Pot smoking gets rap endorsement at show

Philadelphia's Chiddy Bang was not a headliner at the Susquehanna Center but was an asset.
Philadelphia's Chiddy Bang was not a headliner at the Susquehanna Center but was an asset. (EMI MUSIC NORTH AMERICA)
Posted: August 07, 2012

On a steamy Friday, Pittsburgh co-headliners Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller brought their stoner-centric Under the Influence of Music tour to Camden's Susquehanna Center. Along with Compton's Kendrick Lamar and Philly's Chiddy Bang, Khalifa and Miller sold out the joint and offered blank-faced attendees a warm place to faint and vomit while espousing their gospels of ganja green.

No joke. Though the exact number of the barfing, swooning kids wasn't quantified, this reviewer hadn't witnessed vomiting like this since Bridesmaids. If retching and collapsing are the new applause meters, Khalifa was appreciated. With his syrupy and pointed voice, honeyed flow, pot-plant polemic, and gangly demeanor, he's Snoop's logical successor if Dogg decides to drop hip-hop for reggae, as he's stated.

Khalifa came out to the welcome strains of an awesomely rocking band. "My weed so strong I swear to God you would think it's cologne," he rapped through the hard-loping rhythm of "California." Marijuana was on the gangly emcee's mind. So was cold cash.

Through the bass-heavy flutter of "Phone Numbers" ("Time is money so I bought a Rolex") and the sparsely arranged "Work Hard, Play Hard" (from his upcoming O.N.I.F.C.), Khalifa was a rapidly rapping spitfire. "The bigger the bill/the harder you bawl," went the speedy refrain of "Work Hard." When Khalifa slowed and lowered his voice to a Leonard Cohen-esque crawl ("Homicide"), the effect made his message even more poignant.

Mac Miller didn't fare as well. The Jewish rapper never had Khalifa's smart lyrical mien or slippery flow. Miller is the Ramones of rap with a predilection for keeping it simple. His charmed frat-boy hop sounded effortless and energetic at the start (the bouncing "Nikes on My Feet") and close (the cagey "Donald Trump"). Everything in between was listless. It was like watching a bad comic struggling with even worse material. To be fair, Miller had to stop his head-charging set early due to DJ laptop problems, but who cares? The goods were the goods, and Miller didn't have them.

Luckily, bark-singing Lamar worked his wonky charm through the industrial-hop grumble of "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and the druggy "A.D.H.D." and Philly dynamic duo Chiddy Bang made pumping pop-hop magic through the soulful strains of "Ray Charles" and "Breakfast."

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