Inconsistency prevents "Blacc Hollywood" from greatness, but for better or worse, Wiz Khalifa's latest sounds like a project from someone with nothing to prove.
For the most part, the significance of third albums has changed drastically. On the second album, an artist combats the dreaded “sophomore jinx,” but the third album is when the artists cements themselves in the game, or proves that the “sophomore jinx” was no jinx after all, and they simply don’t belong. While Blacc Hollywood Is considered Wiz Khalifa’s third proper, studio album, (previous projects such as Deal Or No Deal were retail) with several album quality mixtapes under his belt, Wiz is far past proving he belongs. For better and worse, Blacc Hollywood sounds like a project from someone who has nothing to prove.
Wiz Khalifa can’t be tied down to one specific sound. From Kush & Orange Juice, to Cabin Fever, back to earlier projects like Show And Prove, Wiz has tried different flows, showcased different content, and employed different soundscapes. While most artists claim the same, the range Wiz covers outstretches most. Blacc Hollywood is like a celebration of all Wiz’s different sounds. Wiz most recent mixtape 28 Grams had a similar feel, but when condensed down from 28 tracks, Blacc Hollywood reduces the redundancies and gives off more of a focused feel.
Blacc Hollywood isn’t without its flaws. Immediately after the albums strongest cut “House In The Hills,” there are consecutive duds in “Ass Drop” and “Raw.” As its title implies, the former is an ass anthem, which finds Wiz on the chorus demanding, “Do it for a real nigga, do it for a boss. Do something for a boss, do something for a real nigga.” The instrumental is lively and bass heavy, and the choice to punctuate it with sped up vocal samples is an innovative one. But the simplified, repetitive lyrics are borderline laughable and reduce Wiz Khalifa to a somewhat of a bit player on his own song. The latter, with its darker, keyboard-powered soundscape, intense bass and steady call-and-response incorporation of the song title casts it as a leftover version of “Taylor Gang” from Wiz’s now three-year-old project, Cabin Fever.
“House In The Hills” is by far the strongest track on Blacc Hollywood, and possibly one of Wiz’s more poignant cuts ever. Not only a solid track, but also timely, Wiz raps about the labeling not only faced by himself, but others like him offering, “They try to hold us back paint a picture of us and sell it straight to the public, you young black then you thuggin’ / What they don’t talk about, the kid who came from nothing / Who stuck to what he believed in and turned himself into something… great / They should use that story to motivate / But instead they rather focus on the fact he’s a pot head / Not the fact there’s not a lot where I live, 25 and not dead…”
Blacc Hollywood has a little bit of everything from Khalifa: a strong club banger reminiscent of his breakout single “Black And Yellow” (“We Dem Boyz”), serious cuts like “House In The Hills” and “No Gain,” and several songs to smoke to. While the misses hold Blacc Hollywood back from being great, Wiz still reminds listeners that regardless of what they’re looking for, he’s capable of providing.