Different Wiz Khalifa album, same story. Blacc Hollywood is confused about what kind of album it wants to be, and it leaves us feeling the same way.
We all know the story with Wiz and his albums, it's a tale as old as time. He goes super, extra hard on his mixtapes to shut up the critics who talked bad about his albums, only to make some of the same mistakes on the next album. It's a vicious cycle, that we're only escaping gradually, in baby steps. Rolling Papers was what the label wanted Wiz to be, and he acknowledged and atoned for that to his fans (you can read the letter here). But all wounds were healed when he came right back with Cabin Fever 2 and Taylor Allderdice, showing everyone he could put together a full project of A-level material. On his next turn at the retail market, we got ONIFC, which was a vast improvement over the previous album. It felt more like music Wiz of yesteryear would make, yet still felt like he was trying to satisfy his core fans while also dominating radio. Again, some were disappointed, yet far fewer than before. No matter how you feel about 28 Grams, it was something we haven't seen from Khalifa in a long time, in that it was a clear concept, carried out consistently throughout the entire project. He knew what he wanted to make and made it. He didn't have one or two songs that appealed to each group of fans, trying to cover everyone. That brings us to Blacc Hollywood, which came out today. We'll be reviewing the deluxe version, which has 15 tracks.
The album starts with an introspective spoken word intro from OG Taylor Gang member Chevy Woods before heading into the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted "Hope". The track is very good, as these two have quickly become one of the best duos in the game, their styles playing against the other's perfectly. From there we go straight into the hit single "We Dem Boyz", which has excelled on the Hip-Hop/R&B charts for a while. The song is a clear reflection of today's predominant style in the genre with a twist of Wiz, and it's pretty good, though the remix took it to the next level. The next two songs on the album are "Promises" and "KK", which brings us to the questionable tracklist placement. Wiz, or whoever placed all the songs, had a clear intent to alternate the "turn-up" tracks and the softer, melodic ones. It's a constant theme throughout the album, and feels like its main downfall. As a whole, the album doesn't feel cohesive, or even finished for that matter. It feels like they gave us 15 random new songs, threw it on shuffle, and called it a day. When listening to an album, it should have some sort of flow, or at least have the slower tracks placed strategically and bookended with interludes, so you don't feel like you're on a roller coaster the entire time. "KK" was weak, with a forced-feeling feature from Juicy J, and an inexplicable one from Project Pat, who Wiz must have owed a favor.
Most Wiz fans will have high hopes for "House in the Hills" featuring frequent collaborator Curren$y, and the song is decent, but doesn't even come close to most of their previous joint efforts. The Spitta feature feels like maybe it was added last minute, and it shows. If Wiz wanted him on the album, there were other songs that would've been a better fit. That was another problem with the album, the feature placement on some songs was a little strange. For example, Nicki Minaj appears on "True Colors", which is a mediocre effort from both artists, when she would have made "Ass Drop" a certified smash. It's the type of instrumental she absolutely kills, and it just felt like a natural fit for her. "The Sleaze" seems like an attempt to start a new buzz word, and while Khalifa's flow on the track is impressive, the song isn't great by any means. "So High" is actually really good, one of the highlights of the album for sure. It finds the perfect amount of melody, which most of the other songs on the project couldn't achieve.
Another issue here is the production on the album. It feels second rate, all the way through, very basic. There wasn't many layers to these songs, and we're not talking a Rick Rubin-style Yeezus stripdown, but rather just a poor selection. People who don't purchase the deluxe version of the album won't get to hear arguably the two best beats on the entire project, "We Dem Boyz Part 2" and the DJ Mustard-produced "You and Your Friends" which also features Tha Doggfather Snoop.
If Wiz had kept the slower, melodic section together as an almost intermission from turning up in the middle, as well as swapped "We Dem Boyz" out for the remix, the album would have felt more complete. While we've said a lot of negative things about the album, it's worth a listen, and surely most of his core fans will really like it. Where it falls short is that it lacks the cohesion and polish that an artist with his experience and pedigree should have on their commercial albums. It remains puzzling why his mixtape efforts and retail releases differ so greatly, not just in quality, but consistency as well. We had high hopes for Blacc Hollywood, and while it's passable, it doesn't stack up to other albums we've heard this year from artists of his caliber. Luckily, his track record speaks for itself, and that means we'll get 1 or 2 fire mixtapes in the next year or so until another album drops.