“Blacc Hollywood” Album is Better Live
By Anthony Ferrara
On a bitter cold, windy November night in New York City, Wiz Khalifa took the spotlight at the illustrious Webster Hall. I boarded the train from Union, New Jersey, with a few friends and it whisked us off into Midtown Manhattan.
We arrived at around 9 PM to a forum that was already full of fans. The bar on the lower level still wasn’t too busy yet, though. We ordered from an extravagantly dressed bartender, and tipped her well despite the ridiculous prices which hovered above $10 a drink.
As we made our way closer to the stage, the crowd intensified. There were already spilled drinks everywhere and a huge cloud of marijuana smoke that hung over the growing mob of fans enhanced the spirit of the night.
By the time we had secured a good spot on the floor, about fifteen feet away from the stage, the opening act was about to come on. “Uzi” flashed in green lights on the screen that sat above the stage and the rapper came out and immediately started performing. After he completed his underwhelming short set of three songs, he told the audience a short story about how Wiz Khalifa had found his (Uzi’s) songs on the internet before proclaiming “Dreams do come true!”
When the lights went back on I noticed that there was now a significantly larger crowd on the top floor as well as on the bottom where we were. I went back to the bar to get another drink to find that getting to the bar at this point was completely hopeless. Webster Hall was entirely packed from front to back. I muscled through to
get myself some alcohol and the lights dimmed again. The first track off Khalifa’s #1 album
“Waiting on your time, the world knew this would happen. What seems like a dream to many is just hard work for you” blared through the hazed crowd as tension grew for Khalifa’s impending appearance. They were spoken as the first track on the new album, called “Hope,” was introduced.
There was a genuine feeling of and atmospheric tension setting in the moments right before Wiz hit the stage. Quite surreal, actually.
When he came out, everybody’s hands went up and the smoke cloud got bigger the second he became visible.
Everybody around me was legitimately starstruck, including me. It was something about the way he hit the stage; the spotlight shining down on him as the rest of the platform lit up in deep blue, perpetuating his being. Or maybe it was all the pot.
As he finished the first song the lights went out and Wiz let out his signature laugh. It echoed throughout the venue as everybody screamed and cheered, and then tried to repeat the same giggle back at him. The mob of people I was standing in weren’t very violent at all.
Everybody was too stoned to react in such a harsh way and the zombie look that the majority of the fans had on their faces did nothing to bring down the energy of the show at all.
Anything lacking in hype was made up for on stage.
The fervor intensified even further about an hour into the show when Wiz surprised everybody and brought Busta Rhymes out onstage, who came out with his recently signed protege, O.T. Genasis. Together now, with all of Khalifa’s “Taylor Gang” crew on stage as well, Genasis started to perform his new hard-rap single, “Coco”, with help from everybody else.
Despite how good I believed Wiz performed by himself, this group part of the show definitely peaked as the prime moment in terms of exuberance in the production.
It was right after this whole crew finally left the stage that Wiz started to get personal with the audience. He walked, his shirt off and hanging around his neck, unflustered, back and forth, describing his love and willingness to sing to his audience nowadays as well as performing hard rap songs. He explained how he still likes to connect with his supporters in unique ways and that he appreciated the diversity in the crowd and thanked us for all showing up.
He lit another joint and went on performing another track off of “Blacc Hollywood” called “Promises”. It’s a slow, meaningful track describing a past love situation in his life. The couples in the crowd gathered close. Wiz played more songs off of the new album before getting into some old, mainstream hits like “Roll Up” and “Work Hard, Play Hard,” bringing his unyielding energy back into the show.
My only deterrent towards the whole experience was that he did stick mostly to his mainstream hits, not wavering too much into some of the stuff off of his most recent mixtape, “28 Grams”. So it is clear that the point of the Big Secret tour is to continue to promote the album, after all.
Towards the end of the show, Khalifa’s star power seemed to drop down to earth, holding the microphone out over the crowd and laughing as he finished his last set. Anybody who wasn’t rapping along with him was smiling back, whether they were stoned or not.