On his third studio album,Wiz Khalifahas recorded a collection of potential radio singles that offer little cohesion, but plenty of reasons to have a good time.
Wiz Khalifa is to music what Doug Benson is to comedy; and by that I mean they’re both a variation of Cheech and Chong for a new generation. They've all managed to make careers out of embracing their love of marijuana. As long as they continue to carry the torch of weed, and all the things it can do to improve life for those who know how to manage their high, there will be people who want to support their efforts. It’s a growing profitable niche to dominate if you can, and to his credit Wiz has managed to hold his throne in the face of many young new comers thinking a single smoking anthem would change the game.
Blacc Hollywood picks up the adventures of Wiz where the 28 Grams mixtape left off, and that is a place that finds the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native fathering his first child while simultaneously finding himself at an all-time high in his career (pun intended). This fits well with Khalifa’s long-standing tradition of celebrating life through music, but in many ways it also causes the album to feel more like a collection of songs than a complete album. That’s not to say his songwriting has dipped; in fact, there are several instances on the album (“House In The Hills,” “Stayin Out All Night”) where Wiz offers his strongest lyrical content in years. The mix of wanting to be a hard working responsible parent (“No Gain”) while simultaneously promoting things like hip-hop’s rampant problem with misogyny (“Ass Drop”) makes for a well-produced soundtrack that fits no occasion at all. It’s not in-depth enough to feel like an intimate conversation with Wiz, but the hype tracks don’t come often enough to make it a radio record. You could say it’s a bit of everything, but not in the way you might hope.
There are brilliant moments on Blacc Hollywood, as well as plenty of new smoker anthems – ultimately it’s these moments that make an argument for returning to Khalifa’s latest. “True Colors,” a quasi-ballad with Nicki Minaj, joins “House In The Hills” as the two songs that offer a glimpse at what the next evolution of Wiz Khalifa might sound like. Both offer a side of the rapper that has rarely made its way to tape in the past. Minaj certainly helps “Colors” as well, but unlike many appearances she does not steal the show.
For the weed crowd, promotional singles “KK” and “We Dem Boys,” as well as the smoking-n-driving track “Raw,” should provide ample Saturday night jam sessions for the coming weeks. “So High” seems like an obvious title as well, but truth be told, it’s a bit more melancholy than some may expect. It’s one of those late night, “Day And Night” type lonely smoker tracks. That’s not a bad thing per se, but you won’t want to put it on your next party mix.
The biggest problem with Blacc Hollywood is that it appears to arrive at a point when Wiz Khalifa is in the midst of a personal evolution. There is a side of him that feels more reflective on past troubles than before that also seems to be working towards a better future for his family. That maturity is caught in a battle with the idea of who Wiz Khalifa believes himself to be as an artist. Up to this point, the majority of his material was about smoking weed, getting laid, and having a good time. He’s at a different place in life now, and as a result he’s got several new topics on his mind that he wishes to express through his music. When those moments occur, Blacc Hollywoodshines. The radio singles and party still work too, but it’s clear Khalifa is beginning to reach a new point in his creativity that is far more intriguing than the club scene and it’s hard to not wish there was more of it to be found on this record.