New Music Review: Wiz Khalifa; ‘Rolling Papers’ (MUSIC VIDEO)
Wiz Khalifa arrives on the scene with the weight of hype, to say nothing of the Pittsburgh Steelers, on his shoulders. The tattooed Pittsburgh native grabbed the spotlight with the jumpy smash hit “Black and Yellow” that served as the unofficial anthem to Steeler Nation during Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl run. Lil Wayne took notice and made the Packers theme song “Green and Yellow;” so did music fanatics and rap bloggers who labeled the Steel City native as the next big thing
That’s an opening act almost too big to follow, so really, Rolling Papers is a record that’s kinda-sorta doomed from the start. In fact, the only thing that could save Wiz is if the album was really, really, really good. It isn’t. It’s not terrible either, though. It’s just crushingly average, which, when you get down to it, is almost worse.
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It’s not just the subject matter, which is the same as every other rap album out there (“All I rap about’s bitches and champagne,” he drawls on opener “When I’m Gone.” Join the club, dude). Lil Wayne raps about that stuff. The problem is Wiz himself, who, despite his scrappy attitude, comes equipped with a pretty generic flow. Occasionally, most notably on his hooks (and yes, on “Black and Yellow,”) Wiz comes to life with inventive couplets and dizzying rhymes that show his potential. But they’re few and far between, and more often than not he emerges as, essentially, a personality and little else.
Which, as it turns out, isn’t the worst thing in the world. Rolling Papers has the same underdog spirit that B.o.B.’s debut did last year, and there’s even a ballsiness reminiscent 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ back in 2003. But 50’s fire and B.o.B.’s experimentation are nowhere to be found, just an appealing guy with an impossible dream and some really talented producers backing him up.
It’s just enough to carry him through Rolling Papers’ 14 tracks (should have been two or three less songs), mainly because the couple of songs where Wiz does get inventive – the breezy “Fly Solo” and the anthemic closer “Cameras” – keep the album afloat. But otherwise he’s kind of a stylistic wet noodle. Paper, as it were, with no spark to light it.
MUSIC VIDEO: Wiz Khalifa; “Black and Yellow”:
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