The American, joint-smoking rapper Wiz Khalifa released his sixth LP on February 5th, being known for one of the biggest songs of 2015, ‘See You Again’ for the soundtrack to Fast and Furious 7. Following a twitter feud with the ruthless Kanye West, this album found a huge amount of attention attracted to it. Kanye made several bold statements to Khalifa over twitter, but one of relevance was “no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through”. This must have added pressure to Wiz to make this one of the best albums he has ever created, particularly with the upcoming release of Yeezy’s album next week. There was a lot of speculation that the twitter feud was a publicity stunt, as it was too much of a coincidence that both rappers had albums being released in the same month. Also, just days after the altercation Khalifa’s ex-wife Amber Rose, who publicly embarrassed Kanye in defence of her ex-husband, posted a selfie with his wife Kim Kardashian who was supposedly the initial reason for the disagreement.
After a two year break from making studio albums, Wiz has brought us Khalifa. With a total of thirteen tracks, a lot features, including his two-year-old son Sebastian. Khalifa has dedicated a great deal of time to this album it appears, as he hosted a listening party in New York a couple of days prior to its release, with his son’s mother, Amber Rose, sharing on social media that she attended. Khalifa tweeted to thank ‘everyone for coming through and smoking a joint at the listening party’. After the success of Khalifa’s previous album Blacc Hollywood in the US (it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart) the rapper clearly wanted a repeat occurrence, which may have been the reason he took a couple of years to perfect it. Khalifa, though, would not be considered a change of direction for the artist. For one, it features some of the same collaborators as the last album.
“If Wiz Khalifa is meant to be the new age Jimmy Hendrix, he has produced little to justify that accolade”
One of the single tracks from the album, ‘Most Of Us’, is not one of the greatest songs I have heard, the lyrics being very repetitive and coming across as quite lazy. The chorus is slightly grating as it seems to lack creativity, which unfortunately was one of the many things Kanye told him that he ‘should try someday’.
‘Zoney’, however, has an old-school RNB sound to it with the beat reflecting Khalifa’s first hits. His lyrics sound truthful as he raps about his life before fame and money and features his son Sebastian expressing his love for his father. This is probably one of the best songs on the album, as it seems genuine and sets itself out from the rest of Khalifa’s music as it not about just about marijuana use for once, but has heart-warming giggles from him and his son. In contrast, the track ‘Lit’ is about the rapper’s love for getting high (again). A lot of the tracks on the album do sound quite repetitive and unimaginative.
The last track on the album, ‘iSay’ featuring Juicy J, bears significance, because in the rapper’s first verse he refers to ‘KK’ being what he is smoking, and this is what caused Kanye’s twitter rant. It later became evident that Kanye was unaware of the colloquial term for cannabis and assumed that Khalifa was referring to ‘Kim Kardashian’, Kanye’s wife. The album seems to lack any distinctive tracks that are not centred purely around the theme of cannabis. I understand why the rapper has done this though as he may want to remain truthful to the origins of his music and musical influences. However, it does cause the album to feel tired.
Khalifa seems also to be a record focused on the artist’s hometown ‘Pittsburgh’ as almost every track has at least one reference to it. The single ‘Bake Sale’ (featuring Travis Scott) has done well so far on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was also ninth on the US Hot Rap Songs Billboard.
Overall, I would rate the album as just average: nothing exciting, but then again it could grow on listeners. At first play it does not grasp one’s attention or sit high in the current rap music landscape. This could be due to the LP’s weakness in a tiresome theme that the artist has been bragging about for the past few years. Nonetheless, this album might surprise us and do well with the target audience and current fans of the rapper because he is hugely open about, and encourages listeners to partake in, his cannabis lifestyle. Wiz Khalifa tweeted on the 5th of February, “My album is out. Go cop it and smoke some weed” and I am sure many of his loyal fans did exactly that.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.