The background track faded out in the middle of it’s sequence as the lights began to dim. Thousands of fans jumped onto their seats to welcome the prince of their city home once again. After an inspirational and motivational film based on respect and never forgetting where you came from, the Taylor Allderdice graduate entered the stage through the six-foot iron gate which was shaped to his signature “WK” logo. Wiz Khalifa began his set with a track from the chart-topping Rolling Papers 2 album which would be the focus of his tour, appropriately titled “King” as the fans erupted in cheer. The goal of his set was simple – to deliver an incredible performance to those who have supported him from back home.
As the thousands of concert goers walked through the gates of KeyBank Pavilion on Saturday night in mostly black and yellow attire, the only thing separating The Dazed and Blazed Tour from a Pittsburgh sporting event was the overwhelming scent of cannabis in the air. Khalifa built his iconic career on these two simple sensory observations. When Wiz Khalifa released his first single off of the original Rolling Papers album titled “Black and Yellow”, he solidified his persona for the decades of success to come. Khalifa holds pride in both what he loves and where he’s from, something that we should apply within our own lives as well.
The concert began shortly after the gates opened as the former Hazelwood resident and Wiz Khalifa multi-collaborator Chevy Woods took the stage. Khalifa met Woods through the Etna producers I.D. Labs where they discussed the formation of the Taylor Gang group. When Khalifa founded Taylor Gang Records in 2008, Chevy Woods was automatically added to the roster. Being a hype man for Khalifa on multiple tours, Woods set an energetic precedent for the show and for the next performer, O.T. Genasis.
The G-Unit recording artist took the stage representing his home of Long Beach, California. With years in the rap industry and some in the crowd not knowing his name prior to his performance, Genasis delivered a powerful performance showing nothing but love to the people of Pittsburgh. He concluded his set by bringing two fans on-stage to sing his RIAA Platinum single, “CoCo”.
Lil’ Skies took the stage next. Hailing from Waynesboro, Skies was introduced to hip-hop through his father who is known as “Dark Skies”. He later collaborated on an album titled Father-Son Talk following a workplace explosion that injured his father. In the time since, Lil’ Skies has signed to Atlantic Records following the success of his singles “Red Roses”, “Rude” and “Off the Goop”. Skies performed each of these tracks with a setlist that defined his persona to those who weren’t avid listeners and gave his fans exactly what they wanted. Lil’ Skies was the most prominent Trap performer of the night, creating a stage presence filled with energy and bravado. He concluded his set by paying homage to the late Jimmy Wopo, a Pittsburgh rap icon who rose to fame alongside rapper Hardo to progress the modern Pittsburgh rap scene by performing Wopo’s hit song, “Elm Street”. As the framed portrait of Wopo shined in the arms of Lil’ Skies, the arena immediately became aware that tonight’s show means so much more than just performing music. He then performed the single “SAD!” from the late XXXTentacion, who also lost his life on the same day as Wopo.
Fans began to pile in, filling nearly ever seat and square inch of the Burgettstown lawn. A haze of smoke encompassed the venue as the stage crew prepared the next set behind the thick black curtain. At the instant of the first chord of the Mike Will and Swae Lee produced single “No Type”, the fans went crazy to welcome the hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd to Pittsburgh.
“I love Pittsburgh, that’s why I got my black and yellow on!” said Rae Sremmurd member Swae Lee as he pointed at his yellow and black-striped jumpsuit after the song. He and Slim Jxmmy (pronounced “jimmy”) held their performance on a stage with a parodied Brinks Trunk (reading “Brxnks” as it would be used as a prop during the Slim Jxmmy song “Brxnks Truck”) and a small island oasis. The two would continue to bring a dynamic show filled with other chart-topping titles such as “Throw Sum Mo”, “Swang” and their first Hot 100 number-one song, “Black Beatles”. They also performed the Swae Lee-featured French Montana track, “Unforgettable”, which was one of former President Barack Obama’s favorite songs of 2017.
After Rae Sremmurd sent a final salute to the crowd, the stage was set for the second headliner of the night. Seven years after the tour named after the album Rolling Papers, Wiz Khalifa was about to return for the seventh time to the Pittsburgh area to host a performance mainly focused around his latest album, Rolling Papers 2. The title track on this album acts as a reflective journey of Khalifa’s career, which he would later perform tonight. After starting his performance with the song “King”, Khalifa stepped off of the stage as short Jimmy Wopo video clip was played on the screen. In this clip, Wopo payed homage to both the city of Pittsburgh and Khalifa himself. The first verse of Wopo’s “Elm Street” began to play as thousands of fans screamed every word. One could reach out and touch the presence of Wopo’s spirit in the arena during that time. Khalifa later announced that Wopo was expected to join the group on this tour.
Khalifa later brought Pittsburgh rapper Hardo onto the stage to perform the song “Blue Hunnids”, which features both Hardo and Jimmy Wopo. With a smile on his face and a shine in his eyes, both Hardo and Khalifa gave this performance their all to keep the legend of Jimmy Wopo alive in the vicinity of his hometown. After performing two more songs off of his latest album, Wiz performed his breakout hit that was rapped in unison by 14,000 people titled “Black and Yellow”. “Black and Yellow” was followed by the song that describes the work ethic of the people of Pittsburgh, “Work Hard, Play Hard”.
After playing several tracks from Rolling Papers 2 such as “Hot Now”, “Holyfield” and “Real Rich”, Khalifa took the time to play a track from Rolling Papers that would define him for the years to come. The song’s title, “Ink My Whole Body”, refers to the nearly countless amounts of tattoo’s on Wiz’s body. He took the time to acknowledge the massive “412” tattoo on his chest, saying to the crowd “For my whole career, y’all backed me up. When I said “imma ink my whole body” right, I made sure I put that 412 on my chest so everywhere I go, these motherf***er’s know, it’s Pittsburgh.”
Khalifa later brought Lil’ Skies back on-stage to perform their song “Fr Fr” and brought Swae Lee on-stage to perform the hit single “Hopeless Romantic”. Wiz concluded his performance with the chart-topping Paul Walker tribute that’s also the second most viewed Youtube video of all time, “See You Again” and his second single from Rolling Papers 2, “Gin and Drugs”.
Wiz Khalifa achieved his goal of delivering an incredible performance to those who supported him from the beginning and will return to Pittsburgh again.