Album Review – Wiz Khalifa: Blacc Hollywood

Someone needs to convince Wiz Khalifa to stop smoking

… if only so he’ll have something else to talk about for an album. He doesn’t venture too deep into “one trick pony” territory, but he is definitely an artist who has found his lane and is more than comfortable staying in it. On his fifth studio release, Blacc Hollywood, the Pittsburgh MC has no qualms with rhyming about enjoying the spoils of his labor, which consists of weed and partying. Problem is, when the reason for your success has been rapping about weed and partying, it doesn’t resonate as spoils and more like par for the course.

Many have made the claim that Jay-Z, at this point in his career, comes off as lazy in his songs. His prowess so effortless at this point, it lacks impact. In short, he makes great rap seem easy. On the complete other side of that spectrum is Khalifa, who makes lazy rap seem like advanced calculus. On Blacc Hollywood, he floats back and forth between knowing he isn’t technically gifted and then trying his damndest to convince us otherwise. There are several times throughout the album where he tries to cram as many words into a bar as possible (no matter how clunky and cumbersome it comes off) erasing any semblance of a flow in the process. The clearest example is “House In The Hills” where Wiz teeters on running out of breath several times trying to make a point. Although, you don’t go to Wiz Khalifa for lyrical exercise, you go to the Taylor Gang leader for the hip-hop equivalent of fast food; good for what it is, and lacking in anything substantial. Blacc Hollywood offers that for the most part, but every now and again he dips into the “personal growth” motif that comes off like a McDonald’s salad. You’re not fooling me Wiz.

Blacc Hollywood is at its best when Wiz is being Wiz, asking girls how they got that ass in them pants on “Ass Drop,” bragging about spending a modest tuition on weed on “KK,” and connecting completely unrelated lines together just because he feels like it. It has all the flavors of that dude you went to high school with who could kind of rap, but made up for lack of skill with pure charisma and fun. It’s why Khalifa draws so many parallels to Snoop Dogg (who has a feature on a bonus track). They’re both laidback, who made their bones being the chilliest guy at the party. The problem is, Snoop was heralded as one of the best young rappers of his time, and only started to phone it in once he became the patron saint of purple haze. Wiz has only ever been the latter.

After five albums, you should know what to expect from Blacc Hollywood. While it has moments where Khalifa raps about being boxed into an archetype, his next songs all prove why that mold exists in the first place. It has baseline, enjoyable moments such as “Stayin Out All Night” but much like the lyrics tell you, don’t bother committing Blacc Hollywood to memory.

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