Release Date: Feb 5, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
Wiz Khalifa just experienced the strangest album rollout of his career. For starters, Kanye West hijacked the wind from its sails with a string of tweets insulting the Pittsburgh native on a variety of subjects including his ex-wife, his child and quality of his previous albums. These tweets stemmed from Wiz’s comments about Kanye’s new album title (at the time) and how it unrightfully bit off a piece of Max B’s legacy.
Many artists have milestone singles that mark their career, but Wiz Khalifa's are milestones like a mutha, beginning with the raw and ready "Black and Yellow," continuing on through the monied club juggernaut "We Dem Boyz," and then holding firm with the serene and sane "See You Again," his 2015 tribute to actor and friend Paul Walker. His 2016 album Khalifa continues to float upon the dreamiest of pop and alternative rap as the MC doles out life advice like "You can be your own boss, but they don't tell you that" (the aptly titled "Elevated"), but it's worth noting that "See You Again" isn't on this album's track list, so the stony "medibles" anthem "Bake Sale" is the de facto representative single. Accordingly, Khalifa the album is a collection of tracks that drift and drop wisdom, some of it cockeyed advice like "I'm watchin' Scarface, livin' all the good scenes" ("Zoney"), which ignores that Tony Montana's "Say hello to my little friend!" attitude didn't pan out as planned.
For most of Wiz Khalifa’s career, he’s been lumped into the category of "stoner rap," but the Pittsburgh native is an aggressively functional smoker, a pot enthusiast with a Steel City work ethic. His anthems have won him a dichotomous fan base: one-half living off his gigantic heartfelt singles that have nil to do with pot-smoking and the other the loyal, chest thumping Taylor Gang kids with aspirations of someday affording his KK (that’s "Khalifa Kush," Mr. West).
Will Khalifa be the Wiz Khalifa album listeners make it all the way through? Perhaps, but it won't be an especially memorable task. Even as the Pittsburgh rapper builds on the darker, trap-influenced vibe of 2014’s Blacc Hollywood, his lyrics cling to the themes that have worked for him in the past: his success and his KK (not Kim Kardashian). The familiarity allows space for occasional surprises to shine.
During a Twitter tirade in defense of Kim Kardashian — fallout from a misinterpreted tweet from Wiz Khalifa — Kanye West chucked a molotov cocktail of truth at the Taylor Gang rapper’s entire discography: “No one has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through. ” It was a pointed bit of criticism lost in a wave of misogyny and self-serving rhetoric; the Wiz Khalifa catalog is not only spotty (at best), it’s boring. It has a clear expiration date on the packaging.
Wiz Khalifa’s feud with Kanye West ended as quickly as it began. Tweets were deleted and the two superstar rappers made amends with each other, but it’s difficult to not think about a lot of what was said between the two when considering the rapper’s newest record Khalifa. The conversations that sparked from that brief beef made huge waves, even if it only lasted a few hours.