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?
And The Specific Reasoning Behind Lazy Bars?
Why is Wiz Khalifa rapping out the nose in a high monotone – nobody knows? Why does he try to rhyme the over-annunciated word ‘player’ which woefully matches up with a drawn out phrasing of “scale.” Then you realize, hella lines later, that somehow he is trying to reprise line 4’s ‘scale’ with line 10’s ‘smell?’ That is frustrating to hear as it is to read on paper - but you be the judge; “put it in a joint, not a blunt / don't disrespect mine, player / this not the two, this the one / don't even need a scale / back in high school I used to be the weedman / quarter ounces, half ounces, what you need, man / eleventh grade, made my way up to a P, man / and sent it back if I ever seen a seed, man / and you don't even gotta ask / you know it by the smell / I treat every day like it's a payday / top down, counting up the cake and.” I’m not tryna hate just to hate, but this has to be the worst 12 bars I have ever heard in the history of rap, delivered in one of the worst ways I’ve ever heard as well. If you don’t agree, then you must be smokin’ the same KK that Khalifa is advertising in the song, which is, mind you, a very pleasing strand of marijuana. As of this writing, it does occur to me – much like how Country Pop stars are always talking about liquor because the have a stake in personal liquor brands, Wiz Khalifa does have his Khalifa Kush to push, and albums dedicated to weed smoking and not much else do serve as excellent vehicles to push the brand. Could that be what it’s all about – and the reason for lazy bars.
I’m Really Trying, And Willing, To Celebrate The Music That Deserves It
Okay, so I’m happy to give love to a few songs that deliver solid musical experiences, such as the concussive emotional hits on “House In the Hills”, where Wiz Khalifa really mixes his flow up and approaches the beat with expert precision, applying staccato syllables with variety – and cementing this song as the greatest on the album. Transitioning from that hazy, expensive sounding romance to an exciting stripper song, I can actually imagine leaving the mansion on the hill dressed sharp, smelling good, and with a pocket full of singles, destination - the gentlemen’s club, where a hot Trap track like “Ass Drop”, which alternates perfectly between raunchy booty poppin’ beat and a tender, feminine sound, is sure to give all the strippers pretty and innocent feelings in conjunction with the sexual desire to ‘drop it.’ Yeah, might sound a little schizo when described, but there is an undeniable synergy between little girl and grown woman musicality ever present in the world of Twerk Trap – beginning somewhere in time with a song such as this, continuing with the sounds of Rae Sremmurd, and reaching a lullaby Trap zenith with the music of today, whether from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie or Flipp Dinero. Searching and searching, a final song worthy of my time is “No Gain”, mostly for the warm reinforcement of the harmony and the breezy melody – which uplift the rather basic posturing about counting checks and working hard (at counting checks.) I would say that in the same breezy, yet more epic way, elements of Alt Rocker “Stayin Out All Night” also work – if you were to set it as a soundtrack for cruising to the club.
The Sleeper Hits Have Been Identified, Leaving Only Tracks That Put Me To Sleep
Whether it’s another haunted Drill Time track like “Raw”, where the rapping does not fit the style, or the slow as molasses Trap of “The Sleaze” ruined by nasally drawn our vowels, I am hitting that advance track button. “So High” features an obvious and mainstream choice of a hook, while the wavy lo fi sound is supposed to serve as a comfortable bed for your weed experience, but sounds more like a movie theme song. “Still Down” celebrates the ‘day ones’ you roll with everywhere, perfect mantras for aspiring rappers and college fraternities, but cringey as hell for the rest of us. This embarrassing overly epic anthemia continues on one last terrible song “True Colors”, with a melody line eerily as elementary as “Young, Wild and Free.” Though each track exhibits it’s own spectrum of style, all equally put me to sleep for various individual reasons. Clearly, this type of album is simply not for me, but my biggest surprise is that I disliked it’s contents even more than I disliked the previous record O.N.I.C.F., which is a shock considering my believe that artists should progress with experience. But perhaps I am overly positive and even a little naïve.
2. Track List (13)
3. Official (13)
4. Live (5)
5. Featuring Remixes (8)
7. Similar Albums
8. Similar Artists (8)
9. Album Info
- Wiz Khalifa