The air in the Buckhead Theatre was thick with a cottony haze of what I can only assume was anticipation. Strangers became friends as the DJ played popular records at half-volume and everyone found a comfortable spot in the crowd. There was a long break between the openers and headliners, perfect for folks moving on their own time, drifting in slowly until the packed house was ready for Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y the Hot Spitta to bring their collaborative 2009 mixtape to life on stage.
The friendship between Wiz and Curren$y is so comfortable and easy. They crack each other up, cut jokes, and constantly praise each other’s skill in front of the crowd. I’ve seen rappers give each other props on stage many times, but never with such genuine affection and mutual admiration.
They each had their own couch set up on the left and right sides of the stage, and in between solos and freestyles, they would frequently recline back in their corner for a sip and a smoke, and, along with the audience, just watch their friend shine. They acted like two friends at home, each perfectly in their comfort zone, just doing what they love to do best - rap.
Curren$y is and has consistently been one of the most talented lyricists in rap, and once he relaxed a bit he put on a clinic, effortlessly threading clever freestyle verses together. Wiz would rap and sing, sometimes just humming out tunes that Spitta declared to sound like “the song of the weed” itself.
Both rappers were easy to hear and understand, a testament to their skills as MCs and to the sound crew on tour with them. Rap shows can really suffer in terms of the balance between clarity and loudness, but this performance was flawless and sounded crisp and clean all night. The sound was full and rich, with plenty of bass, but at no point did it feel overpowering, distorted, or harsh. It was, in keeping with several other themes of the night, just meant to be comfortable and fun.
At a few points, especially after songs about jewelry and cars, Spitta made it a point to make sure that everyone in the audience had a plan to start a business, stack money, and not spend it foolishly until they could afford to. “Stack it to the top of your head and then spend down to about your knees, but not all the way!” Wiz shouted in agreement. Through the haze, Wiz dealt himself repeated refill pours from a bottle of McQueen Violet Fog gin, the liquor brand he pushes alongside the various endorsements and distribution deals he has for cannabis products.
All through the night, the pair projected positivity and encouragement into the audience, telling everyone to chase their dreams and work with their friends to find success. “Who here has dreams and things they want to achieve in life?” Wiz asked the crowd, getting a response of cheers and hands in the air. “Go get the money!” shouted Curren$y to every young entrepreneur who would listen “or else we’re wasting our time here.”
Not everyone can rap, and almost nobody can rap as well as these two, but their friendship and success were a great reminder for everyone in the audience that dreams can be achieved and that good friends can be a big part of getting there. Coming out of one of the chillest crowds I’ve ever stood in, into the cold night air to catch my Lyft home; I felt encouraged, uplifted, and motivated in ways that few concerts inspire me to be. In a world where everyone seems to be moving so fast and there’s so much worry about the future, Wiz and Spitta offered a grounding message of positivity, hustle, and camaraderie. None of us can be certain what the future holds, but without a doubt, 2009 dropped right on time.
Photos by Andrew Najjar for Bullet Music