Wiz Khalifa has certainly gotten his share of buzz lately. He’s been putting it down on the scene for a few years now, and it’s high time (so to speak) that he and several other like minded individuals (Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T.) got their due. He recently appeared on the much buzzed about remix to Rick Ross’ “Super High”, and from there landed himself a deal with Atlantic of the strength of this Kush & OJ mixtape he dropped earlier this year. MTV most recently named him the “hottest breakthrough emcee of 2010″, while Rick Ross has given him similar glowing recommendations. So is Wiz Khalifa’s buzz all hype, or will he really deliver when he drops on Atlantic one day?
On Kush & OJ, Khalifa comes off as a bit of a one dimensional character, with ambitious of getting high, getting money, and of course, fucking your bitch. He’s got a laid back delivery that finds him naturally riding any one of the album’s mellow moments, always inserting his patented stoner laugh. And from that perspective, he delivers on all fronts. Wiz isn’t one that’s going to go the Flo Rida route and carve out a big club banger any time soon; instead, he’s inviting Flo Rida to the crib after party and smoking him out.
As a mixtape release, Wiz gets to cover familiar samples without the worry of legal trouble (in theory), as he does on songs like “Spotlight” and “The Kid Frankie”, the latter which borrows Loose Ends’ “Hangin’ On A String”. Later on “Visions” we find him refreaking a break last cooked by M.F. Doom. All of these tracks lend to the chilled out vibe that the mixtape lends, however they are some of the album’s strongest moments, mostly thanks to the familiarity.
That’s not to say that Wiz can’t come up with his own, original productions and still keep the listener’s interest. He does so in plenty of places on the album. Both “Mezmorized” and “Never Been” offer blunted 808 basslines and atmospherics that amazingly captured the essence of a smoke filled room, while “Glass House” with Curren$y and Big K.R.I.T. still bangs here as it did on K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. “Pedal To The Medal” is another standout, a subtle sneak attack of a single that gives a taste of what kind of music we can expect from his eventual major label debut.
He doesn’t quite nail it every time, however. “We’re Done” is an obvious crossover attempt, complete with female pop vocalist and uptempo track, and Wiz sounds a bit out of his element here. Meanwhile, songs like “Up” and “Good Dank” go for that super mellow, sung style (think: “Umi Says” or “SpottieOttieDopalicious”), but really only sink in after your fifth bong hit.
Despite the buzz surrounding Khalifa, considering that he is not a super-lyrical rapper, he doesn’t really make up for that fact by bringing anything new to the table in terms of innovation, covering the same topics over and over again throughout the LP. This is weed-smoker music, and in that respect it succeeds, but he may need to find how to channel his talents better to insure his success on the Atlantic roster. We’re sure he’ll figure it out.
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