Tag Archives: Blacc Hollywood

Review: Khalifa

khalifa album cover
via The Daily Loud

Khalifa (2016)

Wiz Khalifa

Rap / Hip-Hop

Taylor Gang / Rostrum / Atlantic


Today is the day that Kanye West’s new album, The Life of Pablo, releases to the world.  The album has been a storm of publicity, featuring everything from large-scale listening parties to Twitter rants.  Speaking of Twitter rants, Wiz Khalifa was on the other side of one of West’s social media rants which was sparked after the use of “kk” in one of Wiz Khalifa’s tweets.  It was a mess.  Maybe it benefited Wiz more than Kanye, considering Khalifa, Wiz’s sixth studio album, released around the same time as the Twitter feud, giving the album some publicity.

khalifa 1
via Rolling Stone

Khalifa, unlike Kanye’s newest project, pretty much flew under the radar in terms of publicity.  Wiz has been working on the album for a long time, releasing bits and pieces from the album here and there.  It was only a couple of weeks before the project actually dropped that we started to become aware of the album’s existence.  The lack of publicity for the album shouldn’t fool you however, as this is a solid album from the Pittsburgh rapper.

Wiz’s previous album, Blacc Hollywood, was pretty good…at least in my opinion.  The reaction was varied, with the most common critique being linked to the radio-ready pop sound that encapsulated the album.  It reflected Wiz’s career at the time, going from small-time Pittsburgh rapper to world-wide rap superstar, but a lot of people started to become fearful that Wiz was turning away from the sound that got him famous.  Luckily, Khalifa dials things back a bit and sounds more like the old Wiz Khalifa that we all fell in love with.

khalifa 2

The project gets off to a shaky start, but starts to pick up some steam with “City View,” a song that the Wiz has been working on since 2012, and “Cowboy,” a pointed song that delves into the gang violence that has taken place in the Pittsburgh streets.  There’s also “Bake Sale,” the album’s main single featuring Travis Scott.  It’s a marijuana-laced album that will make any Wiz fan feel right at home.

The album is at its strongest when we reach the last four songs (minus the actual last song) on the album, the first being “Most of Us.”  The song is a tough banger that serves as a edgier anthem for the Burgh, similar to “Black and Yellow.”  “Zoney” is the album’s most personal song, featuring the voice of Wiz and Amber Roses’ son, Sebastian.  It’s a solid song that ends with a heartwarming back-and-forth between Wiz and his son.  Sebastian mimics his dad’s famous laugh (“Do daddy’s laugh”) which gives way to one of the album’s best moments.

khalifa 3
via Zumic

“Lit” is another one of those “weed is good” songs with a nice beat, produced by guys like Dru-Tang and Big Germ.  It’s a two-part song that features two-different sounds.  The song also features Ty Dolla $ign.  It’s a classic Wiz song reminiscent of some of his past work.  Finally, the album (sort of) ends with “No Permission,” a song that he debuted last summer.  It’s another “old-school Wiz” sounding song featuring Pittsburgh’s own Chevy Woods.  The only reason why I say the album “sort of” ends with this song is because the albums actual final song, “iSay” is a bummer when matched up against the four songs that come before it.

When you talk to me about which projects rank the highest among Wiz’s work, I always point to his earlier stuff, but Khalifa is an album that feels nostalgic in a sense.  The album features production from a bunch of Pittsburgh names like Big Germ, TM88, ID Labs, and Sledgren who work to recreate some of the old-school Wiz sounds that got him famous in the first place.  The album might not compare to the rapper’s older work, but it’s the next best thing.

khalifa score

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2014 Album of the Year

It’s been a pretty good year for music.  I would have to argue that last year was probably better in terms of releases, but 2014 started to get much stronger as the year went on, especially as it was coming to a close.  There were some great albums (many that made it to the top of the list) that came out pretty late into the year.  I should  preface this by saying that my musical tastes lie in the hip-hop and pop realm.  With that being said, there were some great albums that came out, but I just wasn’t in to them.  Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran had a great year (thus their Grammy nominations).

Now, here are my top ten albums that came out this year…

10. While (1<2) – Deadmau5

2014 album of the year whileDeadmau5 has always been an innovator when it comes to electronic music.  All you have to do is follow him on social media to figure that out.  While (1<2) is no different when it comes to innovation.  There is a wide range of sounds on this one and I couldn’t stop myself from tapping to the beat on pretty much all of them.  If you are an electronic music fan, you should definitely give one of the best electronic albums of the year a listen…but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.


9. Mastermind – Rick Ross

2014 album of the year mastermindIt’s been a busy year for Rick Ross, the only artist on this list to release to albums in one year.  His second album, Hood Billionaire, was a little iffy and could have used a little more time, but I’m here to talk about his superior album of the two, Mastermind.  The album contained hits like “War Ready” featuring Jeezy and “Vein” featuring The Weeknd.  Not to mention Rick Ross teamed up with Jay Z with the song “The Devil Is A Lie”, which received a lot of critical praise.  Rick Ross is a powerhouse, and Mastermind displayed this fact brilliantly.


8. Broke With Expensive Taste – Azealia Banks

2014 album of the year brokeThis was an album that flew quietly under a lot of people’s radars.  After a long wait, Azealia Banks released Broke With Expensive Taste to quite a lot of critical praise.  Azealia Banks isn’t really a household name, but she deserves to be.  The album contained a lot of different and unique sounds that made it different from the rest.  With songs like “Chasing Time” and “Desperado”, I couldn’t get the album out of my head.  This album was probably my surprise of the year.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it delivered.


7. My Everything – Ariana Grande

2014 album of the year everythingAriana Grande has had a big year, and part of it was because of her latest release My Everything.  It’s hard to argue with the talent that the young singer has.  Her vocal range is enormous and it’s possible that she could become the next Mariah Carey.  The album contained hits like the summer sensation “Problem”, the energetic “Break Free” and the deep, yet sensual “Love Me Harder” featuring the talented The Weeknd.  There is a tone of great songs on the album, making it one of my top pop albums of the year.  (Sorry Taylor Swift)


6. The Pinkprint – Nicki Minaj

2014 album of the year pinkprintNicki Minaj is slowly turning into a feminine hip-hop powerhouse.  She also had a fantastic year, topped by the release of The Pinkprint, which features the strongest Nicki Minaj yet.  The album contains so many different genres, all in one complete package.  There’s some rap that hearkens back to her earlier days, pop, and even some R&B.  Some of my favorites included “Pills N Potions”, “The Crying Game”, “Only”, “Feeling Myself”, and “The Night Is Still Young.”  Any Nicki Minaj fan should find something that they like on the album.


5. The Inevitable End – Royksopp

2014 album of the year inevitable endThis is another album that people might not have heard about when it was released back in November.  The Norwegian electronic duo Royksopp put out The Inevitable End with the plan to stop making music.  They might be taking a break, or they might be done for good.  Either way, I thought that the album was a fitting conclusion to their career.  You could tell that there was a sad tone throughout the album, but it also had some warm feelings as well.  They also collaborated with pop star Robyn for songs like “Do It Again” and “Monument”.  The album also ended with the simply titled “Thank You”, which was a strong finish.


4. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea

2014 album of the year new classicIggy Azalea took the hip-hop world by the horns.  Her first album The New Classic, contained a plethora of hits that propelled her to the top of her game.  “Work”, “Change Your Life”, “Fancy” and “Black Widow” were all songs that put her in the spotlight of the hip-hop industry.  She has also faced equal amounts of backlash and attacks from fellow rappers, but I thought that she has handled herself pretty well despite the things she has gone through.  The album was a strong first impression, and I can only imagine the type of hits she will come out with in the coming years.


3. Shady XV – Eminem & Shady Records

2014 album of the year shadyThe king of controversy is back again with the aptly named Shady XV.  Eminem has built his record label Shady Records into a formidalbe empire in the hip-hop industry.  The album came in two parts, the first being some of the new stuff from the record label, including songs like Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” and the Detroit fight songs “Detroit Vs Everybody”.  The second part of the album went back in time, reviewing some of the classics that have come from the label.  There was a ton of stuff featured in the package, and it was hard to be disapointed with the final product.  Eminem continues to be one of the best rappers out there.


2. Blacc Hollywood – Wiz Khalifa

2014 album of the year hollywoodWiz Khalifa has had a tough year due to his break-up with long time wife Amber Rose.  However, when Wiz Khalifa goes and looks back on his year, Blacc Hollywood will probably make everything okay.  Wiz’s fifth studio album was supported to the top of the hip-hop charts with songs like “We Dem Boyz”, “KK”, and the pleasant sounding “Staying Out All Night.”  There was a lot more depth to the album than Wiz’s previous projects, making it just a joy to listen to.  Some people didn’t like it as much, but I thought there was a ton to like about the album.


1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

2014 album of the year jcole

Finally, we have the recently released 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the third studio album by rapper J. Cole.  In my review, I stated that the album was more than just an album, but instead, a story.  J. Cole took us on a journey through his life, beginning in is childhood years and went till the current day J. Cole.  He had some revelations throughout the album and decided to act upon those revelations by the end.  It was amazing to see the progression of the rapper from being young, reckless, and famous to being the wise and talented artist that he is today.  J. Cole isn’t the household rapper that he should be.  If you are a fan of hip-hop at all, make sure to give his latest piece of work a listen, you wont regret it.  It’s fitting that the album has “2014” in it’s name, because it was by far my favorite of the year.

2015 Grammy Awards Predictions

The lists are out and the nominees have been announced!  There looks to be a lot of tough races in some of the categories.  It’s going to be interesting once it all goes down on February 8th.  Now, it’s time for me to make my semi-educational guesses as to who will take home the big awards…

RECORD OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 1

-“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charlie XCX

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift (WINNER)

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

This was one of the tougher categories to choose.  The favorites are probably “Fancy”, “Shake It Off”, and “All About That Bass”.  However, I think Taylor Swift will be the lucky lady that takes home the award.

ALBUM OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 2

Morning Phase by Beck

Beyonce by Beyonce

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith  (WINNER)

Girl by Pharrell Williams

This was probably the toughest category for me to choose.  All of the albums that were nominated have an extremely likely chance of getting the award, however I thought that Sam Smith had a hell of a year and his album might sit well with the board of judges.   I guess we will have to wait and see.

SONG OF THE YEAR

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift  (WINNER)

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Take Me To Church” by Hozier

“Shake It Off” was the song that got in your head every time you listened to it, no matter if you liked Taylor Swift or not.  It’s a catchy tune that served as one of the standout tracks on her album 1989.  I am going to go ahead and say that the award will be in Taylor Swift’s hands by the end of the night.

BEST NEW ARTISTgrammy 2014 3

-Iggy Azalea  (WINNER)

-Bastille

-Brandy Clark

-Haim

-Sam Smith

Iggy Azalea has had a busy year.  She’s been on many hit singles and she has put out a hit album as well.  She also has come under a ton of fire from some of her hip-hop superiors.  Don’t forget about her night at the American Music Awards as well, where she took home all the awards for the hip-hop category.  She has handled herself really well through all of this, and that is why I think she is the best new artist of the year.  However, Sam Smith would make a good choice as well.

And now for some of the other categories that interest me…

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUMgrammy 2014 4

Ghost Stories by Coldplay

Bangerz by Miley Cyrus

My Everything by Ariana Grande

Prism by Katy Perry  (WINNER)

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUMgrammy 2014 5

Syro by Aphex Twin

While (1>2) by Deadmau5  (WINNER)

Nabuma Rubberband by Little Dragon

Do It Again by Royksopp & Robyn

Damage Control by Mat Zo

BEST R&B PERFORMANCEgrammy 2014 6

-“Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z  (WINNER)

-“New Flame” by Chris Brown feat. Usher & Rick Ross

-“It’s Your World” by Jennifer Hudson feat. R. Kelly

-“Like This” by Ledisi

-“Good Kisser” by Usher

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUMgrammy 2014 7

Sail Out by Jhene Aiko

Beyonce by Beyonce  (WINNER)

X by Chris Brown

Mali Is… by Mali Music

Girl by Pharrell Williams

BEST RAP SONGgrammy 2014 8

-“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

-“Bound 2” by Kanye West

-“I” by Kendrick Lamar  (WINNER)

-“We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa

-“0 to 100/The Catch Up” by Drake

BEST RAP ALBUM??????????????????????????????????

The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Because The Internet by Childish Gambino

-Nobody’s Smiling by Common

The Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem  (WINNER)

Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q

Blacc Hollywood by Wiz Khalifa

*Side Note: This category should be interesting given all of the controversy and words that have been exchanged between Iggy and Eminem.

With that, my predictions have been made for the big categories as well as the categories that interest me the most.  Now we will have to wait till February 8th to see whether or not I was right about these choices, or a complete idiot.  Probably the latter, but I like to think that I am better than that.

 

 

Review: Blacc Hollywood

blacc hollywoodLet me tell you about a place called Blacc Hollywood.  It’s a place reserved for the rich and famous.  The successful.  You can almost consider it a lifestyle.  Let me also tell you about a rapper named Wiz Khalifa.  He embodies the Blacc Hollywood mantra.  He’s the man that runs the town.

Blacc Hollywood, Wiz Khalifa’s fifth studio album, has a ton to like.  There is a little bit for everyone this time around.  There’s something for those who liked Trap Wiz, Wiz’s last mixtape, and there’s something for the people who are familiar with the old, ganja-smoking Wiz.  It seems that Wiz has formulated all that is old and new and put it into one style that is unique to just Wiz Khalifa himself.

Anyway, lets get to the music shall we.  The album features the likes of Ty Dollar $ign, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, and much more.  They all offer great back up to Wiz, especially Taylor Gang’s own Chevy Woods.  In fact, I see a lot of potential for Chevy Woods.  He has a lot of talent and him and Wiz work pretty well together.

“We Dem Boyz” can probably be summed up as the anthem and the theme song for the album.  This can be a good and bad thing though.  It has a catchy beat but the song gets repetitive after a while.  I actually prefer the remix that is featured later on in the album.  It includes the likes of Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q, and Nas and it slows down the original song for a pretty cool sounding remix.  It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album.

However, it’s songs like “Promises” and “Stayin Out All Night” that really showcase the artistic skills of Wiz.  He provides the vocals that really make those songs hum.  They sound great and they offer something more diversified.  On the other hand, songs like “Ass Drop” and “True Colors” are the club bangers that have some great beats, but that’s about it.

We see the lifestyle that Wiz is living through songs like “The Sleaze” and “Raw”.  He and his crew, the Taylor Gang have made it and they aren’t afraid to brag about it.  They’re living the life of Blacc Hollywood.  As for the fans of old Wiz, there’s still those marijuana-infused songs throughout like “So High” and “Kk”.  Wiz can’t live without those greens.  That’s something that hasn’t changed.

Blacc Hollywood is impressive.  I started listening to it with the mindset that it was going to be sub-par; that Wiz didn’t really have it in him.  I was proved wrong, and I am glad that I was.  I also started to notice something as I was listening through.  I got the impression that perhaps Wiz has gotten some inspiration from Snoop Dogg in his life.  He does in fact appear on the album anyway.  It wouldn’t surprise me, because I believe that one day, Wiz might just become the next Snoop Dogg…and that’s a good thing.