Waken Baken: Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Kush & OJ’ still bumps 10 years later
To keep your sanity under corona house arrest, it helps to have something to distract you. The distraction in question here is Wiz Khalifa’s 2010 mixtape, Kush & OJ.
Coming in hot on the heels of his sophomore album, 2009’s Deal or No Deal, Wiz proved his mettle this time around as not only a spitter but an artist. Kush & OJ, named for his wake ‘n bake lifestyle, is 15 tracks of wavy stoner rap, meant to start your day right.
Lyrically, there appear to be several consistent themes: good weed, fine women, partying, and living up fame and fortune. While on the surface the album may appear to be your typical brag rap, underneath is a vision for a better life than where he came from, celebrating how far he’s come like he deserves to.
Now, I’ll be going track by track, reviewing each song on the album. I won’t include interludes and skits, as they’re not as much part of the music.
The album’s tone-setter, “Waken Baken” is a mostly instrumental intro. Clocking in at a minute and a half, psychedelic sounds put you in the zone to chill. It’s in the lyrics, “smokin, chillin, dreamin,” and gives a brief taste of what’s ahead.
Popularizing the term “keep it a shunned,” Wiz takes us on a clap-beat, tropical journey of sound, as the music keeps you how the title implies.
He talks about stunting on the world with his newfound success, as people who were never before are now “mesmerized.” Stand out track for sure.
One of the more interesting tracks, “We’re Done” samples “Our Time is Here” by Demi Lovato from Disney Channel’s Camp Rock. Wiz showcased creativity subverting a Disney song to be a radio-ready song about stunting on haters, uncensored.
This song brings back nostalgia for me, but not one of my favorites. Solid all the same.
With a G-funk beat, Wiz talks passionately about his current lifestyle, which he previously could never have imagined.
With the lyrical imagery of Wiz rolling blunts on a private jet with some bad groupies, it’s fair to say he showed his doubters.
Sampling Dexter Wansel’s 1976 “Theme From the Planets,” this track slows the tempo down a bit from the previous track, and talks about the benefits from the spotlight, clapping back at all the people who thought they were above him before. Another bomb track.
The Kid Frankie
Based on the character Frankie from the 2005 movie The Business and sampling “Hangin’ on a String” by The Loose End, the beat has a laid back 80s R&B vibe. Wiz keeps stunting on the haters and enjoying the life of luxury, as the excess he enjoys harks back to 80s imagery of wild success and lifestlyes to boot.
Tevin Campbell’s song “Could it Be” serves as the sample, a smooth and slow soul laced groove about being so high you won’t come down. However, there is another meaning woven in, as fame makes you feel like you’re riding high and never want to drop.
The song is meant to keep your mood up, and it did just that for me.
Featuring a sample of “Schala’s Theme” from Super Nintendo game, Chrono Trigger (one of my all-time favorites), Wiz lays down some clever wordplay and funny lines. He paints a clear picture with “money as wide as Oprah.” Similar themes show, and another solid track it is.
In The Cut
Frou Frou’s “Let Go” is the sample for this uptempo, almost new wave sounding beat. A chill song about hanging with your friends in the cut, rolling doobies up. It may be a time of social distancing, but a good banger for your Zoom sesh.
A jazz beat lays a solid groove complete with chimes, as Wiz flows about people he knew with his same dreams that lost it all to “some dumb shit.” The title takes on several meanings, one being visions for his life, ambitions of greatness he still strives for.
The other is blurry vision from all the good kush…banger.
A reggae beat with wah-pedal guitar paves the way for a tribute to the herb. If he hasn’t convinced you already, the lyrics to this one should prove Wiz can, in fact, out smoke you.
He reminisces on when he could only rarely get his hands on some as a youth, noting blazin as one of life’s joys. Hard to disagree with a song so clean.
Pedal to the Medal
A chill club-type beat with a clap-trap, it’s a party song and a smoke song in one. It’s upbeat and puts me in a good mood, so I can recommend it. What can I say? I’m biased toward songs about smoking blunts with a clean beat.
A reggae instrumental leads to the most musically distinct track on Kush & OJ, featuring a deep bass-line, wah lead guitar, and melancholy rhythm guitar, backed by a minor-chord playing organ. Wiz talks about people who resent his success, but he rises above it. A sad sounding track, the lyrics are hopeful.
We could all use some of that.
A throwback to 2000s rap, Wiz asserts himself as realer than the rest. He’ll speak his mind, and the rest are faker scared of truth speakers. He has bars for all those who can talk a big game and can’t back up their claim. One of the less memorable tracks, but still alright overall.
Opening with only a snare, then an organ joining in, Wiz closes his mixtape delivering pearls of wisdom about the people who will hold you back in life. This is when he takes the high road, taking his private plane high above it all. It really does use the possibilities of wordplay for being high and “above” things.
A solid round out to a fire mixtape.
It’s hard to believe Kush & OJ is coming up on a decade old, much less that he released it for free back in the day. When you’re stuck inside all day, might as well start it right with some kush and OJ. It’ll help you pass the time and look back on what seems like yesterday 10 years ago.