“Rolling Papers” not Wiz’s best
Published: Sunday, April 17, 2011
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 14:06
Cameron Thomas, better known as, Wiz Khalifa has exploded on to the music scene in the past few years. After first being mentioned on Rolling Stone Magazine's "artist to watch" list in 2006 he has had a top 25 single with, "Say Yeah," and continued to build his fan base as he released four critically acclaimed mixtapes in two years.
In 2009 he released "Flight School," "Burn After Rolling," and "How Fly," which was released with the rapper Curren$y. Khalifa continued this run with the mixtape that most critics and fans would say is his greatest to date, "Kush and Orange Juice."
Following the release of his most critically acclaimed work to date, Khalifa released "Cabin Fever" in 2011 and announced that he would be releasing his first studio album on a major label. On March 29, 2011 the highly anticipated and appropriately titled, "Rolling Papers" was released.
Khalifa has never been known for his lyrical prowess or socially conscious subject matter, but for his laid back style and flow. After the release of "Cabin Fever" many fans complained his sound was changing to a more poppy radio-friendly sound and the mutters of "sell-out" could be heard.
"Rolling Papers" features several songs that may further the arguments of Khalifa's haters. Tracks like "No Sleep," "Roll Up" and the beyond played out "Black and Yellow" are fitting of the criticisms, but the whole album does not suffer from these tracks.
"When I'm Gone" begins the album and serves as a mission statement for the rest of the album.
After with the opening line to his critics "They say all I rap about is bitches and champagne, you would to if every night you seen the same thing." The song also features one of the cooler beats on the album which had several producers, notably Jim Jonsin, StarGate and I.D. Labs.
The album has guest appearances from Curren$y, Too $hort and Chevy Woods. Too $hort helps Wiz live up to the heaviest beat the album offers on "On My Level." "Star of the Show" is not one of the better tracks on the album, but one of Wiz's most featured rappers, Chevy Woods, ends the song with a strong verse. "Rooftops" is well polished as the chemistry between Khalifa and Curren$y is evident, but does not stand out on an album that at times becomes repetitive.
There is not a complete lack of versatility shown by Khalifa on the album, as several tracks stand out for their originality. "Get Your Shit" is a song about heartbreak that shows maybe Khalifa has more range than he is credited for as he lyrically goes deep and shows versatility that the album could have used more of. "Wake Up" is a feel good anthem that showcases Khalifa as he excels on a track typical of those he has had success with in the past.
"Hopes and Dreams" has a beat with great originality that sounds like a Kid CuDi track but is well done by Khalifa. "The Race" is a song that the mainstream will enjoy but fans of Wiz can also be happy with, as it does not differ from Khalifa's style greatly while still having mass appeal.
Tracks like "Fly Solo" and "Cameras" become lost in the albums often-repetitive sound and lack a reason for being there.
Ultimately Khalifa fans won't see this as Wiz's greatest release as he continues to try to recreate magic as he did on "Kush and Orange Juice."
One will wonder whether Khalifa can continue his career with a small repertoire of different sounds as his album began to sound repetitive. Fans will hope he will expand his sound to continue to grow as an artist rather than becoming a slave to record sales and mass appeal which has been the fate of rappers before Wiz.
Either way we can expect the same laid back flow that got him this far as he continues to leave his legacy on hip-hop.