Kush & Orange Juice is one of the greatest mixtapes of all time.
If you disagree, you just weren’t there. We all only get that one moment at that one age with that one artist who dropped that one album which unquestionably defined that one summer. I’ll never forget it. “I don’t love them, I don’t chase ‘em, I duck ‘em.” Wiz was the man, that was his summer, and he made the kind of body of work that made that feeling contagious.
The energy shifted.
This was at a pivotal point in the genre when the new guard stepped up in clusters and planted their flags down on what we now know as the internet era of Hip Hop. It was a free for all and there were spots for the taking. That summer felt like a movie scored by Cardo, Sledgren, and Jerm; starring Wiz and all of us. This is one of the flyest bodies of work I’ve ever heard. I imagine Taylor Gang sitting around in a boardroom and on the whiteboard are the words “partying”, “smoking”, “fly clothes”, and “beautiful women.” This was music carefully crafted in a lab; the handful of scientists involved brought together for the sole purpose of creating the perfect sonic wake and bake. The whole thing is hazy, dream-like, bouncy, bright, groovy, expertly paced, and Wiz took off on it on pure charisma. He was a young and hungry artist who was always destined for stardom, this was his magnum opus, and he knew all of the above.
Hip Hop had a hand in revolutionizing the music industry in its collapse. The concept of free music was petrifying to anyone following the old model. Napster came through and crushed the buildings and somewhere in there mixtapes started to mean something different within the genre. All of a sudden rappers started dropping tapes that sounded like albums; some that were better than the major label releases of their year. Eventually, as the means of music consumption started to take on a new shape, Hip Hop artist realized music is just a tool to advertise an overarching brand. Kush & Orange Juice came free of charge but we buyed into the brand that is Wiz Khalifa and the lifestyle he packaged and delivered to us. He went number one (trending) on Google and Twitter and got the top trending hashtag with #kushandorangejuice; the download link to his album on his Twitter. This meant something. Fast forward 8 years and the concept of free music and social media is a standard.
“Self made G, did everything on my own bruh.”
Mezmorized, The Statement, Spotlight, The Kid Frankie, Never Been, in the Cut, Visions, Still Blazin; there are actually too many classic tracks on here to name. They all culminate into the story of a young playboy taking flights to different cities, living out of his luggage, partying in hotels, falling asleep in designer clothes, and waking up to sold out shows. The way Wiz himself describes it feels like an Oceans 11 movie on wax. The heist was to figure out a way to smoke weed, be the coolest guy in the room, and get paid to do it. It was an instrumental streetwear drop. It was a musical sneaker release. It was a cool item to have and it sounded like how rocking some fly shit feels. And Taylor Gang packaged it in a way that was conducive to a changing industry. And I was there for it.
Happy Anniversary to Kush & Orange Juice!