I made the short flight to London last weekend to catch the double headliner show with A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa at the O2 arena. Both gentlemen have had a great year thus far, Wiz becoming the first hip hop artist to strike a billion plays on Youtube with his monster track “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth, Rocky returning with his superb top ten charting, full length album, A.L.L.A ( At Long Last A$AP). Read on to see what went down.
The journey started on Friday night, touching down in Luton, making my way to my friend’s abode in Watford. An evening of Rocket League, beer and homemade pizza followed. That led to a decidedly late start to Saturday’s proceedings but ultimately did no harm. Once we got our shit together, we made our way to our buddy’s apartment near Canary Wharf, the balcony view of the venue, a nice reminder of the end goal. We collectively decided early on that the only way to do this gig, with Rocky and Khalifa’s lyrical content and over arching vibe in mind, was to get lit. The assortment of pre game beers and half price double shots from a hero bar tender at the O2 provided ample effects.
From there, we strolled past the crazy amount of security and sniffer dogs into the venue where we were met with a haze of smoke as Wiz started in his medley of songs. Some of the sniffer dogs were clearly not on form as most of that smoke was coming from a variety of sloppily rolled blunts, joints and trippy sticks as the standing crowd on the arena floor got into the vibe. I was pleasantly surprised by the show Wiz put on, mistakenly thinking he’d either be inebriated or too high to nail his selected discography. But nail it, he did, starting off with recent release, “Burn Slow”, followed by Blacc Hollywood tracks, “Ass Drop” and “We Dem Boyz”. The crowd were in the palm of his tattooed hands as he dropped some wisdom,
Maybe, he was under the influence? Regardless, from there, he launched into some classics performing “Work Hard, Play Hard” and anthemic career starter “Black And Yellow”. With the crowd singing every word back to stage, you could mistake the show for a Pittsburgh home coming gig. Demonstrating what a seasoned professional Wiz really is. The set closed out, much to the dismay of many, with the ultimate crowd pleaser, “See You Again”. The choral response from show-goers was raptourous and a great sign off. The perfect set up for Rocky to grace the stage. As the confetti blasted from the roof, we aimed for the bar, happily beating the queues to lace a few more pints in before A$AP came on.
At this point, the notes I made to compose this article became a little hazy. If my memory serves me correctly, Rocky performed a few of his opening tracks from A.L.L.A . His presence on stage was magnified by some insanely good visuals. The huge backdrop shifting from trippy acid influenced references to love, drugs, peace and harmony. The bass was heavy, the crowd was hyped and Rocky’s silhouette added to the anticipation of finally seeing him excitedly bounce from side to side on stage. It’s worth noting that vocal delivery was scary good.
Again, I’m not sure I should be surprised but most hip hip shows suffer when it comes to over production at album recording stage translating to a great live show. An off-kilter version of "L$D" was accompanied by more beautiful visuals. Check the video below if you don’t know what I mean. The backdrop to "Canal St." made reference to the original sample by playing the video for the Bones track which was a nice touch.
As the curtain dropped, a cannon popped and the A$AP Mob launched into some older crowd favourites. Rocky exclaiming, “ It feel so good to be here in London again”, a place he has been known to call a second home. The crowd lost their collective minds as Rocky boomed, “Are you ready to get really wild tonight?!” before launching into “Wild For The Night”, a track that produced a plethora of mosh pits. We got into it a bit from there after saying we were too old to mosh. More "Long.Live.A$AP." tunes would follow as the crowd would perhaps be more familiar with those, given "A.L.L.A" has seen much less commercial radio play in it’s relatively short 5 month life span. The show closed out with A$AP Mob cut, “Trillmatic”, a rendition of Rod Stewart, Miguel featuring track, “Everyday” and a europhoric A$AP chant.
The final confetti blast, resembling 100 dollar bills (above) was a poignant reminder of the loss of A$AP Yams, who passed away earlier this year in tragic circumstances. Perhaps, this is what Rocky was making reference to when he said “Sometimes, I hate this rap shit.”
Overall, a worthy trip. Get it? I digress, thanks for reading.