It’s the longest queue I’ve ever seen at the Roundhouse, stretching all the way back to where the Morrisons is on Camden High Road (a quarter of a mile). Already, plumes of marijuana smoke roll off the audience, and as I walk up, I’ve guessed that I’m at the right show; the fans are smoking up for Wiz Khalifa. Today is particularly special treat for Wiz fans, tonight he’s set to perform his breakthough mixtape ‘Kush & OJ’ in full. To put this into perspective, it’s like Kendrick doing a throwback show to ‘Section 80’ or 50 Cent doing a ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in full – all live.
After finally making it into the Roundhouse, I’m lucky to catch Buddy half-way into his set as support for Wiz. Hailing from Compton, Buddy is rapidly catching attention for his high energy performances; mixing dance, rap and song to create an engaging spectacle. The crowd dance along as he reels off tracks from his upcoming album, including ‘Trouble On Central’ and the infectiously hype ‘Black’. Having performed his own headline show at the much smaller Shacklewell Arms in Dalston 5 days earlier (which was fire), Buddy proves that he could easily fill the much larger and more intimidating Roundhouse, soon.
Once Buddy’s set finishes, the Roundhouse crew proceed to bring out a huge orange piece of plastic which covers a large portion of the stage. As it begins to slowly inflate, the crowd begins cheering as one by one we work out what we’re actually looking at: a giant inflatable orange with “Taylor Gang” emblazoned across it.
Shortly after the giant orange is full, the lights dim down and Wiz strolls out, spliff in hand (of course) and blowing smoke clouds into the Roundhouse air. Opening up with ‘Mezmerized’, the onslaught begins as the crowd revs up in anticipation. Wearing white dungarees, Wiz towers on stage, exuding a wholesome amount of energy with appreciation of the audience from the outset. As Wiz performs his self-proclaimed “favourite joint on the mixtape”, there’s a roar from the audience as the opening kicks of ‘The Statement’ roll in.
Taking a breather after a sprint of an opening, Wiz takes time to show his gratitude to an old friend, who was instrumental in the creation of ‘Kush & Orange Juice’. Inviting a Canadian friend ‘Jake’ on the stage, Wiz explains that he stayed at Jake’s house during some of the recording, smoking copious amounts of weed and drinking Tropicana as he wrote and recorded his infamous mixtape. Duly, fans show their appreciation too, and Jake walks off stage beaming (after a big hug from Wiz).
Getting back into the music, next up is ‘Spotlight’, which induces one of the most inspired sing-alongs of the evening, followed by ‘The Kid Frankie’. After this, Wiz takes another moment to dig a little deeper. Listing Cheech & Chong, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Cam’Ron and 36 Mafia (among more) as his influences, he thanks his fans for realizing his vision about weed and music, and highlights how much the tape means to him as “that freedom of the motherfuckin’ mind”.
The weakest part of the evening probably lies in ‘Up’, where Wiz’s singing could definitely be improved on, but he powers through the vocals, and the crowd join him in passionately chanting “EVERYTHING’S BETTER WHEN YOU’RE HIGH!”.
It’s worth mentioning, throughout the entirety of the performance, that unrelenting streams of smoke seem to radiate from practically every corner of the standing audience, even up to my seat on the second level. Although hardly surprising, considering the context of this particular Wiz Khalifa show, but it it’s amusing nonetheless watching a (usually quite strict) Roundhouse turn into a giant hotbox. Encouraging the crowd from the stage, naturally, Wiz and gang throw out massive inflatable spliffs into the crowd as he starts to perform ‘In The Cut’. “I keep one rolled…” the crowd echo back, as six foot spliffs bounce back and forth over their heads. It’s a spectacle to see, and some lucky fans even manage to leave the venue later in the night, getting on the tube with giant joints under their arms, much to the bemusement of other passengers.
Back to the show, Wiz proceeds to roll another spliff and puff it on stage, while simultaneously ‘Still’ Blazin’, a flip of the classic Alborosie track. Getting the audience to repeatedly scream “Taylor Gang”, he proceeds with a battle cry: “Now we got Taylor’s all over the motherfucking world”. With ‘Pedal To The Medal’ and ‘Good Dank’, the live band on stage get a chance to shine, their instruments filling the vast hall of the Roundhouse.
Finishing the K&O segment with ‘Supply’, Wiz promises us that this is not the end, “we can do this shit in two years”. With his new album ‘Rolling Papers 2’ dropping on July 13th, expect plenty of new content (and new fans) as Wiz enters a fresh era of his already impressive career.
To top off the evening (just when we thought the show couldn’t get any more hype), Wiz declares he’s going to stay on for a little longer. Bringing the evening to a dramatic close he covers some of his most beloved classics, namely ‘Black and Yellow’, ‘On My Level’, ‘Roll Up’, ‘We Dem Boyz’ and ‘Young, Wild and Free’. Finally we get a new song from the upcoming album, featuring Swae Lee, and then he ends the show with the tear-wrenching ‘See You Again’.
Tonight was fully a blast, and I know that I’ll be in the audience for the next show in two years. Long live Wiz.