A year ago, Wiz Khalifa was in the process of parting ways with Warner Bros. Records. Today the Pittsburgh rapper has one of the most devoted grassroots fan bases going. His latest independent project, a free mixtape titled Kush and Orange Juice, hit the Web about an hour ago. Khalifa’s supporters immediately pushed the hashtag #kushandorangejuice to the No. 1 spot on Twitter’s trending topics list, and “Kush and Orange Juice mixtape” swiftly broke the top 10 of Google’s hot search trends. (UPDATE: Kush and Orange Juice download” is now No. 1 on that list.) Time for rap aficionados to start paying attention to this guy if they aren’t already.

So how is Kush and Orange Juice, anyway? Pretty solid! Wiz’s on-mic persona is all about having fun. When I saw him perform at a SXSW showcase last month, his permanent grin stood in sharp contrast to the somber ice grills sported by most of the other rappers on stage. As usual, then, he makes his life sound like one long party on this mixtape, recounting endless tales of pot smoke and pretty women. Not the deepest subject matter, but Khalifa’s easy charm, steady flow, and way with a sing-song hook make these tracks difficult to resist. He’s smart about turning his underdog status into a plus, too. “Know we belong on the top, but we ain’t tripping/’Cause we’ll get there in a minute,” he repeats on flute-laced standout “The Statement.” Is it any wonder so many fans want to come along with him?

Khalifa has posted several download links for Kush and Orange Juice to his Twitter account. Check one out and let us know if you’re among his growing legion of followers.

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