Review: Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y – 2009
In 2009, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y were among rap’s exciting prospects. Wiz had one studio album, a handful of mixtapes, and an eventually gold-certified single in the previous year’s “Say Yeah.” New Orleans native Curren$y had already cycled through periods with No Limit and Cash Money, embarking on a mixtape-oriented run that landed him a spot on the 2009 XXL Freshman list. That August, Wiz and Curren$y released the How Fly mixtape, which remains among the most popular mixtapes in internet history, downloaded close to one million times on DatPiff alone.
The 15-song project, which occasionally flashed Wiz’s potential for chart-topping superstardom, mostly served as a showcase for their chemistry. The subject matter was on brand, which is to say rhymes about weed, women, the overall momentum of the Taylor Gang and Jet Life movements. Some songs like “Car Service,” “The Checkpoint,” and “Rolling Up,” were and are classics for a certain generation of listeners (earlier this month, How Fly officially appeared on streaming platforms for the first time). Yet while Wiz and Curren$y have appeared on dozens of songs together since How Fly, their follow-up project, 2009, seemed locked in a perpetual state of “coming soon.”
They remained compatible collaborators, but their careers ultimately brought them down divergent paths. Wiz had the greater chart success and pop culture exposure — appearing, for example, in a new Oreo commercial with his son Sebastian that aired during the Grammys. As for Curren$y, he’s rarely waded into the mainstream, preferring to stay relatively low-key, amassing an enormous catalog while still maintaining quality control. Fortunately, on 2009, which they finally released last Friday after years of fan anticipation, they successfully recapture the feel of How Fly with higher-definition and updated production from names like Cardo, Sledgren, and Harry Fraud.
After it opens with the big, thumping drums of the Dame Grease-produced “Garage Talk,” the album takes it down a couple notches for a smooth, mellow ride amid comforting clouds of Khalifa Kush and Andretti OG. Aside from the choruses and bridges, most songs have exactly one verse apiece from Wiz and Spitta. On that note, some of the hooks come courtesy of guests: Ty Dolla $ign underwhelming on “Benz Boys,” Problem on the distinct West Coast bounce of “Getting Loose,” and an uncredited Pittsburgh singer named Tommy Girl on “From the Start.” Wiz generally brings the more confident, extroverted energy, while Spitta exhales the more clever, tightly packed stuff: “I don’t like soccer, but I like the jerseys/ They look good with my jewelry on and my butter brown skin tone.”
There are plenty of lines on 2009 that both Wiz and Curren$y could’ve rapped 10 years ago, but there are others that they couldn’t have, at least not without lying. “Now we fathers, know that God got us, they be tryna foul us/ But we never die-ers, gang lifers, rap game survivors,” Wiz raps on “10 Piece.” “Don’t you dare call this shit a part two/ This a whole ‘nother animal,” Curren$y later asserts on “Find a Way.” He’s right. 2009 is vintage Wiz and Curren$y while also affirming their continued compatibility and relevance.