In its third year, Wiz Khalifa’s Under the Influence of Music tour lineup reads like an ideal catch-up with the many styles of Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts.
The Pittsburgh rapper shared the stage Sunday night at Jiffy Lube Live with an Atlanta trap veteran, California trendsetters, an Auto-Tuned crooner and an R&B sweet boy, making it the summer’s best sampler for contemporary hip-hop.
After performances by up-and-comers Mack Wilds, Rich Homie Quan and Ty Dolla $ign — and some rush-the-stage antics instigated by the tour’s de facto MC, DJ Drama — it was time for IamSu and Sage the Gemini, who are part of a Bay Area crew that has been just as responsible for the West Coast’s ratchet revolution as L.A. hitmaker DJ Mustard.
While showing off their fancy footwork, they ran through a medley of the syrupy, trunk-rattling tunes they’ve helped birth during the past several years, including Sage’s viral hits “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose.”
Next up was gravel-voiced gangsta rap veteran Young Jeezy. After a brief false start, Jeezy ran through songs from his deep catalogue, backed by a band that turned drum machine orchestras into stadium-sized rap-rock. It didn’t quite work; performing in front of larger-than-life letters that spelled out his name, Jeezy favored a lackadaisical approach, content to simply swagger across the stage and bask in the crowd’s devotion.
Compared to Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa is a different type of hustler: the weed-obsessed beanpole in a Pirates baseball jersey is a pure showman. He’s a capable if uninspiring rapper, and as much as he tries, his singing voice is not sturdy enough to put him in the same league as dual threats such as Drake and Future. But he rapped every line with feeling and added some rock-star poses and goofy karate moves that were fine showcases of his childlike exuberance.
Between songs, Wiz was a fount of stoner wisdom, dispensing feel-good platitudes about self-acceptance and millennial empowerment. “I want to make everyone feel special,” he assured the crowd, which he did with a style that borrowed liberally from across the rap landscape. Joining poppy anthems such as “Roll Up” and “No Sleep” were austere Atlanta trap tracks, West Coast party anthems and the Chicago-influenced “We Dem Boyz.” With his mashed-up style, Wiz is the resin that held the diverse bill together.
He played about 10 songs before launching into his biggest hit, “Black and Yellow,” the ending of the song punctuated with cannon blasts of confetti. The timing was odd; what felt like the climax of the show became the midpoint as he continued to reel off increasingly out-there material.
But while the concert began to drag on like a conversation with a stoner, sing-along “Young, Wild & Free” provided an apt rallying cry for the young crowd: “So what we get drunk? / So what we smoke weed? / We’re just having fun / We don’t care who sees / That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Kelly is a freelance writer.