Myspace was special. The dawn of social media as the pillar of online connection can be traced back to Thomas Anderson and the website he co-founded in August 2003. One day there will be a documentary on how the platform changed society and all the people who fostered long-term friendships through the site. Two individuals who should be recognized are Cameron Thomaz and Shante Franklin, better known to the wider world as popular rap artists Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y.
An opportunity to communicate is what Myspace provided the pair. It was one of the few ways a young rapper raised in Pittsburgh could connect with a seasoned spitter who hailed from New Orleans. One message led to the two kindred stoner spirits together in a Louisiana studio. The end result was a 15-track mixtape of original songs called How Fly, released to the internet for free in August 2009.
This is a story of an old internet, a time unlike today, and the classic project that delivered the blueprint of cool to a young generation migrating toward blogs for their music, fashion, and lifestyle choices.
How Fly placed Wiz and Curren$y in the conversation alongside all the other burgeoning leaders of the new cool. Now, 10 years later, one week after How Fly was reissued for release to digital streaming providers, the duo returns with a joint album titled 2009. For the past decade, they have collaborated frequently—a brotherhood kinship—but 2009 is their first full-length return. Expectations are high, no pun.
In usual 1-Listen album review fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping.
1. "Garage Talk"
Oh! Out the gate with a dirty, funk-filled drum loop. This will sound disgusting when played from a good pair of speakers. Khalifa beginning the show. This is the Wiz that I look forward to appearing alongside Spitta. A very poised flow with the smooth big talk. Who is this speaking on the interlude? He introduced Curren$y. Nice transition. Whoever produced this record gave the duo a heat rock that could melt adamantium. [Editor's Note: "Garage Talk" is produced by Dame Grease.] Both are floating. Spitta mentioned his son, wow, I can’t believe the coolest rap uncle since Snoop is now a father. Strong intro. I’m excited for what's come.
2. "10 Piece"
“I don’t watch soccer but I like the jerseys.” Spitta is right, the jerseys are nice. The sound for this album is wavy enough to bring tears to Max B’s eyes. Ha, the brag about the crack phone was nice. Wiz! This flow! He’s walking on clouds. This is like watching a stallion gallop around a race track with a robust eloquence. Man, it’s good to hear Wiz sound so alive. That verse was nostalgic of 10 years ago. The hook isn’t crazy but these verses are both worth a rewind.
3. “Benz Boys” ft. Ty Dolla $ign
Slow build up. Dolla $ign! Is this his first sighting of 2019? He was moving like a man with shadow clones last year. There’s something nostalgic about this one, the kind of song you would hear years ago. It’s that feeling of seeing a throwback jersey in modern time. Wish this one had a bit more life in the production. It’s very smooth but pulls down the energy that jump-started the album. Still, not a bad song. The verses are both good. “We a bunch of rich niggas and our kids will be cousins.” I’m here for all generational wealth brags. Spitta back for round two. He’s been in a nice mode since Fetti, maintaining the potency that made him captivating during the early blog era. The beat could’ve been more electric, but I like these three together.
4. "The Life"
Gorgeous keys and Curren$y’s vivid imagery is a great combination. He went from buying lowriders to rapping like one rolling down the highway during a warm summer afternoon. Wiz and Spitta sharing hook duties. Braggadocious. Wiz rapping with his chest out. It’s pretty standard Wiz subject matter, but he’s saying it all with the conviction of a man who is living large. I’m convinced. Hook could’ve been a bit punchier, but enjoyable overall. Top flight wavy music.
5. "Find A Way"
This is a musical cloud. Hearing a soulful loop back there. How Fly had some great samples. Yep, Cardo made a beat soothing as a spa date. Not a bad Wiz performance. Spitta entered with big dog talk. Wiz sounds good, but this beat was made for Pilot Talk era Curren$y. He is walking over an elegant canvas the way a man struts around his man cave when his team scores a touchdown. “Don’t you dare call this a part two,” heard you, sir. Wiz came back for round two. The back and forth is nice. “Find A Way” feels like a legacy statement, the two know that 10 years ago they did something that carried influence through the game. A keeper.
Production has been refreshing as a freshly squeezed cup of orange juice. “Eastside” is smooth as a Hot Wheel speeding across a playset. Curre$y hasn’t phoned in a single verse. The same can be said about Wiz. If anything, sharing the same space has encouraged the two to really put their best foot forward. “Worldwide they know our names.” This is another good record, very solid all the way through. So far, no skips.
7. "From The Start"
We're getting groovy. “This that pink Polo Ye flow,” okay, Spitta. Love the “Through The Wire” reference. Man, he ate mushrooms and watched Scarface, that sounds like a paranoia diet. No way should that be recommended. Loving this one thus far. Nice vocalist on the hook. This is very wavy. Sounds like money. It's taking me back to the days of How Fly. The nostalgic flashback new music can give is a nice experience. Wiz with a nice follow-up. “From The Start” can be expended for another five minutes and I wouldn’t mind. Rewind worthy.
8. "No Clout Chasin'"
Wiz came in singing. This sounds more contemporary than the previous records. The only song thus far that actually sounds like it has 2019 single potential. I like, I like. There’s something instantly infectious about it. Spitta is reminiscing. His flow fell out of the pocket, but I like the redirection. “Kept all my cars but I kept trading in women,” that’s saying something. He mentioned bum deals and how he should’ve read a magnifying glasses under some of those contracts. I’m surprised how much I love this Wiz hook. It’s a triumphant record. The victory lap you take when all the work paid off.
9. "Getting Loose" ft. Problem
Bouncy. The making of a party. Problem building up the hype. This album is fun. Loving the groove. Giving me some serious west coast vibes. Curren$y is water whipping. His flow is a crack rock. Not the kind of beat he's usually dancing over, but he’s getting down. Forgive me, but Blueface would have gone crazy over this. Khalifa. Not bad, sir. He moonwalked. One of my favorites. Easily one of the most infectious records. There’s a nice diversity.
10. "Stoned Gentleman"
Sledgren drop. His sound is weightless with a nice little knock. Wiz mentioning weed being legalized is crazy when you consider the country's position on the legalization of marijuana during the making of How Fly. That mixtape and this album is an elaborate 10-year challenge. “Your girl is hella talkative around rich niggas” is a hilarious thing to say. Sounds like vintage Spitta with modern Spitta’s net worth. We don’t see too many stoners grow up to be gentlemen.
11. "First or Last"
Wiz with the Ricky Bobby reference. That movie is a rapper favorite. Wiz can find that nice middle flow that’s between energized and relaxed. Loving this one. Spitta came in strong. Lifestyle rap still sounds so good when done right. Another line about changing the game. They deserve to be proud. Would’ve been great to hear The Cool Kids on this one. Take us all the way back to the blog era. Worth noting that this effort by DJ Fresh is one of the best beats on the tape. So good.
12. "Plot Twist"
Loving the light tap from the high hats. Love how late the drums came in. This is a Wiz Khalifa sonic playground. If they built beats like this around his voice he’ll give us another Taylor Allderdice. Monsta Beatz is a gift to ears. The songs are wonderfully short. Spitta is sending me to another world with that last stunt. The Nintendo Switch bar may have solidified this as my favorite verse on the album. It was such an elaborate brag. I can’t think of another rapper who ever said they sat courtside just to show off an outfit. Different. Just different.
13. "Bottle Poppers"
“It’s tough to make up lies.” Big facts. I commend all the fiction writers. Wiz and Curren$y got the good packs from everyone. Their chemistry hasn’t felt strained at all. Two rappers who truly complement one another. I’ve felt so broke while listening to this album, lol. “These were 15 hundred, you ain’t got 15 dollars.” Well, sorry, poverty is hard sir. Still a good record even though your bank account will shudder. $300 joints!? What kind of life is Curren$y living?
14. "Forever Ball"
Harry Fraud tag! Curren$y and Harry collaborations are incredibly consistent. This is another winner for their catalog. These keys are moody, a layer of seriousness that’s a nice touch to such a celebratory project. I like Curren$y. He sounds tense, alert, and aware that the world is a cold place for even the wealthy. “Your daddy was scared of the goons that used to drop me off at school.” Tell me more, sir. A strong outro. Khalifa wants to end this one on a high note. He’s in a nice zone. I hope this energy carries into his next album.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y 2009:
Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y’s 2009 is an elaborate 10-year challenge in the form of an album. When placed alongside one another, How Fly and 2009 complete a portrait of two lives. One details their lives before immense fame and success, and before the luxuries of their accomplishments could be fully realized, and the other that gives an update of all that came after a decade of success in the music industry.
2009 isn’t an album about playing in the championship; it’s about savoring the trophy ceremony. 2009 puts on display two artists who are certain. Lyrically, Wiz and Curren$y are performing the tricks they’re known for. It’s like Jordan sticking his tongue out when he drove to the hoop. He did it for the cameras, to be the posterized figure that will hang from bedrooms walls and ceilings.
Fans will see in 2009 the rappers they’ve grown to love, giving them a project filled with what they’re known for, but in modern form. Just like a high school reunion, 2009 is about filling in the lost time by showing how much has changed, but also how much has stayed the same.
2009 isn’t How Fly, which would’ve been a fatal flaw. 2009 is enjoyable because the album sounds like what Wiz and Curren$y are capable of in 2019. There's still fire left in their tanks, a lifestyle worth following all these years later. Consider the album a blueprint that builds upon the direction they're both currently headed, and not an attempt to rebuild where they came from.