Ashok Kondabolu, aka Dapwell, was born in Booth Memorial Hospital (now Flushing Hospital) in 1985. He plans on living on a communal farm when the world economy collapses, although he is a former member of rap group Das Racist and lives in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Photo credit: Holland Brown
When “Black and Yellow” dropped in 2010 I was vaguely aware of Wiz Khalifa for his weird name and weed-heavy subject matter. After listening to a mixtape and subsequent radio singles it became clear that Khalifa was a minimally skilled weed/party rapper with a thing for poorly singing his own hooks. This is Khalifa’s fourth studio album and his second that matters. Let’s see what the Pittsburgh rapper (recently featured on Forbes magazine’s 2012 “30 under 30” music list) did this time.
“The Intro” is a bunch of 808 drums with weird, slightly-off Beatles-esque harmonies. I suppose this sets the tone, which I’d describe as boring and irrelevant.
“Paperbond” starts off with the same white-curtain island vibe as “The Intro.” The entire song is about weed and money and clothing. Wiz talks about having more weed than he could ever smoke in his entire life. (By the time he gets to most of it, it will be stale and dried up. Somebody should teach this man about marijuana.) He says he is worried about his neighbors smelling what he’s “baking.” Probably brownies with some of that stale, dried-up weed. The song is instantly forgettable.
“Bluffin”‘ approaches six minutes, closing out with a fake, scratchy-sounding old-man sermon. If they played these songs in a bar setting and I was mid-conversation while one song was ending and the next began, I wouldn’t know the track switched over.
“Let It Go” is distinguished by an Adam Levine-like Autotune effect that Akon uses to sing his formless hook and Khalifa spitting quarter-length verses. This is the first truly painful song on the album, just offensively bad.
“The Bluff” isn’t offensively bad, although it is the second song to feature the word “bluff” but not the first to suck. Once again, it’s about smoking weed and having “so much.” (Once again, no real specifics.) The Cam’ron guest verse is a nice change of pace from Khalifa’s boring bullshit, and the long beat ride-out is a reprieve from any more terrible choruses.
“Work Hard, Play Hard” is a little better. He’s rapping a little more, which is strangely enough not a bad thing considering how boring and poorly put together this album seems to be. Production team Stargate couldn’t manufacture another “Black and Yellow” for Wiz this time, though. If the work is writing, producing and performing terrible music and the play is marrying ex-strippers, sign me up!
“Got Everything” has a generic lady r&b crooner on the hooks, which is leagues better than Wiz doing it himself, so this song is firmly in the “passable” category.
“Fall Asleep” is actually pretty awesome, as an experiment: minimal beat, the drums switch up frequently and drop out altogether for the verses. Unfortunately, it’s mostly a bore due to Khalifa’s inability to do the rapping.
“Time” starts out with more weed boasting, but he does shout out the engineer and producer, giving the listener a brief respite from having to think about Wiz’s life. He says, “Doing what I usually do, sticking to the script, no new lines.” Why would somebody talk about not doing anything new, especially when it’s so terrible and self-congratulatory?
“It’s Nothin” is another passable jam and thankfully free of Khalifa singing. There’s a brief 2 Chainz verse — it’s a shame they didn’t get their money’s worth and have him talk over the outro.
“Rise Above” is a Pharrell-produced banger that sounds like the imitation Neptunes songs that started off the album. One Pharrell verse. Sub-par Tuki Carter guest verse. Amber Rose closes out the song, repeating the same few phrases, and has a pretty cool voice. She is the stand-out talent here.
“Initiation” is a song dedicated to seemingly everybody. The Lola Monroe guest verse sounds like less-clever Nicki Minaj, and I’m not just saying that cause she’s a female rapper. She says “deeny meeny miney moe”!
“Up In It” is the Wiz Khalifa sex song. He handles his own hooks once again, to comical effect. He says he’ll recreate your favorite “love scene,” which usually lasts like two minutes and involves mostly grabbing and tearing clothes off. Wiz Khalifa will tear your clothes off for two minutes.
“No Limit” is actually a pretty pleasant uptempo punchy rap song for the first four of its eight minutes before a very long futuristic-sounding bridge unnecessarily takes us into more of the same with a different beat. Considering how terrible the album has been up to this point, this mediocrity taking its time to wind down is much appreciated.
“The Plan” is an emotionally tinged retrospective banger that’s surprisingly good, and it helps that Juicy J handles most of the choruses and the closing verse. Not a great song but good enough to be filler on another, good rap album, and that’s mostly an improvement.
“Remember You” is a slightly disjointed, the Weeknd-hooked song where the verses have seemingly little to do with the choruses.
“Medicated” with Juicy J is alright! Juicy talks about being a “member of no sleep team” and mentions Michael Phelps.
The first bonus track, “Bout Me,” features rappers Problem and IAmSu! Here, Wiz tries to actually rap — maybe the other rappers in the studio made him try a little harder? The world may never know. Either way, it’s much better than the songs on the actual album.
The second bonus track, “Stackin,” is also better than almost every other song on the album. Juicy J again? Did he get trapped in the studio?
The last bonus track, “Mary 3x,” is about weed and is a fine song to finally fall asleep to, perhaps in a fittingly deluxe manner?
Equally bad rappers like Pitbull and Flo Rida somewhat overcome (or make irrelevant) their lyrical deficiencies by making music within a narrow range (club music) for a specific audience (clubgoers). Khalifa seems to be barely trying here, pandering to his audience and whoever else with constant chatter about weed and money with little inventive songcraft or lyricism. The high point is the handful of guest verses scattered throughout the record. It’s a conventionally bad rap record for a supposedly “out there” dude.