Wiz Khalifa caught green-handed

by Ryan Snyder

11.39 grams. That’s all the weed that Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputies turned up when they turned over Wiz Khalifa’s tour bus before his May 1 show at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Annex. On one hand, it was awfully shrewd — or convenient — to be in possession of just within the threshold for simple possession; by law, the 30-day sentence must be suspended, so jail time is not an option. The extensive legal resources he has can take care of the rest. Besides, his 2010 pot bust in Greenville was outstanding publicity for the then-up-and-coming rapper, and both this and the Nashville citation just days earlier made headlines everywhere from TMZ to CNN. That kind of tour press can be expensive after all.

On the other, only 11.39 grams? Forget for a moment that its inhabitants included Chevy Woods, DJ Bonics and whatever other random members of Taylor Gang that might have been in his tour entourage; this bus was for transporting Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, the two most prolific stoners in all of hip-hop. If you’re to believe any one of Juicy J’s songs, he blends 11.39 grams of weed, a half cup of lean, six ounces of Greek yogurt and crushed ice into a breakfast smoothie every morning. That much wouldn’t sustain the whole crew from 28th Street to University Parkway. Either the real stash is a Smaugian trove of beans, blue dream and purple stuff back at the hotel, or “Zip and a Double Cup” and “Young, Wild & Free” are their “Hustlin’.” The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Khalifa did appear vaguely distressed in his tone when he addressed the audience for a promo of his upcoming film Mac and Devin Go to High School early on in his show, though the couple thousand who came out to Khalifa’s set ultimately saw a far more polished and composed rapper on stage than his November 2010 performance here. His performance showed more sophistication than a bunch of random dudes plus the token white guy bucking him around stage. He was alone for almost the entire set, save for an appearance by Chevy Woods during “Taylor Gang” and a full-posse cameo featuring a cheesing Juicy J during “Rich People” to close the show.

Khalifa showed a genuine aptitude for commanding a stage alone, twirling his track-lighted pole mic about during “Cabin Fever,” relinquishing the song’s “red hat” for a brown fedora but keeping the black chucks. The usually shirtless, skeletal Khalifa looked almost normal with a jean jacket to hide his gaunt frame, though his backup mic stand looked healthier by scale with a half-dozen scarves adorning it in Steven Tylerish fashion.

His acknowledgement of the overwhelming whiteness of his audience has never been more apparent than the lackluster treatment of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” he delivered mid-set; rote by comparison to even the most middling bar cover band. The show’s best moments occurred when he evoked his best hooks — his aptitude for which is easily his most marketable skill — into massive sing-alongs. He let the crowd take over on “Young, Wild & Free” and the “Now I just stunt on my own” refrain to “The Race.” “Black and Yellow,” as it were, got an appropriate reception for such a tired, overdone piece of drivel.

D’j’ vu is inevitable in a Wiz Khalifa/Juicy J bill, however. Given their close musical affiliation and affection for the same controlled substances, it’s reasonable to expect some lyrical overlap. When the 37-year old Juicy J drops the line suggesting Caligulan excess, he comes off as a practiced man of leisure while the 24-year old Khalifa is merely puerile with an identical line. I’m only slightly closer to Juicy J in age, so that may just be a case of subconscious ageism in action.

After the show, the fallout from the bust became more apparent. An after-show meetand-greet didn’t go forth, as the small crowd that assembled backstage was abruptly dismissed by the rapper’s personal security. Khalifa’s normally bustling Twitter account was strangely silent in the hours following, with only a message stating “Made it out alive” appearing shortly after 1 a.m. and “They hate us” coming later. His feelings about North Carolina hospitality arrived more obliquely, however, as a tweet from tour production head Dan Saldarini was more conclusive, saying, “The message is clear. We won’t be back.”

Follow Ryan on Twitter at @YESRyan.