Wiz Khalifa and iMayDay! at University of Miami, December 3

Wiz Khalifa and iMayday!
University of Miami, Coral Gables
December 3, 2010

Wiz Khalifa doesn't take his marijuana activism lightly. It's

no secret that Wiz smokes weed, but he went above and beyond to make

sure everybody who didn't know now knew the score during his set at the University of Miami on Friday.

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Even with the Hurricanes out of the national championship picture once again, several thousand University of Miami students had a lot to look forward to on a comfortably cool night on the UC Patio at the University of Miami. A night of hip-hop of drastic proportions. The small space couldn't hold them. Many had to be turned away and listened to the action from outside the courtyard walls.

Before Wiz did his pot preaching, the crowd was already plenty hyped but didn't know what to expect from the eclectic

characters on stage. As iMayday! MCs Bernbiz and Wrekonize readied their vocal cords at the

rear of the stage, the rest of the Miami-based sextet -- superproducer

Plex Luthor on guitar and keyboards, bassist-keyboardist Gianni Cash,

percussion powerhouse Nonymous, and drummer Lt Hopkins --

warmed up the crowd with a stirring instrumental intro they have been

come to be known for at their local shows. Nonymous and Gianni's ferocious double team of the large conga drum in the far back corner of the stage provided the highlight. From the opening jump, these guys had passion. Just getting a paycheck

isn't worthy of all the energy they exerted.

Wiz Khalifa and iMayDay! at University of Miami, December 3
Photo by Elon Meles

Onstage, Luthor leaves an imposing shadow, with his

heightened frame, long flowing beard, dark glasses, and patent winter

cap hanging down over his ears. Hopkins' dreads whirled around as he

hammered away on the drums to provide the bass line for all to follow.

Nonymous was planted firmly in the back behind his congas, his hooded

presence somehow felt from the front to the back of the crowd. Gianni

Cash has waist-length hair and a stylish mustache that isn't soon

forgotten, but it's his furious funk energy that's most memorable.

The real action kicked off with fan favorite "K2 (Wait a Minute)," with lyrical assassins Bernz and Wreckonize dueling over the keyboard and guitar-laden track. After rolling rather quickly through two of their older tracks, iMayday! reinvigorated the atmosphere with the crowd-crazing anthem "Worst Case Scenario" off their new album, Stuck On an Island. All the hands in the place were up and waving furiously to the beat. The fans who weren't already in the know learned the words quickly, and the infectious title hook spread like wildfire. Bernz and Wreckonize are obviously experts at playing off of each other's vocal talents and demonstrated it deftly.

Wiz Khalifa and iMayDay! at University of Miami, December 3
Photo by Elon Meles

The momentum carried through another pair of earlier songs before "No 1s Lookin," another fast-paced funk feast laced with expert guitar licks. "Technology" showcased the vocal range of Bernz and Wreckonize as well the ability of the band to slow the pace yet still keep the momentum and energy.

The fans were eager for the next act to take the stage but showed their gracious appreciation. When iMayday! wrapped up their set, they razzed the crowd by saying they were going to play a few more songs, but they'd already set it up perfectly for Pittsburgh's favorite son, Wiz Khalifa, to come in and knock 'em down.

Khalifa and the Taylor Gang blasted onto the stage with an elegant stride, and you could tell that the 22-year-old rapper would be in control of the stage. His smile was infectious, and after igniting the crowd with a few quick tracks of his infamous mixtapes, he introduced himself and his Taylor Gang supporters to the rabid Miami fans. His booming laugh echoed over the sound system, and only the ladies' screams overpowered it. "We love you, Wiz!!" could be overheard at any point of the set from various points of the UC Patio.

Wiz Khalifa and iMayDay! at University of Miami, December 3
Photo by Elon Meles

He blasted out tracks from his two studio albums, Show and Prove and Deal or No Deal, as well as the Kush and Orange Juice

mixtape. The melodic beats played backseat to his delicate rhymes. He

finished by playing his most famous single to date, "Black and

Yellow," based on the colors of his hometown teams. The crowd swayed

back and forth and never missed a beat as Wiz led them in his perfectly

timed personal anthem.

By the time the "Playa From Pistol-vania" raced off the stage to thunderous applause, there were even louder chants of "We Want More Wiz!!" Wiz was in South Florida a few weeks ago, but this performance was the one to set the bar to for next time. "Khalifa" means "successor" in Arabic, and this young up-and-comer may be just that to the hip-hop throne.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: Since the concert was at the University of Miami, I knew it had to be good. GO CANES!!! If this party was at the home of the Gators or Seminoles, I would have had my doubts.

Openers: Local rapper John Payan,

who could have easily

been mistaken for a pre-med or law student strolling back from class,

kicked off the action

with "Delayed Gratification" and finished off the crowd with "Afro

Samurai" from his mixtape due out in January. Payan also is a member of

indie rock band Tinfoil Apparatus. He passed the mic to another

Miami-bred lyricist, J-Nics, who laid down some strictly old school hip-hop

tracks from his upcoming album, The

Stimulus Package.

The crowd: Since this concert was not open to the public, the crowd was made up of entirely of University of Miami students, with the few who somehow slipped through the cracks and of course the well-respected press such as myself. Hip-hop style was the norm, with some South Florida casual mixed in among the collegiate masses.

To uniformed security guard: "When is Wiz going on? I'm f#@kin cold."
To shivering fan: "Whenever he is done smoking his weed on the bus."
To guard: "I need that shit just to keep me warm. I thought this was Miami."

Random detail: There was no alcohol served at the on-campus event, so the crowd was extremely well-behaved and the furthest thing from rowdy or aggressive. But possibly that had something to do with the copious amounts of powerfully potent weed wafting through the crowd.

iMAYDAY! set list:

Instrumental Intro

K2 (Wait A Minute)

Last resort

Worst Case

Starting Over


No 1s Lookin


Lost Souls

-- Elon Meles

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