Ever The Polarizing Rapper, It’s Hard For Me To Determine If ‘Blacc Hollywood’ Is Better Or Worse Than Sophomore Album ‘O.N.I.F.C.’
‘C’mon Wiz. Whatchu doin man?’ At least that is what I would have uttered to the rapper had I shared an elevator with him in 2014. I would have been addressing the fact that the quality of this very famous and successful rapper was on the decline – too mainstream for my tastes, sure, but even in the mainstream ring, how could a heavy weight rap this boringly? Honestly, certain songs herein have maddeningly underwhelming flows – as if Wiz Khalifa is just phoning in his bars. Clearly by now, he has perfected the accent and cadence of the universal stoner, and from a social experiment standpoint, I can say that by sounding like an everyman smoker, his suburban fans must feel a special affinity for these verses, not because they were birthed by ‘a top 5 GOAT of all time’ as some have described Khalifa, but rather because ‘his’ accessible, annunciated sound can be ‘their’ sound as well, give or take a week or two spent in their bedroom with a decent microphone and Logic. Which is why Wiz Khalifa will always be polarizing – not just for me, but for other commenters out there – as his sound more often than not becomes blander and blander with each album, especially as he further cements his place in Hip Hop Pop. But I will go one step further. Has he ever been an amazing rapper, as denizens for devoted fans love to claim. I revisited even the earliest mixtapes, and I have to say, while they show promise, they all show the seeds of laziness as well, which, by the release of Blacc Hollywood some 9 years later, have reached new heights of ‘lazy.’ The first three tracks for instance – intended to be heavy hitters and also indicators of some sense of new direction, are themselves very bland: in terms of either rapping, singing, or wave-riding. “Hope” has a female hating premise which identifies any women in a career-rapper’s space as a gold-digger who isn’t looking for love in the first place, therefore, you better pop bottles and spend lots of cash because that is all she is responding to, i.e., giving her ass up for. Fine, I can get with that level of hedonism and am well aware that a groupie serves a very specific purpose, but my God, Khalifa’s annunciated syllable for syllable delivery is mind-numbing, over the most typical of brooding bell and Trap rhythms. “We Dem Boyz” completely bites off of the soul-killing Chicago Drill sound of Chief Keef’s 2014 output, relegating Khalifa to just another rapper in said scene, albeit one who, again, annunciates when the beat begs for a high school drop out gang land mumble. Not that one should fake something that they aren’t, yet, the miss matched result sounds idiotic and extremely in-authentic. Then, from the misogynistic music of the first track to a tender hearted slow jam with track three’s “Promises”, where the lyrics ask the girl to not get cold feet after an invitation of sex has been brokered, this song is designed with foreplay in mind, though I counter, however over-critically, that if women are typically gold-diggers as explained in the opening track, why on Earth would a girl in Khalifa’s orbit ever play coy, as described in the premis of “Promise.” Thus, already, there is nothing deep at hand going on with the album. We got misogyny, aggression, and a song for the ladies – check, check, and check. What other commercial obligations must be met before Blacc Hollywood can be considered complete?