The Taylor Gang had the crowd on their feet, offering high times and a higher message
Rogers Arena has remained nearly dormant since the NHL lockout started, but was turned into a giant hotbox on Tuesday night as fans waited for Wiz Khalifa and his Taylor Gang.
The show started off with Chevy Woods, a lesser-known but talented rapper, who is often featured on Khalifa’s tracks. Woods and Lola Monroe, the “princess” of Taylor Gang, made use of every moment on stage, delivering quick rhymes over loud bass, to leave an impression on the hazy crowd.
Those upbeat vibes were quickly replaced when hip hop veteran Juicy J began his set, attempting to create a moody, drug-den ambience. Sadly, The Weeknd he is not. Although the two share similar lyrical material, Juicy J lacked subtlety in both his lyrics and performance, waxing about his love of marijuana before switching to a faster song about MDMA as the crowd roared its approval: “Y’all know I love molly, right?”
Luckily, he switched gears before the audience had to hear about the merits of heroin, choosing to end with his song Bands Ah Make Her Dance which currently sits atop the rap Billboard Charts. For this, Juicy J needed some help.
“I need 100 chicks on stage right now,” he commanded as dozens of young women, some of whom were clearly teenagers, flocked onstage to shake their asses for the crowd. As the women began to dance, Juicy periodically pointed to certain ladies, shouting, “She a ratchet hoe!” before inviting all 100 women back to his tour bus, where he promised an assortment of pills would be waiting for them.
It was disappointing to see someone who once rapped about the intense poverty and drug problems of the south singing about strippers and degrading women onstage.
Although misogyny in hip-hop can’t be placed squarely on his shoulders, he’s reinforcing a stereotype to a generation that isn’t old enough to remember the battle between feminists and rappers in the ‘90s.
Juicy J left the audience buzzing with anticipation for Khalifa. The packed crowd was another impressive testament to the impresario that is Wiz Khalifa. At only a quarter-century old, he’s sold millions of albums, established a record label with a promising roster of artists and put his native Pittsburgh on the map – and he’s going to be a father soon.
Khalifa began with a song from his new mixtape Cabin Fever 2. Khalifa originally found fame through his mixtapes, and thanked everybody who had been “Taylored” with him since his earliest tape came out. He was in good spirits, reminding people to spark and share their joints, and seemed truly touched that the audience was so moved by his music.
It seems that Wiz wanted his show to deliver more than just music and a contact high; he wanted to deliver a message. With the stage as his pulpit, and a giant billowing bong serving as his crucifix in the background, Khalifa took time between songs to discuss empowerment.
“People are so worried about our generation, but do what you want to do,” he said, smiling at the crowd. “Be who you want to be, don’t let anybody influence you, smoke weed but get your shit done.” He ended the show with the aptly titled Work Hard, Play Hard, leaving the crowd excited and inspired.[hr]