Wiz Khalifa treads familiar ground with “Taylor Allderdice”.
There's a certain dilemma rappers face when they finally break out of the underground, releasing mixtape after mixtape (which provides them with no financial compensation): how do you expand your newfound fanbase without neglecting the loyal supporters who were there with you from the beginning? Such was the problem that graced Pittsburgh stoner Wiz Khalifa, whose 2010 mixtape Kush N Orange Juice brought him to a whole new level in hip hop – the mainstream – and that was before he even released the Billboard topping “Black N Yellow.”
As a result of his newly acquired mainstream status, Wiz fans felt deceived by the new direction he was heading in with his studio debut for Atlantic, Rolling Papers. Though the album provided some of his most accessible records (“The Race,” “Star Of The Show”), it ultimately lead fans and critics alike to deem it “pop-rap.” It seemed that the weed-obsessed rapper had sold out.
Now, a full year after his debut, not to mention a collaborative LP with fellow pot enthusiast Snoop Dogg, Wiz is back with what he's claimed is a return to the underground, an endowment to those who felt betrayed by him, with a free mixtape named after his high school, Taylor Allderdice. Obviously, he's not trying to be subtle here; this is a return to his roots.
The content on Taylor Allderdice is far from surprising – which in some critics opinions may be the album's biggest woe – having to do with weed, smoking weed, rolling weed, and smoking weed. Did we mention that all ready? Mind you, this isn't necessarily a problem, as much as it is redundant and excessive. Wiz hasn't changed much since before his fame; now he just mentions his model wife-to-be Amber Rose (who sings the chorus on “Never Been Pt II”), and the fact that now he just happens to be filthy fucking rich. Alongside Wiz's financial success, he's also able to afford rappers outside Chevy Woods and Smoke DZA: Juicy J (who has literally been everywhere recently, from producing for Hodgy beats to appearing on a track with A-Trak and Danny Brown) appears thrice, and so does Rick Ross.
The beat selection here is diverse and it sounds tight; there's a Deadmau5 sample on “O.N.I.F.C.,” A$AP affiliate Spaceghostpurrp furnishes customary cloud rap with “T.A.P.,” Lex Luger rolls in with another tear-shit-down anthem. But like any musician whose found success and fame, the stakes are higher now, the criticisms harsher, and the expectations greater. Despite the beats, the lyrical content is also going to be analyzed. As such, when it comes down to it, Taylor Allderdice is just another rap album to get stoned to. Yes, it is neither a fully enjoyable listen, nor is it a “bad” album; songs like “Nameless” and “Blindfolds” likely to be heard blasted via Cadillac speakers this summer.
Having said that, in a contemporary hip hop scene that includes trailblazers like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky, Taylor more or less keeps in stride with what we've come to expect. Rapping about weed is great and all, and fans will definitely cherish and promote this tape, but being a musician in the public eye also merits growth and innovation. Taylor Allderdice may be a return to his mixtape days, before “Black N Yellow,” before he became pop-rap, and as this was obviously Wiz's aspiration, he has indeed triumphed. It's just not a game-changer. Again, that's fine and all, and Taylor is not an unimpressive record by any means. Just for anyone who first put on Section 80 and thought, damn this is a new stage in rap music; don't expect the same thoughts to wash over you when you listen to Taylor Allderdice. Not to say that this is at all what Wiz Khalifa was striving for, and that is totally acceptable.
If you haven't already, cop it here.