On the Record: Wiz Khalifa
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
It’s a safe bet that Honolulu has never seen a happier, animated and content rapper in concert than Wiz Khalifa.
Amidst a string of major moves that included an announcement the Taylor Gang leader had inked a deal with worldwide model agency IMG earlier in the day and was the youngest rapper in the top 10 of the 2015 Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list (his $21.5 million in earnings ranked ninth and was more than household names like Nikki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg).
The many sides of Wiz Khalifa were on display as the tattoo-clad rapper performed for an all-ages crowd at Blaisdell Arena on Tuesday with a thoroughly pleasing performance. Backed by DJ Bonics and three-piece band Kush and Orange Juice, Khalifa made good on his return to the Aloha State by delivering a furious 90-minute set filled with variety and packed with his many personas. Fans got Mega rock star Wiz, Stoner Wiz, Trap Wiz, Turn Up Wiz and Pop Icon Wiz throughout the evening.
One can say the pros of attending an arena concert outweigh the cons. Besides a rise in ticket prices, which fluctuate from reasonable to extremely steep, fans can bank on many bonuses such as a longer show, more extensive stage setup and lighting and a big event feel, all while having the opportunity to soak up the pandemonium and great sight lines from an assigned seat.
For all the fair and unfair stereotypes linked with stoners, Khalifa, who came out dressed in all white with signature gold chrome microphone in hand, showed he is as energetic as can be. The 6’4″, Pittsburgh reppin’ rapper was in constant motion for much of the show, addressing and engaging the audience early and often.
His rock star aura could be felt the instant he stepped on stage at 8 p.m. as he kicked things off with “Taylor Gang” and “Gang Bang” before a mellow vibe took over during kush crave anthem “That Good” before the lights dimmed for “Burn After Rolling.”
The crowd remained fully connected with his every movement but the lulls were obvious as well.
While it was easy for day one Khalifa fans to stay amped and engaged 40 minutes in, if any of the buzz in the arena was lost following properly delivered performances of “Car Service” and “In The Cut,” Khalifa recaptured the crowd’s attention with the hypnotic beat of “On My Level.”
Pops from the crowd weren’t overwhelming — a characteristic of Honolulu crowds that have the tendency to roar loudest when the hits are performed. Khalifa, who remained in somewhat of a performance zone during many of his songs, seemed to not care or notice. He proved to be in good shape, impressively spitting bar after bar without losing his breath and always with a positive bounce to his step.
Khalifa didn’t light up on stage, however, which was strange for an artist so affiliated with marijuana culture.
With mic stand front and center, Khalifa performed “You Can Be Anything You Want” as his lead in to “When I’m Gone,” complete with choreography before following with trap jam “James Bong.”
A few ticks past 9 p.m., raunchy, naughty, bad boy Wiz came out to play during “Ass Drop” as he unloosened his belt to tease the arena’s female contingency. He also lowered the waistband of his jeans a few times as if he were about to reveal even more to the crowd. Later, he lifted his shirt to shrieks from the ladies before removing it completely and letting his dreads loose.
“No Gain,” “No Social Media” and “Burn Slow” kept the crowd invested while 2014 summer anthem “We Dem Boys,” complete with a Khalifa speaker grind, raised the decibel level to the highest point of the evening.
“Honolulu, I don’t want to leave,” he said.
As expected, the immensely talented Khalifa ended the night with his biggest song of his career, “See You Again.” By this point, it’s as if the small yet noticeable durations of dullness never even happened as hands waved from side to side and feelings of warmth, togetherness and triumph seemed to overtake the venue.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.
PICS: Wiz Khalifa at Blaisdell Arena