Wiz Khalifa has made a name for himself in the pop-rap community with his stoner persona and a limited but catchy lexicon that produced hit singles like “Black and Yellow” and “No Sleep.” With his new record, “Blacc Hollywood,” however, the routine is beginning to sound dated. Other than having a polished production, auto-tuned vocals and a fair list of featured artists, Khalifa is the exact same boastful, blunt-rolling slacker, and the rap world seems to be moving on without him.
After nearly 20 years of recording and producing chart-topping records, hip-hop artists Kanye West and Jay-Z have managed to stay relevant through bizarre collaborations and an ever-changing musical direction. Yet after only 10 years making albums, Wiz Khalifa seems to have burned out. His auto-tuned vocals, which seem cut and pasted into the album to make it more interesting, instead sound flat and bored, and don’t add any notable variance to the repetitive verses.
If Wiz’s 2012 album “O.N.I.F.C” was considered a redundant misstep by websites like Pitchfork, then “Blacc Hollywood” is its halfhearted copycat attempt, with uninspired lyrics about being a rich stoner and not much else. In “So High,” for instance, he raps, “Heard you got a cheaper price for that reefer huh/ What you need, never find a seed uh huh.” The lyrics never get much deeper throughout the album, and even the emotional end of things remains shallow in songs like “No Gain,” which is about balancing his weed habit with spending time with his wife and kids. However, when placed alongside his boastful tunes like “We Dem Boyz,” it may be hard for listeners to believe the rapper is struggling with any major life issues, making his more introspective songs not so hard-hitting.
The album’s production may be its only saving grace, with samples and beats finally big enough to fit Wiz’s ego. Orchestral swells and analog synths play far better in “Blacc Hollywood” than some of the rapper’s previous works, but is unfortunately joined in most songs by an obnoxiously old-school flat beat, making it feel as if he is making a cheap and rushed seventh-grade mixtape.
Despite a solid production and a handful of well-directed music videos, Wiz Khalifa’s overall lack of creative ambition will leave “Blacc Hollywood” as nothing more than a collection of party anthems. Ultimately, these tracks may be put aside once party season is over, forgotten by music listeners craving an album with depth.