Wiz Khalifa
Kush & Orange Juice

Beats: XL
Lyrics: L
Originality: XL

Pittsburgh product Wiz Khalifa has steadily secured a cult-like following over the last few years by creating mixtapes filled with songs about making money, snatching up females and, of course, burning through infinite amounts of weed. But on his latest effort, Kush & Orange Juice, the Taylor Gang general gets higher than ever before by showing off an increased sense of confidence and charisma on the microphone.

As an artist, Khalifa has found his voice on K&OJ. He sounds in complete control over the catchy flutes on “The Statement” as he spits about waiting patiently for success. “Know we belong on the top but we ain’t trippin’,” he raps on the hook. “’Cause we’ll get there in a minute.” He uses a catchy, sped-up hook to help him rap about rolling doobies up in his ride on the melodic “In The Cut.” He even utilizes a sample of the Loose Ends’ 1985 song, “Hangin’ On A String (Contemplating),” on “The Kid Frankie” to rap about balling, touring and blowing trees along the way. It’s not exactly groundbreaking material, but Khalifa manages to package it in a way that makes it sound like it is.

About the only thing that blows Khalifa’s buzz is that he spends so much time rapping about weed that tracks like “Spotlight,” featuring Killa Kyleon, and the pop-friendly “We’re Done” end up getting lost in the smoke. From “Still Blazin” to “Good Dank” to “Supply,” he spends the majority of K&OJ alienating anyone who doesn’t share his love for Mary Jane. But it’s hard to blame him for using what works.

By sticking to this formula, Khalifa uses K&OJ to deliver the ultimate high for both his fans and his career. —Chris Yuscavage