Wiz Khalifa’s career has had a bit of a whirlwind turn of events after the success of “Black & Yellow”. The single thrust him from underground mixtape artist to major label superstar, yet he was unable to match the success of that single with his 2011 debut, Rolling Papers. While much of that album pandered to radio, failing to garner another hit in the process, he did harness his talent the right way on the Mac & Devin Go To High School soundtrack. A collaborative album with Snoop, the record was a surprisingly solid LP, making up for any shortcomings on his debut. The real test however is O.N.I.F.C., Wiz sophomore record, which ponders whether Wiz is a superstar, or just another flavor of the month.
Only N**** In First Class has had a troubled outlook since it’s inception, as Wiz’s careless rap player persona was put to the test, after fans watched him quickly shack up with Amber Rose. Followed by the release of the O.N.I.F.C. album cover, as seen above, many fans started to speculate that Wiz had been “turned out” by Amber, in some sort of a Erykah Badu/Common/Andre scenario. Numerous push-backs and only a lukewarm single behind it, (“Work Hard, Play Hard”), O.N.I.F.C. finds a December release date, or as we in the industry like to call it, “the record company’s year-end tax write off”.
On a positive note, Wiz does return to his roots on O.N.I.F.C., releasing an album that largely speaks to his core fanbase, with many super-chilled out tracks for the weed-blessed massive. Songs like “Paperbond” and “Bluffin’” start the album out on a mellow note, setting the stage for the rest of the record, which continues at this lethargic pace, for better or for worse. It’s songs like these – and later “The Bluff”, “Fall Asleep”, and “Rise Above” which find Wiz in his element, and at his best.
But these are the big leagues, and the prospect of releasing a mixtape level, stoner rap LP on a major label are a bit of a stretch, and impossible to do so without sprinkling in some commercial tracks to boot. Some of these choices are questionable, such as the semi-likable “Let It Go”, which enlists Akon for the hook (it’s 2012), or the saccharine-dipped crossover track “Got Everything”. If the prospect of the Wiz/Amber romance makes you shudder, songs like this and the descriptive “Up In It” will induce nausea. “Initiation” sounds like it might hit, but Lola Munroe’s ham-fisted, unintended Nicki Minaj impression is laughable at best.
By no means will O.N.I.F.C. close the book on Wiz Khalifa’s career, despite being a sub-par album. His longtime fanbase will enjoy the songs that respect his signature sound, but he lacks another “Black & Yellow” to really take his career to the next level. Despite this, like Snoop before him, Wiz is the type of character rapper that will probably remain in the public eye for many years, even if his albums aren’t as strong as his marketability.
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