Rolling Papers 2
Wiz Khalifa


Mar 20, 2019

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?

Written by @taylor
Mar 18, 2019

The Secret To Wiz Khalifa’s Success In Rolling Papers 2 Is Bay Area Charm, But Not Much Else

Lemme level with you – Though he’d been making waves in the mainstream Hip Hop industry for years beforehand, I didn’t actually know who the hell Wiz Khalifa was until he teamed up with Charlie Puth for the Grammy Award-winning Pop tune “ See You Again” from 2015 made specifically as a tribute to actor Paul Walker in the film Furious 7 & even then he wasn’t necessarily unique enough to really grab my attention that much; I mean, shit, I didn’t even know he was popular until my mom spent the majority of the awards show gabbing about how endearing Khalifa was, continuously telling me she thought he was a charming man who showed promise for the future of Hip Hop music, even saying he reminded her of my brothers & I ‘cause he was a quaint light-skinned brother who just wanted to have a good time with respect to those around him. I’d spent years having absolutely no clue just how prolific he’d become, repeatedly believing such hits as “Black and Yellow,” “We Dem Boyz” & the incredibly relaxing “Young, Wild & Free” were one-hit wonders from Gym Class Heroes front-man Travie McCoy, even confusing his incredibly straightforward vocalism with the lazy Rap techniques of white-buffalo lyricist Macklemore – As time passed by, I recognized that he was a major player in the new wave of Mainstream Rap idols, responsible for some of the biggest hits the industry has scene in the last decade alone, but he still existed somewhat in the periphery of my interests, a rather simplistic voice in a crowd of style-biters who were churning out the same exact SoundCloud-based Trap styles everyone else was doing, never quite giving me the old-school charisma or revolutionary genre evolution I needed for him to be a regular player in my weekly rotations; That is, until he released Rolling Papers 2, upon which a singular song with a decidedly old-school West Coast vibe was lighting up my pleasure-centers, reminding me of my days as a Punk-ish hooligan ghost-ridin’ the whip with my friends in Oakland at the height of the Hyphy movement back when I was just a teenager, piquing my attention & encouraging me to check out the rest of the album in hopes of finding similar material – Well, I finally took the plunge into Rolling Papers 2 in earnest recently, head held high & expectations turned up to the max, but almost all of my excitement was quickly met with disappointment as I discovered yet another middling-quality modern Rap album with nothing to say other than repetitive lyrics & unenthusiastic hype techniques that had already turned me off of today’s hottest trends.

Mar 18, 2019

Album O.N.I.F.C. Can Be Tied To A ‘I-Made-It’ Mind Set, But Commercialism Has Its’ Creative Costs

Wiz Khalifa has said of the album title O.N.I.F.C. that it is an abbreviated meaning for ‘Only N-word In First Class’, and this swag infused phrasing is supposed to celebrate Khalifa’s success up to that point in 2012, from a career that began totally differently in around 2005. The abbreviation is made both in jest, but also with pride, because one can imagine that a tatted up young black man who hits the airport most likely smelling like Khalifa Kush (his brand) would sort of make an impression in first class – but he certainly can pay many times over for his first class seat while being himself – which is I feel the point being made. Admittedly, I’ve never been a super duper fan of Khalifa’s music, yet when his songs hit, they really hit for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped one of his funkiest slappers ever – “The Kid Frankie”, off his best album, 2010’s Kush & Orange Juice. This is the classic era I most enjoy from the MC, but truth be told, I’ve never been so enamored with his style or aura that I really got into all of dudes’ albums, yet this whole time, I did definitely notice how often Khalifa would adapt his flow to whatever was trending at the time. I remember the debates that would be had during occasional smoke-out sessions with friends and associates about how he was ‘selling out’ etc, yet if only these folks knew that the whole industry would more and more begin to sell out in the same manner, and Khalifa was just someone who was committed to switching up in order to maintain success and stack cash. To compare “The Kid Frankie” to Fast And Furious 7’s “See You Again” is a night and day in terms of cool factor, but the later was the type of music that would make him an international star and also plug him for serious financial reward, as the sappy track became, as of July 2017, the most viewed YouTube video in history, and all told, Khalifa would end up with a net worth of 45 million. Such success defines Khalifa for me more than whether or not he is an amazing rapper – because his flow can have its moments, but honestly, can come off annoying to me just as easily depending on the track. I have never liked that inconsistency I feel about him. O.N.I.F.C. has a mix of regional beats and flows, and serves as an album where I definitely can instantly separate the tracks I love to bump from the ones I don’t.

Written by @taylor

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