Wiz Khalifa - Rolling Papers

Album cover
Electronic, Hip-hop, Pop
Atlantic Records
Wiz Khalifa
Rolling Papers
Wiz Khalifa - Rolling Papers Review rating:
1.5
User rating:
Average: 3 (5 votes)

So apparently Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa envisions his coinage of major-label-record-#1 as "Rolling Papers" to be some far-reaching, well thought out ode to, amongst other things, his success since he began indulging his greener side via a rolled joint. While this “vision” of his may be a bit hollow the title takes on a whole different, extremely humorous connotation once you have spun the album in full and realized just how little marijuana is actually going to help. Let us not pretend like Wiz hasn't built his career on smoking anthems—the kid knows his strong-suits and six months ago it was looking like little more than his buddy Curren$y or a return of Weezy could sideline Khalifa as the king of chronic-rap. The problem is: this is not an album made for psychedelically enhanced listening sessions; Rolling Papers is in almost no ways a chill album. It is however, built and pressed for direct distribution via Top Forty radio and club speakers. Yet even as a mainstream rap record it chocks up to barely more than watered down pop-rap that makes Drake look tough as fuck. Want to know the kicker? Being high makes it even worse.

I am not sure who it was working for Atlantic that told Wiz he should continue singing or that he has any semblance of a voice but shame on them. Half of Rolling Papers' problems are directly rooted in the fact that Wiz takes over hook-control delivering a flat-as-fuck delivery that would have otherwise been serviceable had there been any shed of emotion or excitement. Instead most of his “vocal” meanderings are so auto-tuned and studio-tweaked that it rarely sounds like even the same person jumping from verse to chorus. For all the effort Wiz has seemingly put into Rolling Papers it is that much more of a shame the record is so lifeless. A once dexterous if albeit extremely raw MC, Wiz has since relegated himself to simple rhyme-structures, boring hooks and poppy-beats. Save the monumentally brooding “Star Of The Show” long gone are the woozy synth lines accenting their massive 808s posturing Wiz's syrupy flow just slightly above them. Now he is apparently all about teeny-bopper schmaltz and vague lovey-dovey coos. “Black and Yellow” may be on Rolling Papers' track list, but make no mistake nothing else on this record possess that quintessential “oomph” that had hip-hop fanatics and the blog-o-sphere alike going ape-shit.

Rolling Papers, instead, is affixed with some weird adoration for the average—Wiz delivering lack-luster lines coupled with his infectious giggle--as though your cackle makes your shitty lyrics forgivable Wiz? Juxtaposed against beats that sound more like nineties dance music and indie-pop to accentuate Khalifa's trite heart-on-sleeve moments. Or basically anytime Wiz feels so inclined to wail away—which again, happens more than it ever should have been allowed. Lead off single “Roll Up” being the biggest offender as the song totes a powder-soft, twinkly Stargate backing beat along with its ode to being some hottie's guy-on-the-side/bff; absurdly ironic coming from a man who once said: “money over bitches/nothing above it.”

Even with the albums second single “On My Level” (which along with “Black and Yellow” and “Star Of The Show” are the record's only quality tracks); which totes a menacing rumble of a beat and an absolutely killer guest spot from Too $hort still cannot define exactly what it is trying to accomplish. The song is seemingly too rough and tumble for a dance floor but a bit too giddy for an inebriated listening session. Both songs striking obvious cues to Rolling Papers two biggest issues: Wiz Khalifa cannot decide who he wants to be. Stuck between what he knows in his heart (smoking weed, fucking your girlfriend, making money) or what his bosses are telling him (remedial teenage anthems, drinking champagne and buying Ferrari’s) Furthermore wherever this record is actually going it is absolutely no fun getting there. Strange considering how much time Wiz spends talking about how hard he parties/makes money/drives fast—it is almost as if Cameron Thomaz is in the middle of his own mid-life crisis at twenty-three.

For all of Rolling Paper's short-comings it must be said that out of the last four ballsy yet still horrible rap records helmed by Atlantic in the past two years, Rolling Papers probably has been given the most attention to detail and freedom. Comparatively to B.o.B.'s The Adventures Of Bobby Ray (2010) Flo Rida's Only The Flo (Part I) (2010) and Lupe Fiasco's Lasers (2011), Khalifa's major debut comes across as the most honest—which really isn't saying much considering how synthetic the record is. But Wiz has stated he put forth an exemplary amount of effort while recording this album. To be sure that sounds like a complete over-assessment, yet unlike his label-mates Rolling Papers at least showcases a Khalifa who seems legitimately trying. Whereas B.o.B. and Lupe were under all accounts on auto-pilot and Flo pretty much has built his career on half-assing it. In turn Rolling Papers is less an artist being neutered and more a young musician just trying to find his way while defining himself amongst his peers. And in truth Wiz is a mixtape rapper, historically his albums are just weaker, which added to the mystique he was afforded from his still burgeoning talent. So what we're left with is a horrendous-to-average third record from an MC who can make a hit or two but still cannot for the life of him float an entire record. It is just sad to see Wiz selling himself so short, so soon, as Rolling Papers is pointing to little more than a quick cash-in for his label, not the career builder he was in desperate need of. Shame, really.

1. When I'm Gone
2. On My Level (Feat. Too $hort)
3. Black and Yellow
4. Roll Up
5. Hopes & Dreams
6. Wake Up
7. The Race
8. Star of the Show (Feat. Chevy Woods)
9. No Sleep
10. Get Your Shit
11. Top Floor
12. Fly Solo
13. Rooftops (Feat. Curren$y)
14. Cameras

Cameron Jibril Thomaz (born September 8, 1987 in Minot, North Dakota), better known by his stage name Wiz Khalifa, is an American rapper based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, signed to Rostrum Records. According to the Black and Yellow Songfacts, his stage name is derived from khalifa, an Arabic word meaning "successor", and wisdom, which was shortened to Wiz when Khalifa was fifteen.

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