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, 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.
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.
“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.