It was so smoky in the Birmingham O2 Academy tonight that I could barely see the support for the evening, Trinidad James but I could definitely hear him. The repetitive piercing base featured in every track which meant that it was impossible to work out what Trinidad was yelling about. To be honest on tracks like “All Gold Everything” you don’t want to know what the 26 year old is talking about. That track was possibly the worst song of the support slot but somehow it woke the crowd up and resulted in Trinidad being hurled into the crowd by his bodyguard. It just seemed like James was rapping about the mainstream boring subjects some rappers (Lil Wayne) rap about today like justifying “popping a Molly” (taking MDMA) or talking about “bad bitches” and having a gold chain. Every song was just so dreary and uninspiring. Trinidad is one of those typical featured rappers who spit a few bars on a mix tape, get a bit of money and release a song about things that they know will turn mainstream. It just showcases the state hip-hop has got into over the last decade. Basically Trinidad was telling the crowd if you ever get famous spend it all on b*tches and h*es.
After that dreadful performance I was praying Cameron Jibril Thomasz or Wiz Khalifa for short would rescue the show. We had to wait a while for Wiz to come on as we were treated to a 20 minute DJ Set from DJ Bonics (Taylor Gang’s resident Music Maestro.) He got the crowd going with some A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. After the 20th time DJ Bonics asked us if we we were ready for Wiz Khalifa, finally the 26 year old, new dad snuck onto centre stage. The leader of the infamous Taylor gang took to the stage in a dope two piece tracksuit complete with leather gloves. He looked like a member of N.W.A. not Taylor Gang. It was nice to see a live band on stage and not just a DJ as Wiz went straight into “The Thrill” a song about making it and spending all your money on “different girls and drugs.” Unlike Trinidad James Wiz Khalifa can get away with rapping about smoking weed as not every song is commercially spurted out. As the rapper is formally known as Wisdom Khalifa you would expect at least some wise words in between songs on even on the songs but there wasn’t much wisdom tonight just some classic quotes like “what’s a good party without the good weed” or the menacing chant “Taylor Gang Or Die.” There was a good mixture of tracks this evening, from the more commercial works “Work Hard Play Hard” and “We Own It” featured in the new fast and furious film to the more obscure tracks “On My Level” or “It’s Nothin.”
Halfway through the set there was a slight lull as “Young, Wild and Free” started but as soon as everyone knew what it was it got the loudest reception of the night. Things then rapidly started to heat up as Wiz took his top off for “Ink My Whole Body” to show that he really has tattooed her entire body. But it wasn’t really the best of sights, it was like looking at Snoop Dogg on steroids. The thing I can’t get over is how much Khalifa boasts about his money in songs. Yes everyone knows that Wiz Khalifa can bathe himself in dollars but it just got so boring and tedious after a while. The music itself for Wiz Khalifa is at a very good level and represents Hiphop well but it’s just the monotonous lyrics that drive me up the wall. But this is hip hop at the moment, you don’t have to have a real message to rap about you just need a decent producer and to tick the checkbox for mainstream lyrics. No one knows what “Black and Yellow” is about but it’s one of Wiz Khalifa’s most recognised songs, it just shows you can rap about colours and make it in the music industry.
To round up the night Wiz marched with microphone stand in hand to “No Sleep” as his entourage appeared from backstage to greet the audience. Unlike Trinidad James Wiz Khalifa has an epic backstory he’s been all over the world with his military family and is an interesting individual. It was a relief to get out of the smoke at the end of the night and to finally get my hearing back buttonight Wiz Khalifa was bossing it from start to finish tonight like the baller he is.
Review by John Kirby
Photos by Katja Ogrin