Expectations shape reality. While much of pop-rap follows a familiar formula, some artists break the mold. Pittsburgh’s Wiz Khalifa was once one of them. Amassing plaque after plaque, Wiz shot up the charts to begin this decade. Though he was popular last decade as well. His reign from 2010 to 2014 was indeed noteworthy. Despite his surface-level bars, Khalifa made a name for himself by staying true to his essence. He’s a hook-singing, weed-smoking chart topper. Since his genesis, Wiz has kept it real. That is something I will always appreciate about his art. It’s simple and to the point. His endless amount of bangers is second to none. My favorite project of his has to be Cabin Fever — the first one, of course. Wiz’s third studio album Rolling Papers was my introduction to his brand of rap. Honestly, I’m a big fan of that album.
So, naturally, I looked forward to Rolling Papers 2. Although his music’s quality dipped in the last few years, Wiz deserves my attention. It wasn’t until I heard about the number of tracks on this project that I began to worry. When it comes to Wiz Khalifa, I don’t expect artistic brilliance. He’s a pop-rapper, and pop-rappers give the people what they want: repetitive party songs. I’m willing to look past all the cringeworthy lines and recycled flows so long as there are multiple hits. That’s what I expect. Because if you’re not giving me hit records, lyrical substance or cutting-edge production, why am I listening? I love pop music. I love rap music. The combination of the two, though mostly unbearable, has its moments. Wiz is in the category of tolerable acts for me. However, I must say that this album is in fact not good.
Out of 25 tracks, eight are salvageable. That’s me being generous, by the way. For your convenience, I’ll list them here: “Hot Now;” “B Ok;” “Blue Hunnids;” “Gin & Drugs;” “Something New;” “Rolling Papers 2;” “Bootsy Bellows” and “Hopeless Romantic.” Similar to Drake’s Scorpion album, this album runs for 90 painful minutes. There are about four, maybe five, active rappers who can pull off 90-minute albums. None of them would ever attempt it, though. Because, simply put, it’s a shitty idea. The only purpose for a 25-track album is stream profiteering. It is not fair to fans to have to sit through horrendous albums such as these. While rappers like Drake, Rae Sremmurd and Wiz cake up big, we must wait around for the next time they decide to care about their art. At this stage of his career Wiz Khalifa has nothing left to prove. Frankly, I’d rather hear nothing.
Albums such as Rolling Papers 2 are utterly superfluous. Who wants to hear Wiz rap the exact same way about the exact same topics for an hour and a half? I’m sure there’s a group of people who do. There always is. Yet those no-matter-what type listeners should never be the intended audience. Those kind of listeners don’t challenge an artist. They encourage and support complacency, most likely because they’re complacent. I, on the other hand, say fuck that noise. This pointless sequel album is fresh out of ideas right out of the gate. There are no hit records to speak of. Additionally, Wiz spends most of the album overshadowed by his features. Perhaps this year of underwhelming mainstream releases is getting the best of me. Who knows. Nevertheless, Rolling Papers 2 reminds us that Wiz is much too comfortable eating off the residual income of his yes-man fan base.