any better. This was a highlight performance turning the room up from a 10 to about 50, although it only got better…
As the night went on and a brief stage change occurred where they rolled up the infamous 2050 tour 20 foot shall I say “smoking utensil”, it could only mean one thing… The lights dimmed, and screams started to escalate. As they turned on, none other than Wiz Khalifa took his spot at centre stage behind his elaborately decorated mic stand, dressed in his fedora and leather jacket and grey skinny jeans.
Every single person in that building if not already standing was doing so now. I looked all around the seating and couldn’t find a single person sitting. Breaking right into a cut from “Cabin Fever” and “Phone Numbers” and a few others from mix tape Cabin Fever like “Homicide”, the whole time rocking out and gripping his mic stand like a rock star and doing a few a capella vocals, even throwing it up over his head and bouncing all over the stage as well, and he even does a little solo dance to the instrumental fade out of one of his songs after he brought the crew out before “Taylor Gang” and proceeded with the Gang to perform “Taylored”. Not one moment of the whole time Wiz was on the stage was dull, hearing ladies in the crowd yelling “We Love You Wiz” almost constantly. He then continued to perform two songs from O.N.I.F.C., one featuring The Weeknd titled “Remember You” and another produced by Pharrel called “Rise Above”, which is about people keeping you down and not expecting you to do what you set out to achieve and having the motivation to well, rise above. Also performing other big hits like “M.I.A.” as well as “Smokin Drink” from Cabin Fever 2 and oldies like “Never Been” and “Mesmerized” from previous mixtape Kush and OJ. Never missing a second to show appreciation to the fans and shout out the “smokers”. Wiz’s set really got wild when he got into tracks like “Inthe Cut”,“Still Blazing”,“Young Wild and Free”, and “Ink My Whole Body”. Not one person wasn’t chanting along with him. The character that Wiz is, he was even getting involved enough to jam out beside the bass guitarist and smash the symbol on the drums while in the middle of his verse for “On My Level”. Taking the time to even give a lucky front row fan the drum stick which everyone fought for but Wiz made sure he got it.
Closing up the night he had to perform “Black and Yellow”, the crowd wouldn’t allow him not to, as well giving a very hype encore after having everyone chant “TGOD” with him he dropped “Work Hard Play Hard” the biggest highlight of his set, even catching someone’s panties in the face while he was in the middle of the second verse, and he didn’t even skip a word just did that good old Wiz chuckle we’ve come to love, and hearing it in person was actually even better. As the love for Wiz Khalifa was shown and announced by all fans in attendance ranging from early thirties to preteens, he epically closed out the night getting everyone even more hyped than they already were and walked off stage, leaving what was for me and most an unforgettable night. Jumping from hardcore party tracks and heavy hitters to some smooth songs for the ladies, Wiz had the perfect set because not one person in the Gardens wasn’t into it, but who wouldn’t be…
Overall, aside from the few people I seen that had seizures because of the stage lighting, the show ran smoothly without any technical errors, not one performer missed a beat or had their tracking vocals too loud, it was almost a perfect balance aside from a few songs with heavy bass that made it hard to vocally overpower, and ninety nine percent of the people left that building satisfied. They got their Wiz fix until next time around. Unfortunately though, one artist didn’t make it on stage, Lola Monroe, although I’m not quite sure why she didn’t perform, it would have been a nice edition. I also had the chance to get a few different opinions, male and female, afterwards outside, and the only complaints were that Wiz could have played a few better songs, but with a lot of women in attendance you need that variety so I can’t pass judgement. Some fans were even humbled enough to have seen Tuki Carter strolling through the parking lot after the show. Cheering his name as he threw his hands up in recognition. The 2050 tour coming to London was definitely a great success filled with 5 unforgettable performances. Now we can only hope he comes back again during his O.N.I.F.C. tour…
Review by Colton Beausoleil.
Photography by Nate Warren Tapper.