About two months ago, I was contacted by Daniel Kuniansky, one quarter of the management team responsible for supervising the champagne circus known as Waka Flocka Flame. He informed me that Waka Flocka was getting into the business of throwing the most insane parties known to man, and that he needed a website capable of promoting and booking these events.
Apparently, Waka Flocka wasn't just content to sit back and be a rapper – he and his business manager Brick Bronson "cooked up" (see what I did there?) a plan to become a roving party. Bronson had assigned Kuniansky with the task of creating a brand capable of channeling the spirit of the wild wild west, but instead of revolvers popping, it would be champagne bottles.
I tried to temper my incredulous response, because I have developed websites for booking agencies before. “Kuni,” as Kuniansky is known, seemed a little put off by my attitude. You see, I have been working in music for 10 years, doing a mix of “Internet stuff” for labels, artists, agencies, and anyone else with a dream and the requisite digits in their checking account.
My response was due to how many times I have seen rappers get into businesses they don’t belong in. (Reference; “99.9 percent of apparel lines owned by rappers”.) Waka Flocka was to be the beacon artist for Fratshows.com–a “party company”. I remember Kuni specifically correcting me every single time I called Fratshows.com a booking agency. “It’s not an agency, Shane. Seriously. I know this is tough for you to understand, but you have to see what we’re doing. It’s not just Waka doing a rap show.”
Sure. OK, bro. I felt like Kuni was insulting my intelligence. I didn’t want to tell him that his dream was inane and rehashed, and that he wasn’t doing anything that hadn’t been done before. I didn’t want to tell him that Waka Flocka was a borderline rapper at best, and he’s really just known for being loud. I didn’t want to tell him that Waka Flocka was a punchline character to rap meme jokes told by bloggers. So I didn’t tell him these things. I just shut up, and did my job.
After last weekend, I stand corrected.
I wasn’t just wrong. I was “holy shit” level wrong. Waka Flocka is a spectacle that any music fan can appreciate. Fuck, actually, I take that back. You don’t even have to like music to appreciate what Waka Flocka is doing. Waka Flocka Flame is the juxtaposition of raw, rambunctious rap energy, mixed with a crowd you’d normally find at a Skrillex concert.
It doesn’t make any sense at all, because nothing about anything Waka Flocka does leads you to a logical conclusion. It’s chaos somehow (magically?) peaking for 75 minutes of champagne rain, bass, street level choruses, and laser beams. What the fuck just happened here?
Pregaming began in East Nashville, where my girlfriend and I met my homeboy Adam. That phone call went something like this: “Hey Adam, Erin and I are going to grab margaritas at Rosepepper before we go meet Waka Flocka. You wanna hang with Waka Flocka tonight?” Adam did that thing where he tried to sound totally cool, but you could tell he was wrangling unbridled enthusiasm. “Sure, I guess I’ll hang with you guys and Waka Flocka tonight.”
Adam got to Rosepepper 30 minutes before we did, and reserved us all a table. Way to play it cool, bro. At this point I should note that our friend Corey was going to meet us there, but he decided to go see The Kills at Marathon Music Works. Corey is going to look back at this decision later in life and recognize it as it own personal Pearl Harbor. (Side note to my bro: Seriously. Corey. The Kills over Waka Flocka? That’s like when Hugh Grant chose the crackhead over Elizabeth Hurley.)
After a couple drinks, I got a call from Kuni informing me that he’d just gotten into town, having been trapped in rush hour Atlanta traffic on a Friday. At this point, Kuni also informed me that it was Waka Flocka’s birthday, and that an entire crew had driven up from Atlanta to celebrate this event. “Tonight,” he said, “. . . will be much more turned up than usual.”
A short drive across town landed us at Broadway Brewhouse–a local tourist trap. It had the advantage of being close to the venue, so there’s that. It’s nothing against the bar or the staff–they’re always great. Broadway bars and venues in general just charge more for drinks. Everything on Broadway is exorbitantly overpriced, because country music tourists will pay anything for the Nashville experience.
Kuni was with his business partner, a stout, stern, and eloquent Asian man wearing a rap meme on his t-shirt. He informed me that he was a real estate developer in East Atlanta, and we had a short conversation on the finer points of gentrification happening along Boulevard. (“Do your properties come with a bulletproof vest?”) Kuni was unassuming, bearded, friendly, and understated. He would have looked right at home on a fixed gear bike with playing cards in the spokes. They were with another three guys from Nashville–friendly, but definitely not the guys I expected to be working with Waka Flocka.
After one round of drinks, Kuni informed us that we needed to meet up with everyone at Anthem, the venue where the circus would later raise its tents. A short cab ride later, we disembarked, and a black Mercedes Sprinter van opened its doors. Southside from 808 Mafia jumped out and embraced Kuni, laughing and screaming, “Kuniiiiii! That’s my nigga! THIS IS MY NIGGA!” Apparently, everyone from Atlanta was coming for Waka’s birthday party.
(Photo Thanks: Instagram, Kelly Hite Photo, Break On A Cloud)
The was the first time I noticed everyone was wearing shirts, hats, and apparel that read “BSM” on it. BSM is slang for “Bondange & Sado Masochism.” Google it if you’re not at work, and take in the sights and sounds of gag balls, whips, and sex that hurts real goddamn good/bad, depending on your perspective. I giggled to myself every time I saw anyone wearing BSM gear for the remainder of the evening.
If you’re a member of Waka Flocka’s crew, “BSM” means “Brick Squad Monopoly.” I think their name came from a love of masonry, and the artistry of Atlanta’s red clay architecture. After Atlanta was burned to the ground by General Sherman at the end of the American Civil War, Atlanta was rebuilt from the earth around it, from the heart of kilns–a fire that represented Atlanta’s resilient nature.
. . . Or, “Brick Squad” could allude to the sale and trafficking of plastic-packed bricks of controlled substances. I’m going to assume it’s the former, because Waka Flocka’s lyrics are usually about architecture, and never about drugs.
Kuni came over to me and spoke, “Hey we’re just going to head to the hotel for a little bit. Waka won’t be on until 12:00 (it was 9:30 p.m. at the time), so let’s just go chill for a bit.” We all piled into the van, with Waka’s entire crew from Atlanta, including his DJ, Ace, and Southside. Immediately the discussion in the van centered on whether or not we’d have enough all-access wristbands. Kuni’s business partner stalled for a minute and said, “We have too many people coming. We have to get more bands.”
I responded from the last row of the van, “Oh, I get it. BANDS. Band will make her dance. It all makes sense now. I’m gonna write this down in my notes.” The rap posse had a raucous laugh over this. They thought I was funny. I instantly felt cooler because rap guys with face tattoos and gold chains found me amusing. In hip-hop, they call this a “co-sign.”
The *Redacted* Hotel was only two miles from the venue, so we got there without any trouble, and disembarked. We walked through the lobby and drew stares from everyone in the bar/lounge area. Traveling with a rap posse is never unassuming. Approximately six young, white women stared at us. One of them whispered to her friend, “I think that’s Gucci Mane.” (Nope. Wrong. Gucci Mane is in jail.) In the elevator, Southside noticed I had a gold grill, “Kuni, you know this nigga got a gold grill? Damn.” Southside gave me daps. It was my second co-sign in 10 minutes.
Upstairs, several rooms had open doors, and we were led into a suite with Southside and DJ Ace, along with two camera guys, a guy from Tottenham, England, and one other guy who I generally just referred to as the guy wearing Hawaiian print shorts.
Side Note: Cool, black guys–please stop wearing Hawaiian print shorts. It’s not that you don’t look cool. You do. The problem is that cool black guys can wear anything and look great in it. When white guys see you do it, they think it’s also cool for them to wear, when it’s really not. You did the same thing with fedoras.
DJ Ace was breaking up a bag of weed and rolling it into a blunt. We realized quickly that there wasn’t enough booze in the room, so my friend Adam went on a cigarette and booze run. I talked a bit with DJ Ace about the end of the Pacers and Heat series, and watched some highlights of LeBron James dismantling Paul George.
Then, Southside and Ace had a disagreement about who would be facing Miami in the NBA Finals. Southside seemed to believe Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be able to win two in a row, while Ace wanted to extoll the virtues of Tim Duncan. DJ Ace also picked San Antonio to upset Miami in the Finals, to which I posited, “You done rolling that blunt?”
I ventured into the bathroom with Ace and a camera guy, where Ace promptly turned the bathroom into an unbearable sauna. “I ain’t never lost a deposit. These hotels, they find a little piece of a blunt, they’ll charge you. I don’t get caught up like that. See, how I roll up the towels like that? Gotta get ‘em a little wet, and shove them under the door. But when you’re done, you gotta go put them in front of someone else’s room. They got ash on ‘em. They know what to look for.”
We passed around a blunt of unbelievably powerful weed, while the whole room filled with steam. The weed was already burning my lungs, and I was also being choked to death by Ace’s do-it-yourself hotel deposit avoidance plan. After smoking about half of the blunt, I was “full retard” high, but I was trying to play it cool–after all, these were cool rappers, and I was on a roll. You can’t waste two daps inside of 10 minutes by bitching out on a blunt. Plus, aesthetically speaking, I’m not the type of guy who can pull that move anyway. If you’re going to purchase a gold grill, you get all the good and bad that comes with it. Sometimes, the “bad” means you keep smoking when the altimeter warning light is already blinking.
(Photo Thanks: Instagram)
After about 10 minutes, the blunt was done, and I floated back into the room, taking a seat on the bed. Adam walked back in the door at the same time we got done smoking. Perfect timing. He was armed with a bottle of Bulleit, and Patron. There were no mixers, so Ace’s friend in the Hawaiian shorts just poured us all full cups of liquor. In hindsight, this was a horrible idea. I had eaten, but drinking a bucket glass of liquor will get you faded quickly. We were also on a time crunch to finish two bottles, because Kuni walked in the room to inform us we’d be headed to the venue in 15 minutes.
Our room had dwindled in population to just five at this point. Southside and the camera guys had disappeared once they were informed the requisite “rap girls” had arrived in an adjacent room. It was just me, my girlfriend Erin, Adam, DJ Ace, and Hawaiian shorts.
Five people. Two full bottles. 15 minutes. In rap circles, they call this “getting turnt up.” Cups were filled, bottles were chugged, and about 10 minutes later, we had almost completed the task. DJ Ace then spoke up and suggested we just put the bottles inside his pelican case. I thought to myself, “Oh, now you mention the fact that we didn’t have to collectively chug two bottles of liquor? Quick thinking, Ace.” The weed and the alcohol normally would have conspired to fell me like a mighty oak, but for some reason, my mood was stable, and I felt fine. Scientifically speaking, this is called “The Waka Effect.”
The Waka Effect (feel free to Urban Dictionary this) happens when a human being gets within a 100 foot distance of Waka Flocka Flame. All rules of sobriety and drug consumption are suspended. When any human is within range of Waka Flocka, their alcohol and drug tolerances experience a boost of exponential proportions.
Somewhere, in a nearby room, Waka Flocka’s aura was sheltering us from the usual rules. His shamanic powers focused through all the walls, permeating every bottle and blunt, zapping their powers of inebriation, and replacing them with Brick Squad superpowers.
The Waka Effect had also permeated others in the room. Southside noticed that my girlfriend Erin had quickly downed her cup of tequila, noting she could hold her liquor well. Erin replied in her southern drawl, “Put Patron in my cup, I’mma drink it.” My friend Adam posited, “Erin, you should make that into a rap song.”
Southside and Ace then started rapping, “Put Patron in my cup, I’mma drink it.” “Drink it!” Ace shouted in the elevator. As the doors opened into the lobby, Ace was still chanting along, so we continued, as a group, with Adam carrying the refrain, “Drink it!”
Down in the lobby, we met up with more people who had come to party with Waka Flocka. The entire crew was an assortment of perhaps 40 people–managers, road managers, agents, main chicks, summer ho’s, winter wifeys, DJs, hype men, security guards..
Erin informed Southside and DJ Ace that she’d send them a contact for 16.67 percent of publishing once they were done recording her song. “I’m a white girl. I know how to write rap songs.”
Before Waka emerged from his suite, we hopped into a Denali with Kuni and his business partners, and headed to the venue to make sure everything was in order. We all stood next to the stairs for the back door, with Kuni organizing the security effort.
We also watched various rap crews show up. A flat black Cadillac CTS-V and a gloss black Bentley Continental parked, and several young black men emerged from the vehicles. I’m going to assume they were rappers. (With that said, they could also be young, black business men, with high-six-figure incomes, or perhaps the children of wealthy people. However, I’m going with “rappers” due to their levels of tasteless jewelry, trendy urban clothing choices, and creative use of the English language. One of the young men loved my grill, gave me daps, and called me a “hard ass white boy, right ‘chea”. Can you believe how many daps I got? If these things were POGs, I’d be so goddamn popular.)
Two minutes after we arrived at Anthem, the black Mercedes Sprinter rolled in, performed a 28-point turn, and parked near us at the back door. A moment later, the door burst open, and a booming voice filled the entire parking lot.
Waka Flocka Flame jumped out of the van and popped a bottle of champagne, spraying me, Kuni, and the half dozen or so people nearby, and then embraced his manager. “Kunnnnnniiiiii!” Then, he jumped around, hugging and high fiving all his friends, and sharing happy birthday wishes. From behind a smoking fence, his fans were lifting their camera phones above the fence line, yelling, “Waka Flocka have my babies!” and other entertaining sexual/child-bearing wishes. (“I lick your butthole!” was especially endearing. I bet she says that to all the guys.)
Security was the name of the game at the venue. Waka is an insulated man–you literally cannot get near him without being a known member of his close crew. Not even the “rap girls” at the hotel were in line with us at the back door. Well, actually, allow me to clarify: Some of the rap girls appeared to have made the cut. The women with us were all extremely attractive–I guess the others from earlier in the night didn’t make the (pardon me for the pun) BRICK SQUAAAAD!
After security gave me the most thorough search I have ever experienced, we ascended the stairs, walked through a narrow hallway behind a bar, to a catwalk, up a small set of stairs, and then his security guard ushered us into the green room. Buckets of ice and mixers were “turned up” with a spread of Fireball and Tito’s. Waka immediately yelled, “We gon’ need more glasses. We only got one rule here. We pour drink til the bottles run out!” Then, he put a cup in everyone’s hand, and poured everyone in the room a drink. I didn’t expect Waka to be serving everyone, but perhaps that’s just his thing. I would have been perfectly comfortable serving myself a smaller drink, but he went ahead and filled everyone’s cup about halfway.
I hate Fireball. I avoid it at all costs. It burns, it gives me a stomach ache, and I think it tastes like hell. Yet, there I was, in front of one of the most famous rappers in the world, being prompted to take a triple shot of it with everyone in the room. Looking like a punk in front of Waka wasn’t going to be an option, plus Southside was standing directly in front of me, so if I somehow choked, gagged, and spit my drink out, Southside was going to get covered.
We raised our glasses. I reached for my inner Zen, blocking out all thoughts, and focused solely on not puking. I drank the triple shot of Fireball in swoop, and somehow, magically, I was fine. Then I realized what had happened: The Waka Effect. His mere presence blocked my gag reflex, and I was able to take down the Fireball, without so much as flinching. I didn’t feel drunk, or stoned. Everything was perfect. The energy in the room was electric.
Kuni walked over to me, put his arm around my shoulder and guided me over to Waka Flocka. “Hey Waka, this is Shane Morris–he’s the guy from EARMILK. He also did our Fratshows site.” Waka looked at me, incredulously. “You the guy who does the website stuff? Damn. And you’re grilled out? Damn again. So you’re out here getting it huh?” I thought about quoting rap lyrics from 2 Chainz as a response, but “riding around and getting it” seemed ridiculous to say. So I nodded and replied, “You run the streets. I run the Internet.” I made a gun motion and a keyboard motion with my hands. Waka smirked, shook my hand, and laughed. “Ha! Alright then.”
“I’m supposed to interview you for EARMILK at some point tonight, but I know it’s your birthday, so let’s get this done after you get off stage.” Waka nodded, gave me daps, and I wandered off because I was prompted to do shots of tequila with Southside and Ace. The night was going well for me, and alcohol seemed a faraway problem. I talked with just about everyone in the room, getting to know the crew–and everyone was grounded, humble, interesting, and fun. Waka Flocka is surrounded by down to earth people–not stereotypical, egotistical rap personalities. It’s refreshing to see rappers and rap crews divorce themselves from that.
After doing a couple shots with Southside, and talking to the guy from Tottenham, I noticed half of the crew had disappeared, so I asked Waka’s bodyguard where everyone went. “Through the backdoor, follow the candles, and out to the patio.” He pointed toward a backdoor.
I turned on my flashlight app, walked through an unfinished portion of the top floor, and out onto a rooftop-turned-smoking patio. Waka Flocka was standing with perhaps a half dozen people, enjoying the night air. He saw me walking up the stairs, and addressed me by my first and last name. “Shane Morris!” Waka boomed.
When thinking about Waka Flocka, there are basically two volumes: booming and barely audible. It’s like having a gas pedal in your car that is either idling, or mashed all the way to the floor. It makes conversations more entertaining and engaging.
Rather than me interviewing him, he started interviewing me, asking me questions about EARMILK, Fratshows, how I met Kuni, my girlfriend, my grill. He seemed genuinely interested in the answers, and followed everything I said with eye contact, listened to my responses.
Then he slapped the side of his pants a few times. “Where’s my cell phone at? Who has my phone? You got it?” He turned to a security guard standing next to me, who shook his head. He then turned, heading inside–I followed him. “Waka, you got white girl problems, man.” He turned back and laughed at my anecdote. “That’s so true though. White girls are always losing they phones. Real talk.” He ducked his head, and went inside.
I briefly considered challenging him to a game of basketball, but I thought better of it–assuming it might just be the alcohol talking. Waka is a big guy even by my standards. He’s an inch or two taller than me, and at least 50 pounds heavier. That places him at around 6’4” or 6’5”, and somewhere around 240 pounds. Had he not been a rapper, he could have been a pretty damn effective small forward, with a solid post up game.
However, upon going inside, I asked Southside and Ace if Waka could hoop, and they gave me conflicting answers. So now I’m reconsidering my position, and placing a wager.
Waka Flocka, if you’re reading this, I’m officially challenging you to a game of basketball, one on one. If you beat me, I’ll get the Bricksquad logo tatted on my forearm. However, if I beat you, you have to get the EARMILK logo . . . somewhere that you aren’t already tattooed. Nashville or Atlanta, you can pick the court.
Back inside, Waka ended up sitting down, and refilling my drink cup. My girlfriend wandered over and slurred “Wakaaaa!” (loudly). He looked over behind my back, toward Erin, “Oh your girl turned up huh?” He reached out his hand and said, “What’s your name?” Erin boasted her best southern accent, as she often does when she’s been drinking. “Erin.”
Waka shot back. “Well, your boy Shane has gold teeth, so we gotta get you a rap name. You’re gonna be E-Fly. Shane with the Gold Teeth and E-Fly.” Waka lifted his drink, I lifted mine, and we drank to it. Kuni wandered over and stood next to me as Erin continued her rambling. “Waka, I want to tell you thank you, for my ass. You’re on my workout playlist! Ten percent of my ass is thanks to you!”
Kuni shot me a side glance, I shrugged, we both looked at Waka, who told Erin, “Well, thank you for putting me on your playlist.”
You know, it’s that awkward moment when your girlfriend loudly announces to a rapper, something about her ass, in front of said rapper’s wife, and we all just have the understanding that “white girl wasted” is happening.
Sensing the situation, Southside jumped in and told Erin her ass was fantastic. I don’t remember the exact phrase he used, but I remember being proud that Southside had complimented my girlfriend’s ass. I mean, when it comes to objectifying women, rappers do so with a verve and zeal that cannot be topped. Rappers know asses. That’s like an Iron Chef complimenting your white truffle-infused, grilled salmon.
The whole dialogue made me realize what’s so endearing about Waka Flocka; he’s a cool dude. He’s not pretentious. He doesn’t talk about himself. He treats everyone like he’s known them for 10 years. His demeanor is calm, reassuring, and friendly. He smiles at everything, and has a booming laugh. If Waka Flocka wasn’t a famous rapper, touring the world, he’d still be the kind of guy you’d want at every party.
It was time to redirect the situation. “Erin, you want some tequila?”I asked. She nodded happily, smiling. I went out in search of Ace and his pelican case. The tequila was no longer in the case, because Ace (clutch move, bro) had put it on ice. I grabbed three glasses. I poured myself a shot, and Erin a shot, and was in the process of pouring one for Ace before she filled nearly the entire cup with Patron, and took it from my hand. Before I could get the “Let’s have a toast to . . .”, Erin was pounding chilled, ice cold tequila. Almost a whole bucket glass.
Ace looked at me with admiration, and gave me daps again. However, that moment of daps was tainted. It was fake cool and I lied. Erin never drinks tequila like that, and the spirit of “turning up” had taken over. In my head I was thinking, “I have about 30-45 minutes before I pull her out of here by her feet.”
As 12:15 a.m. rolled around, everyone in the green room was taken downstairs to VIP areas next to the stage. DJ Ace took the microphone, turned up the music, and started playing heavy, grimy, trap beats.
Then, everything I understood about live performances changed completely. It was as if the entire room had been lightly dusted with cocaine–like a confectioner does with powdered sugar on a delicate pastry. But, instead of creamy white, soft beignets, it was creamy white, soft Vanderbilt students.
Waka let loose with a resounding scream of something complete unintelligible, he ran onto the stage with Southside trailing behind him, and the entire room started physically shaking. I don’t mean that as a hyperbole. I mean that in the literal sense. There were 1,000 people jumping up and down, bouncing off the walls, absolutely losing their minds.
I have been to at least 50 events at Anthem over the past two years. London, the co-owner, is a friend of EARMILK, and has always been cool, calm, and collected under pressure. I caught him out of the corner of my eye as Waka took the stage, and he looked like a man staring death in the face. His face said, “Holy shit my building is going to come apart.” I have gone to every manner of rap and EDM concert at Anthem, and nothing comes close to what Waka Flocka did Friday night.
DJ Ace climbed the DJ booth, stood on the edge, and began screaming, jumping up and down, and ad-libbing all of Waka’s chorus lines. Southside was running around like an insolent child, throwing a temper tantrum, arms and legs flailing everywhere. Waka’s dreads bounced up and down with all his violent rapping. Every few minutes, multiple bottles of champagne and water were emptied onto the crowd.
It bears mentioning that it wasn’t really champagne. Adam was talking to some attractive women in the green room, who were anticipating Waka spraying champagne on the crowd. Adam explained to them that it wasn’t really champagne, it was just sparkling wine, because champagne has to come from a certain region of France, or something. I wanted to cut him off, but it was just too funny watching him cockblock himself.
. . . back to Waka. You have to experience it. However, I do think I know what happened here: Waka Flocka is an authentic version of something EDM tried (unsuccessfully) to co-opt, trap music. Before every asshole dubstep DJ decreed their newfound love for “trap beats, yo,” trap music was something Atlanta had perfected. Trap isn’t just a style of music though. It’s a way of partying, and a whole culture that former dubstep, money-driven white boy DJs from Kelowna, Canada, and San Francisco just can’t replicate. (Cough motherfucking cough, shots fired. You know who I’m talking about.)
I’m from Atlanta, so I can speak to this from a personal standpoint. I never knew what trap shows were, because I never knew they existed. If you were going to a rap show in South Atlanta, you were going to see a trap show it just wasn’t called “trap.” College Park, and really any good house party near the AUC would be a “trap show.” We just never called them that.
When EDM DJs tried to co-opt trap, they failed miserably, because they thought trap was just a sound, a time signature, and a lyrical style. They looked at trap objectively, understood the components, and said, “Hmmm. I can make this, too.”
I liken it to those guys who think they can convincingly build a Lamborghini replica, using a Pontiac Fiero chassis, a small block Chevy, and a body kit they ordered online. It’s true, you can get something that looks a lot like a Lamborghini by doing that, and on the freeway, you might even fool a few people. However, if you actually look at it up close, it’s abundantly clear the kit is trying hard to be something it’s not. Respect where it’s due for all the hard work and effort, but it’s still fake.
That’s why I don’t go to see trap DJs and their events; because I’m from Atlanta, and I know what the raw, intense energy of a trap show is supposed to be, I always walk away disappointed. I can’t look at a white kid from Brooklyn, in a snapback, and a tank top, pumping his fists, and call it trap music. I know better, because I know the difference. It’s a Fiero, trying to be a Lamborghini.
Waka Flocka isn’t co-opting anything, because he’s the living embodiment of trap. He’s not just a Lamborghini, he’s a fleet of Ferraris and Lamborghinis, flanked with G-Wagens on 26s, filled with scantily clad women, throwing money out the window. Trap is a conspicuous excess of everything, and then topped with more.
Typically, a ticket for a show at Anthem isn’t more than $20 at the door. Waka Flocka meanwhile, was $40. If you want a Lamborghini, you have to pay for it, because the Waka Flocka circus doesn’t allow Fieros in the tent. When his crew boasted about budgeting $1,000, for 100 bottles of champagne, just to spray on the crowd, they meant it. Hyperbole is the reality with Waka Flocka, and his level of everything is Spinal Tap-esque. It goes to 11, in a tongue in cheek, self-aware way. It goes to 11, because 11 is louder than 10, and their amps go to 11, so don’t question it. The entire show is a caricature of what movie directors attempt to recreate in riot situations.
When Waka Flocka ended up headlining Ultra, my friends in EDM couldn’t figure out what was going on. EDM Blog Land openly questioned it, because they looked at it like the trap they thought they understood. They looked at it like people who had never been to a Waka Flocka show and experienced what they were trying so desperately to emulate.
Talking Point Number 1: “Waka Flocka isn’t even a good rapper.” You’re 100 percent right. If you’re looking for pure lyrical ability, look elsewhere. What Waka Flocka is doing has absolutely nothing to do with his ability to wax poetic about deep, intellectual issues. It’s surface level, drug dealing, cocaine-infused goodness. Remember that rap is first and foremost a performance-based medium and that lyricism can often get in the way of the moment.
Talking Point Number 2: “His beats aren’t even as good as ‘Insert Artist X here’.” You’re also 100 percent right. There are studio producers out there who can create super-melodic, squeaky clean, beautifully crisp trap style beats. But the truth is this that in a true trap setting, it’s up so loud, the speakers are clipping, and all that clarity goes out the window. It’s supposed to be repetitive and basic, because trap music is simple, and uncomplicated. But also, listen to the sonic doom and boom poured by Lex Luger all over 2010’s Flockaveli–that’s an apocalypse.
Talking Point Number 3: “It’s just drug dealer music. Listen to the lyrics.” Yes. Exactly. You’re talking about trap music. Trap, as in trap house. A place where you cook cocaine in a Pyrex container with some baking soda, turn it into malleable crack, and then cut it up into little crack rocks.
Talking Point Number 4: “He doesn’t belong at Ultra. That’s not his scene.” Well, sorta. When EDM DJs attempted to replicate trap, it was the rough equivalent of someone driving into south Atlanta, and selling cocaine that has been stomped on by every dealer along the way. Dealers selling bullshit product are muscled out, and now Waka Flocka is returning the favor.
EDM stepped into Waka Flocka’s territory, where he was serving his customers, and started trying to pass itself off as crack – and it wasn’t crack. Now Waka Flocka is stepping into EDM’s “trap” territory, and showing all the EDM fans what real trap music actually is.
With all that said, big festivals really aren’t where trap belongs. Trap was only at big festivals, because fake trap DJs decided to put trap there. Trap music belongs in little rooms, where every single person can be showered with champagne. That’s why Anthem was so perfect for a real trap show–it’s about a 750 capacity venue. Had Waka Flocka played at Marathon Music Works, it wouldn’t have been the same.
Waka Flocka Flame is the circus. Everything he does is a spectacle, and a performance. His lyrics are about selling cocaine, stacking money, and riding around in Ferraris. Does he actually sell cocaine? Absolutely not. He’s a professional entertainer. But he booms into the microphone about selling cocaine. Are lions in the circus actually man-eaters? Absolutely not. The majority have their teeth removed, but they still roar like lions do.
For the past five or so years, EDM has thrived on high energy, DJ-driven shows. About two years ago, EDM DJs began branding themselves as trap. And exactly 24 hours ago, it occurred to me that Waka Flocka is about to make more money than Oprah. With Waka Flocka, fans of EDM are getting the DJ-driven show they’re used to, but they’re getting it with more energy, more fun, and more pure entertainment than they have ever seen, heard, or experienced.
Attending a Waka Flocka show is like doing a burnout in a rented Lamborghini, and then taking it right up to 200 miles per hour. It’s stupid, insane, expensive fun, for a very short amount of time–but goddamnit it will put a grin on your face that doesn’t go away.
Now, yell it with me: BRIIIIIIIIIIICKSQUAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!