Review Summary: Jets and Taylors collide in as chill-sounding a crash as you could imagine
I've always thought that Curren$y brought out the best in Wiz Khalifa. The Jet Life rapper is probably one of the most positive influences on his career. The disproportion in talent between the two is quite silly. Curren$y has long been lauded since his break from YMCMB as one of the most critically-acclaimed forces in "weed rap," though he himself has been known to refute this classification. Wiz, on the other hand, while enjoying a good degree more commercial success when it comes to pushing units, has mostly left rap critics scratching their heads. In a world where everyone knows Wiz for the abhorrent "Black & Yellow," many of the Taylor Gang ringleader's staunchest supporters are hardly familiar with his street releases. So whereas Curren$y has made a name for himself releasing high quality after high quality mixtape, Wiz Khalifa has kind of sort of just drifted along on the coattails of his own success.
The two, as a collaborative duo, are finally on the same wavelength in terms of lyrical acumen as well as an ear for production sense on their EP Live In Concert
, the successor to How Fly
the duo's 2009 mixtape. Released on 4/20 after months of delays over sampling issues (the EP was originally supposed to be a full-length, free mixtape), Live In Concert
is a palpable showcase of two rappers who are at the best they've ever been in their respective careers.
The beats on Live In Concert
are luscious, and completely on point- sweeping, engrossing affairs drenched in swirls of pianos, horns, and flutes that wouldn't sound out of place on a Joni Mitchell album. This type of production is typical of any project of Curren$y's, but not so much for Wiz, as his releases usually haphazardly cascade around trap music, mainstream Just Blaze-esque beats, and the big-budget orchestral performances that Kanye West ushered in almost a decade ago. In addition to the thoroughly challenging production, the duo have finally figured out how to match each other on the lyrics sheet. The themes on the album are fairly straightforward- weed, cars, fashion, etc. These are the kinds of things both rappers' fanbases expect to hear about.
"Jets/Taylor Gang, losing's not an option" Wiz spits on "Cabana," a fairly conservative braggadocio in the rap world. "I'm in the regal, you in the rut" Curren$y offers on the next verse, which only serves to up the ante being played out before the listener. On "The Blend" a subdued piano introduces the track before Curren$y chimes in "Nah, ya know what?" as if to say, "fu
ck that" before heralding a beat anchored in a chorus of "whoa-oh's" ala any black 50s doo wop band. The pair also make numerous references to sweets, as an allusion, I imagine, to the finer things in life. This is exemplified best on "Revenge and Cake" where Wiz boasts of cars he's bought but will never drive and Curren$y rhymes on the view from his current location, as he so often does.
Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa are sure to continue their collaborative union long past this EP, and now they've actually justified why they deserve to. Live In Concert
is sure to hold up as one of the best hip-hop releases of the year, and it will perhaps cast both of these artists in a different light than they've previously shone under- Curren$y as a mainstream success, capable of making moves in the sales category and Wiz as a competent underground rapper, capable of making more than club bangers.