The Score: Wiz Khalifa, "Rolling Papers"

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 12:40PM

Written by J. Bachelor

Buy Now
  • Rolling Papers
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • March 29, 2011
Hip Hop DX 3/5
DJ Booth 3.5/5
Soul Culture 4.5/5
All Music 4.5/5
Entertainment Weekly 8.5/10

Fresh on the shelves today is Rolling Papers, the latest release from Mary Jane enthusiast and Taylor Gang spokesman Wiz Khalifa.

Newer fans may be surprised to learn that Papers marks the third studio release from Khalifa, who catapulted into the mainstream after his 2010 Pittsburgh anthem "Black and Yellow" became a nationwide hit.

With Rolling Papers, Wiz drops his third studio album in the wake of the success of "Black and Yellow," following the Rostrum Records released albums Show and Prove (2006), and Deal or No Deal (2009), as well as a string of acclaimed mixtapes, from this year's Cabin Fever, to his 2005 debut Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania. Having covered Rolling Stone, Complex magazine, DUB magazine, and myriad more, the mainstream has dubbed Young Khalifa the name in the game, so with his highly anticipated album standing on the peak of a recently built alp of hype, expectations couldn't be higher. (Ology)

Khalifa's frequent collaborators, Taylor Gang associates E Dan and Big Jerm as well as the Norwegian production team Stargate, rolled up to the studio to create tracks for the album.

While longtime collaborators E Dan and Big Jerm still make their contributions, a majority of the production on Rolling Papers seems like a failed attempt for more Top 40 radio play. Experiments like the Loose Ends sample on "The Kid Frankie" from Kush x OJ are ditched for songs like "Roll Up." If the hollow basslines and heavy use of synthesizers seem better suited for an R&B singer, it's probably because Stargate's production works best with their usual clientele of Rihanna and Ne-Yo not Wiz Khalifa.(Hip Hop DX)

Collaborations from artists like Too Short and newcomer Curren$y helped make Rolling Papers a joint effort.

With the US release date of Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers in sight this month, Amazon have announced what seems to be the album's official tracklist. Consisting of a mere 14 tracks, the album (according to Amazon) only features three collaborations, West Coast Hip Hop veteran Too Short ("On My Level"), Taylor Gang recording artist Chevy Woods ("Star Of The Show") and his with frequent collaborator Curren$y ("Rooftops") - without any feature listed from Snoop Dogg. Which is slightly strange as Wiz stated in a few recent interviews, including the Rolling Stones cover shoot, that the LP would in fact feature a guest verse from the West Coast hip-hop legend.(Soul Culture)

Recently, Wiz expressed his excitement over the success of his then mega-smash single, "Black and Yellow".

"I'm definitely excited about 'Black and Yellow' reaching [no.] 14 on the charts," Wiz said in an interview. "Just even that is just great. When I put it out, I was thinking it's gonna be more of like a set-up record, but now that it's going up, hopefully it reaches its full potential. Wherever that is, or wherever that lands it, we'll see it there...The response to 'Black and Yellow' made me wanna work with [production duo] Stargate more, or just experience more with getting in the studio with different producers and trying to come up with something from scratch how we did." (BET )

While some critics felt Papers was a fun album that hits its mark, others wonder if Khalifa's limited range has anything to offer listeners who have long outgrown the stoned age.

Lyric wise, Wiz does drift into luxury rap land on many songs rhyming about women, money and bottle poppin'. In the least, he is aware of this. The first lines of his album are, "They say all I rap about is b*tches and champagne. You would too if every night you seen the same thing." Luckily he finds a medium and raps about relationships, his climb to the top as well as his current fast paced lifestyle. Overall, Rolling Papers ranks high above average. His mainstream debut translates much of his unique style from past music projects. Old and new fans will definitely be pleased.(Hip Hip Ruckus)
This album definitely has more lows than highs. It's not terrible; it's just mediocre, and it doesn't live up to the success of the critically acclaimed mixtape Kush & Orange Juice. In addition, the album suffers because Wiz experiments with pop friendly tracks that aren't befitting to his style. Another single "Roll Up", for example, treads beach boy territory. "Get Your Sh*t" is relatable, but it sounds like a male rendition of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" and it doesn't quite live up to the hilarious "If I Were a Lame" featured on the Burn After Rolling mixtape. Moreover, tracks like the carefree, acoustic driven "Fly Solo" sounds B.o.B-esque and it's not a taylored/tailored fit for Wiz's style. If you're someone who thought "Black and Yellow" was Wiz Khalifa's first single and wasn't cognizant of his prior work, you'll probably pop this in the whip for a week or two before getting bored with it. However, for the Taylor Gang diehards, this album will leave you cotton mouthed and that insatiable "munchy" sensation that seems irreplaceable. My advice: when grabbing Rolling Papers, exhale slow.(iHip Hop)

To purchase Rolling Papers, just click here.

Preview the album below:

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