Back in 2008 when Mac Miller was just plain old Malcolm, the Pittsburgh MC took a pilgrimage to New York to watch Nas headline Rock the Bells at Jones Beach, the very same theatre where he co-headlined on Thursday night (August 2) with Wiz Khalifa. The experience has quite the effect on him.
“I came to see Rock the Bells when it was at Jones Beach, when Nas was there and f–kin’ brought out Jay, it was nuts,” Mac told MTV News from his tour bus last night of the unforgettable show. “I was there in the crowd, it changed my life, when Nas came out and performed ‘Made You Look,’ that changed my life. Now I get to rock the same venue as a headliner, it’s crazy.”
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As the sun set shortly after 8 p.m. last night, Mac Miller strolled out onstage to his mixtape fave “Best Day Ever.” After his intro song, Mac properly addressed the crowd by telling them his Nas story as well. It was clearly a special night. Looking to start off with a bang, Miller tore into his 2010 track “Knock, Knock,” and from there ran effortlessly through songs from his K.I.D.S., Best Day Ever and Macadelic mixtapes, plus his #1 selling album Blue Slide Park.
“It’s a different type of tour, it’s more like a festival,” Mac told us before he took the stage. “There’s a lot of different acts, there’s like all these buses back here and all these different rappers and people back here chilling… I go out and get to watch a free Kendrick show whenever I want.”
It was about 5 p.m. when Rostrum Records’ latest rap signee, Boaz, set things off as fans made their way from the parking lot party into the 15,000-seat outdoor venue, which sits on the edge of the ocean. With a lineup resembling one of this summer’s many rap festivals, Chevy Woods, Chiddy Bang and Top Dawg Entertainment’s Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar lifted the crowd with their own individually flavored sets.
The truth is, Mac or Wiz Khalifa could have packed the amphitheater by themselves, so when two artists of their caliber co-headline a tour, it’s the fans who come away with the biggest win.
Wiz hit the stage with a rock star’s swagger rocking a white T-shirt, fancy fedora and an American flag tied to his mic stand, and he was backed by a full band. Opening with the title track from his 2011 Cabin Fever tape, Khalifa saluted the women in the crowd with his Taylor Gang charm, chanting, “There’s a bad bitch in here, if you see her point her out,” over and over and over.
Though he’s only one major album in, Wiz’s cavernous catalog of mixtapes allows him to build a deep and diverse set list. In fact, the Pittsburgh spitter was several songs in before he even touched anything from his gold-selling Rolling Papers LP. Instead, Wiz mined his breakout Kush and Orange Juice mixtape and his most recent Taylor Allderdice tape, performing tracks like “California,” “In the Cut” and “The Kid Frankie.” The lively crowd backed their hero word for word when he launched into the latter, spitting. “I live life sucker free,” during the opening moments of the 1980s-inspired cut.
Khalifa went back even further, performing songs from his 2009 tape, Flight School, as well as Star Power and Prince of the City 2 from years prior. There was balance, however, as Wiz rocked chart-toppers like “On My Level” and his #1 hit “Black & Yellow.” The crowd mouthed every word to his most recent heater “Work Hard, Play Hard” and clapped in time with the beat when he closed with “O.N.I.F.C.”
Rather than bask in the crowd’s praise by his lonesome, Khalifa invited his entire Taylor Gang squad onstage to close out with him, as well as specially invited guest J. Cole.
If Wiz, Mac and company could offer his fans only one night in first class, this was surely it.