PA’s Wiz Khalifa has had an amazing couple of years, slowly building his fanbase brick by brick through the release of a series of grassroots mixtapes and cult singles. With a buzz that labels only wish they could manufacture, Wiz has built an honest career out making songs about the things he likes – weed, women, and money. With an already bubbling career under him, his hit single “Black & Yellow” kicked the doors down, working as the #1 hip-hop song on Itunes for several weeks in a row, thanks to Stargate’s hypnotic production and Wiz’s infectious hook. All signs point to it being clear that Wiz is ready for the mainstream.
Rolling Papers is his Atlantic Records debut, which attempts to remove him from the stigma of being a “weed rapper”. This might not necessarily be a great thing, however, as the album ultimately delivers a watered down version of what the buzz-worthy MC delivered in the underground. “Black & Yellow’s” follow-up single, “Roll Up” is not about blunts or joints, but instead how he’ll appear for his girl whenever she asks. The track is sure to be hit with it’s non-threatening production and sing-songy hook, but ultimately comes off more like something we’d hear from Nelly than Wiz Khalifa. This problem plagues much of the release, actually, as Wiz delivers a series of tender love songs like “Top Floor” and “Hopes & Dreams”; even the “Get Your Shit” break-up song is delivered in the softest manner possible.
In a precedent set by Drake’s Thank Me Later LP, much of the album is delivered at a mellow, laid back pace. While Wiz’s stoner status makes this understandable, the execution of it is not as original or groundbreaking this time around. At times he does nail it with late night relaxers like “When I’m Gone”, “The Race”, and “On My Level”; other times he attempts to create potential follow-up singles like “No Sleep” or “Fly Solo” that once again come off as tissue-soft and watered down.
With such an aggressive single like “Black & Yellow” behind it, not to mention a buzz that every artist begs for, Wiz seemed like he could do no wrong. Unfortunately nothing on this LP lives up to the standard set by the single, or his mixtapes, for that matter. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a super-hyped artist fall flat with his debut (*cough* canibus *cough*). While he’ll surely have a break-out first week sales regardless, let’s just hope he takes this as a learning experience and really comes with it next time around.
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