Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers

written by: April 6, 2011
Release Date: March 29, 2011


Wiz Khalifa is nothing new to Hip-Hop: sipping Rosé, flossing his muscle car, smoking out and then sleeping with your girlfriend. But if he does bring something to the table it’s his ability to quickly create a persona for himself. Thanks largely to the ubiquitous single “Black and Yellow,” the 23-year-old is immediately recognizable by the quiff that looks like it got struck by lightning, his square-frame shades, his near-full-body ink job and the swirled graphic that bears his name.

But the artist that Source named Rookie of the Year 2010 still has a lot to prove.

Let’s just say Rolling Papers is Khalifa doing what he loves, best enjoyed while, hm, rolling papers. If his lyrics don’t convince you he was high when he made this, his raspy-ass giggle will. The album is a slow, smooth and mellow cruise; sometimes with wide-open production (“The Race”), gangster rap (“On My Level”) and even bubblegum guitar (“Fly Solo”). The Wiz kid is part of that school in rap, practiced by Drake and Cudi, where even his verse is almost sung. Lucky for him this school happens to be the mode of Billboard.

Khalifa’s social media success is the first sign he might be an information age hero, but he’s also helped a lot by the fact that his production style is free of region. We’re just coming out of an era in Hip Hop where “where” is everything.

Khalifa, who was born in North Dakota, raised in Germany, England, Japan and some place called Pittsburgh, just wants to make music, merging styles as it pleases him.

He alternately smears and enunciates words, stretching and chopping them to his liking. On “Roll Up,” he intones something like, “You wannaridewitme cos you say that he boring/Wakeup, you rollin’ weed, cookin’ eggs in the morning.” So, while his actual voice is dynamic, his flow is tired. Accuse him of pandering to the pop charts—don’t think he doesn’t know it. “They say all I rap about bitches and champagne/You would too if e’ry night you seen the same thing” are the first words of the album. Clearly Wiz’s got something to prove about his street cred.

It’s likely that fans will expect more of where his last mixtape Kush and Orange Juice left off. Regrettably, that’s not what happened. While Kush and Orange Juice was available free and quickly top-trended on Twitter, Rolling Papers is on Atlantic Records and isn’t nearly the same end product—formulaic, catchy and melodious. If he truly is amazed by how quickly he blew up, “I always knew I’d be this good/ But never knew I’d be this good,” (“Cameras”) he doesn’t let us hear the end of it. The skit at the end of “The Race” is neither funny, nor an introduction to “Star of the Show,” it sounds like an impromptu one-take, he did on the phone with his friend.

Rolling Papers goes around in circles, it’s that classic pitfall where at some point you’re like, “Didn’t I just hear that song?” but his biggest talent is mobilizing people behind him, which, if you’re creating a brand, is crucial. “Black and Yellow” we’ve heard, now “No Sleep” is on the charts and it probably won’t stop there.

Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers Tracklist:

  1. “When I’m Gone”
  2. “On My Level”
  3. “Black and Yellow”
  4. “Roll Up”
  5. “Hope & Dreams”
  6. “Wake Up”
  7. “The Race”
  8. “Star of the Show”
  9. “No Sleep”
  10. “Get Your Shit”
  11. “Top Floor”
  12. “Fly Solo”
  13. “Rooftops”
  14. “Cameras”