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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Wiz Khalifa - Blacc Hollywood Review [2]
Posted by Jake St-Pierre on 08.20.2014

1. "Hope" (ft. Ty Dolla Sign) (5:24)
2. "We Dem Boyz" (3:44)
3. "Promises" (3:10)
4. "KK" (ft. Project Pat and Juicy J) (4:09)
5. "House In The Hills" (ft. Curren$y) (4:52)
6. "Ass Drop" (2:46)
7. "Raw" (3:37)
8. "Stayin Out All Night" (4:17)
9. "The Sleaze" (4:25)
10. "So High" (ft. Ghost Loft) (4:09)
11. "Still Down" (ft. Chevy Woods and Ty Dolla Sign) (4:16)
12. "No Gain" (4:19)
13. "True Colors" (ft. Nicki Minaj) (4:15)

I've never been an enormous fan of Wiz Khalifa. I've always had an ear for his bigger radio hits but I could never call myself a diehard, hearty fan. Although his breakout album Rolling Papers was okay at best from a pure quality standpoint, it was backed by the monster hit "Black and Yellow" and songs such as "Roll Up" which earned Wiz considerable recognition, as had his....enthusiasm for the art of smoking marijuana. His penchant for hooks and his very satisfying beat choice also stuck out to hip hop heads and radio listeners alike, and he became the embodiment of hip hop's side of stoner culture after KiD CuDi took his horse out of the race.

However, I HAVE really, really liked a Wiz Khalifa project before. Namely his breakout mixtape Kush & Orange Juice which opened the masses' eyes to Wiz's fun, chilled out vibe-y spin on hip-hop. Rappers like Curren$y had a similar style a few years before Wiz blew up big, but upon Wiz's blowing up, his connection with Curren$y brought the former Young Money member back to the forefront of rap and allowed him to cement his place as the most consistent contemporary rapper that isn't named Mac Miller or Big K.R.I.T. Wiz and Curren$y have a collaborative mixtape out in fact, entitled How Fly that is good for what it is, and if you like Wiz, you'll love that tape.

He followed Rolling Papers up with a film entitled Mac & Devin Go To High School with Snoop Dogg, which was awful in the most delightful way but the soundtrack's lead single "Young, Wild, and Free" proved to be a huge hit for both artists and kept up Wiz Khalifa's massive hype into 2012.

2012 saw the announcement of Wiz's fourth studio album, but it was plagued by pushbacks throughout the year. To promote the album, Wiz released two mixtapes in the latter half of 2012: Taylor Allderdice and Cabin Fever 2, the former of which is celebrated as one of Wiz's best project and better than the album it promoted.

The album--entitled O.N.I.F.C.--turned out to be a big disappointment. Wiz was and is never a rapper to sound particularly hungry on a song, but he'd always sounded like he put true effort into the product he was distributing. While O.N.I.F.C. had its moments, at large it sounded like a very wooden pop rap album with a bunch of weed references thrown in. It didn't quite match the vibe of his earlier projects and mixtapes, and the rhymes were even lazier than they usually are.

The album began a decline for Wiz, who seemed content boinking Amber Rose and churning out boring songs over recycled and equally boring beats. The apex of this decline was the HORRIBLE 28 Grams mixtape that dropped earlier this year. It featured a "change of sound" for Wiz, but it ended up being a terrible blend of AutoTune and trap beats that destroyed a lot of optimistic expectations for Wiz's latest studio album Blacc Hollywood.

Getting down to the bottom line (this album), the best way to describe this project in a nutshell is if you like Wiz Khalifa, I can guarantee you will like this album. It's probably a cop out, but I can't quite say it's a drastic departure from anything he's done before. He has some elements of 28 Grams here, but he actually blends it well with his lackadaisical rapping style and spares us mostly of the ghastly AutoTune that plagued the aforementioned mixtape.

The AutoTune however, did spawn the biggest hit of the album "We Dem Boyz." Even though it isn't a very hard song to digest, it is extremely catchy and shows that Wiz IS capable of making a competent banger. In fact, on Blacc Hollywood, Wiz treats trap beats a lot better and at least showed that he cared this time around, a feeling not all too present with 28 Grams. However, some bangers here fall short of their mark, as evidenced by the grating "KK" featuring Juicy J and Project Pat. Its hook is very off-putting, repetitive and annoying, and while it doesn't have Wiz slobbering all over everything with AutoTune, it still doesn't have much quality to offer. "Ass Drop" isn't offensive, but it doesn't do much for me and the only real reason I don't skip it is because it falls short of the 3 minute mark. Ass anthems turn out not to be Wiz's best topic if you were wondering.

However, despite the trap business, Wiz also reassures us he can utilize the smoked out style just as well as he could 3 years ago. The fifth single off of this album "Promises" has Wiz singing, but his voice sounds great over the ethereal instrumental and the verse he spits on the latter half of the song is one of his more pronounced on the album. It fits with the rest of the album (especially as a comedown after "We Dem Boyz") but could also fit on his more acclaimed projects.

While I will say that I do like this album, it certainly has its flaws. I've stopped holding the "he only raps about weed" grudge against Wiz, because hey, if it makes you money, it makes you money. And there are a lot more acclaimed rappers who are just as stagnant when it comes to their subject matter. Hell, I enjoy the drill movement a lot, but aside from Lil Herb and Montana of 300 none of the rappers are very proficient at doing things that don't involve shooting up a rival gang in 'Chiraq.'

Still, Wiz hasn't gone very far to change his sound here. I can't say I expected him to, but a few extra rolling hi hats doesn't really fill that void for me. His technical ability is still minimal (everybody does that triplet Versace flow, that doesn't count) and some of his hooks are pretty bland too. I'm not asking for Wiz to go EDM like some of Waka Flocka's latest stuff, but a little variation would be nice in places. His tunnel vision when it comes to sound makes it difficult (in certain situations) to sit down and listen to an entire album. I guess Wiz never said he was thoughtful.

Some of the flaws I have are very generalized, but the specific crowning "achievement" of terrible on this album goes to the offensively bad "Stayin' Out All Night." It's right smack dab in the middle of the album and it sees Wiz riding the worst beat I've ever heard him on, and nothing he does or says on the song even comes close to redeeming it. This song did NOT belong on this album and I have no idea what Dr. Luke was attempting. It sounded like Mumford & Sons hooked up with Boi-1da and decided to make people pay for their birth-defected child.

The instrumental was an abomination, the hook was lazier than anything he did here and the verses aren't anything to write home about. It brings down what had been one of his better projects at that point and I found it hard to get into the rest of the songs after that, even though the latter half of this album had some good songs in its own right. Hell, the two songs right after it are two of the best on the album ("The Sleaze" and "So High") which immediately bring the vibe back up even though it took a while to come down from the awfulness that preceded it. The mere presence of "Stayin Out All Night" however, knocks Blacc Hollywood down a couple notches because it severely disrupts the flow of the project, which is a HUGE no-no if I'm grading the album as a whole. Try lighting a blunt to the song and tell me how it works for you. It's horrible.

I'm generous when it comes to hip-hop, despite my tirade over a single solitary song. I enjoy a wide variety of subgenres, anything from Clipping to Waka Flocka Flame. The genre has a tendency to be redundant, but it's something I've learned to keep an open mind on. Wiz Khalifa might be one of the most redundant rappers there is and yes, his weed rap antics do get a little old, but this project was the best thing he's done since Taylor Allderdice and I'm glad to be able to say that. Yes, some songs are pretty bad ("Stayin Out All Night", "KK") but some songs are fantastic ("Promises," "House on the Hills", "So High") and it's a rather cohesive set of tracks if you listen to it all the way through. If you hate Wiz Khalifa, this album won't convince you that he's turned a corner. However, if you like the lane Wiz stays in, you'll vibe with this album immediately.

The 411: Not everybody is going to dig on this album and I wouldn't expect everyone to. Even if he has had some smash hits, I've found Wiz Khalifa's lazy flow and smoked out persona to be an acquired taste for a lot of listeners. If you're an Aesop Rock fan who wants insane wordplay and dense stories, do not pass go, do not collect $200. But if you like to chill out, perhaps snort a marijuana or two, then get this yesterday. However, a couple bad songs bring this down and don't put it in the conversation of "best Wiz Khalifa records", so beware to cringe at a couple points. Overall, it's an easy album to throw on in the background and you can't go wrong with giving it a listen or two if you like this style of hip-hop.
Final Score:  6.7   [ Average ]  legend


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