I’m sure many of you guys have heard the song “Black and Yellow” playing on MTV or the radio. Its catchy chorus which simply repeats the words “Black” and “Yellow” four times just gets to you. For those of you who haven’t heard of Wiz Khalifa until “Black and Yellow”, let me give you a brief introduction on this charismatic young man.
Cameron Jibril Thomaz, 23, got the name Wiz Khalifa from his Muslim granddaddy. The word Khalifa in Arabic means “successor” while Wiz simply refers to him being good at everything he does.
His debut album Show and Prove in 2006 showcases tracks like “All In My Blood (Pittsburgh Sound)”, “I Choose You” and “Too Late”. Such songs reveal Wiz Khalifa’s essence in rapping – raw, fierce and passionate. In this album, he talks about his entrance into the music industry and other stuff like how he is determined to maintain his originality. His sophomore album Deal Or No Deal in 2009 features tracks like “Superstar”, “Goodbye” and “This Plane”. Songs on this album are catchy, more upbeat and exhibits Khalifa’s ability to provide range in his music.
Rolling Papers, recently released on March 29 2011, is Khalifa’s most chillaxed and natural-sounding album to date. Rappers in this era have to constantly improve themselves in order to stand out from the rest. With home names like Lil’ Wayne and Busta Rhymes, it is important for young and rising rappers to differentiate themselves so that they will not phase out. Fortunately for Khalifa, his charisma and charm are an added bonus to his melodic tunes.
Track #1: When I’m Gone – An excellent introduction to the album I must say. I don’t know about you but I think that every album should have a solid intro which sets the mood for the entire record. When I’m Gone probably talks about Khalifa’s breakaway from Warner Bros. Music. Although he sings about not waiting for another day to spend his paper, I think that the song has a slightly deeper meaning to it. The phrase “I’ma take all this money I own and blow it all away cause I can’t take it when I’m gone, gone, gone, gone”. This probably suggests that he doesn’t want kachings to define both his life and death. Both the first and second verse also hints at him being tired of misconceptions while being with Warner Bros.
Track #3: Black & Yellow – I bet you thought that this song was about bumblebees or Lamborghinis. Khalifa, being born in Pittsburgh, raps about his hometown’s football team, which adorns the colours Black and Yellow. This song is extremely addictive therefore I’m not surprised that this track is the first release.
Track #4: Roll Up – Probably my most favourite song from the album. Yes, I’m a sucker for sweet songs okay, even if they come in the form of rap. Another addictive song, released soon after Black & Yellow. Almost everyone I know, including my mum, is hooked onto the chorus of this song. Check out the music video for this track. It features the sweet-faced Cassie!
Track #12: Fly Solo – Catchy and a little ska-sounding; a good break-up song for people who’ve gone through a bad relationship and looking for freedom. This is another song to sing along to when you’re cruising along the highway and flying solo. If you’re still sore and looking for more songs to soothe your heartache, take a listen to a very bold-sounding track #10 – Get Your Shit.
Track #13: Rooftops (Ft. Curren$y) – Just one of those songs talking about how hard work gets you chicks and money. Well, there is some depth to this song actually. Khalifa and Curren$y team up to rap about how they’ve never been noticed or acknowledged until all their hard work pays off and they eventually get to the top. I’m liking the emphasis on hard work getting to the rooftops, overlooking everyone else!
This album serves songs worthy of head-bopping and arm-flailing. But if you’ve been a fan of Wiz Khalifa since way back when his songs consisted more hardcore-rapping, you might be in for a little disappointment.
Rolling Papers definitely has less rapping and doesn’t showcase his rapping range like his previous albums. Maybe this is just Khalifa’s preferred way of sound, but I’m sure many fans will agree that Khalifa’s rapping range is much broader than just easy melody and sluggish lyrics. Since Khalifa stated that he wanted this album to be more relaxed and natural-sounding, we should have expected him to do less rapping and more singing.
Indeed, this album is the catchiest to date but somehow Khalifa’s rawness and passion just got lost among all that auto-tuning. Overall, I’m pleased with this record but well, I guess I just miss Khalifa being all hardcore and gangsta. Khalifa is still one of my most favourite rappers nonetheless due to his unpretentiousness and originality. Kudos to him for breaking away from Warner Bros. to carry out his own thing. I’ll take this album with an open mind and consider this to be a sort of “breather” re-debut for Khalifa.
It is his first major label album after all!