wiz-khalifa-blacc-hollywood-coverWiz Khalifa – Blacc Hollywood
Taylor Gang/Atlantic Records; 2014
Day & A Dream Rating: 2.5 out of 5
BUY: iTunes | Amazon

When he wants to, Wiz Khalifa can pen something rather memorable. His hazy evolution from every man stoner to loaded cloud rap space eater has taken listeners from hearing him over pop melodies from Stargate to drum heavy gothic trap flips from I.D. Labs and back again. Khalifa netted an actual breakthrough with the one/two punch that was 2010’s Kush & OJ and his first major anthem, the Pittsburgh city paean “Black & Yellow” but on consecutive albums, the saccharine dripped Rolling Papers and sleepy O.N.I.F.C., he didn’t find himself in an actual moment of comfort.

Blacc Hollywood, his third disc has already made its own little history by becoming the first Khalifa retail full length to land at #1. It’s also melodic like Rolling Papers and sticks in the air with a thick waft of cloud smokes and quips about living good and smoking even better. He’s traded in bits of his mixtape flair on Cabin Fever and 28 Grams and tried to blend it with sumptuous production. For a while, tinkering those ideas to fit on Blacc Hollywood work. Yet, like most of Khalifa’s outings post Kush & OJ or even Cabin Fever, it feels like a bit of the same.

The album has its immediate fan favorite with the wound-up and snazzy “We Dem Boys” produced by Detail. It also represents one of the lone times nothing about Blacc Hollywood feels forced. “KK” displays Wiz next to Memphis rap legends Project Pat and Juicy J to discuss Afghan strains of weed and “Raw”, with its thunderous 808s lets Gucci Mane play in his own sandbox for a little while. Those moments allow the guests to take center stage while Wiz saunters a bit to the background, lighting up and hazily being aware that something else is going on.

Khalifa has never been one to up the base in his voice, always operating on a slithering wisp that makes him feel glossy-eyed at all times. He slinks into sex symbol territory on “Incense”, letting his rock star persona move around in Auto-Tuned warbles that felt far more natural when he pulled the trick off on “Up”. There’s few moments when Blacc Hollywood takes its cue to be daring and risky and when they do, they get packed near the end of the album, left as bonus cut filler material.

As long as Wiz continues to embark on a path of being a smoked out rocker trapped inside of a skinny, inked up rap kid’s body, Blacc Hollywood will be a representation of success. It may feel bland, mediocre in moments but offer lines and questions that offer zero commitment to anything actual (“The Sleaze”, “Hope”). Khalifa can deliver his own pontificated messages of do-it-yourself but in the end, he’s a certified pop rapper with qualities that show their positives and negatives far too often. It’s a shame a West Coast bounce moment like “You And Your Friends” with Ty Dolla $ign may be forgotten but if not for the frat boy eternal yelps of “Hol up, hol up!”, not anything from Blacc Hollywood will be fairly memorable.