Wiz Khalifa, Taylor Allderdice
Since he blew up and crossed over in 2010 with his Kush & OJ mixtape and subsequent smash “Black and Yellow,” Wiz Khalifa has been accumulating a chip on his shoulder that seems to weigh bigger than the days when we wasn't yet on. His follow up single, “Roll Up,” was deemed too pop by many hip-hop circles. His follow up mixtape, Cabin Fever, with its heavy Lex Luger touch, was a sonic deviation from previous work—and unwelcomed by some (though celebrated by others). His debut Atlantic Records album, Rolling Papers, was deemed a disappointment by many, potentally stunted by major label pandering. Now, with Taylor Allderdice, his first solo body of work in a year (he teamed with Snoop Dogg for Mac & Devin Go To High School), Wiz overlooks the haters and reverts to his signature sound.
The tape is hosted by MTV's Rob Markman—which means that there are brief clips of a conversation between Markman and Wiz at the end of each song. During the chat on “O.N.I.F.C.,” nearing the tape's midpoint, Wiz claims that, “what inspired me back then is the same shit that inspires me now.” Throughout, he proceeds to prove this.
Like he has been for years, the Rostrum rapper is still all about his weed, his women, and his homies. His insistence on sticking to this small scope of subjects surely limits the diversity of content within the project. But it's hard to fault him for riding with this method for a couple of reasons: first, he seems to truly be talking about how he lives and what he knows, and isn't that what we ask from our rappers—to just spit what is real to them from their experiences, rather than something contrived? Plus, he's damn good at it.
Both the production and Wiz's presence on record carry the release, but, like with Kush & OJ, it's the soundscapes that serve to set the tone. Infused with the signature sounds of Kush & OJ architects Cardo (“California”) and Sledgren (“Never Been Part II”), TA also benefits from the touch of I.D. Labs (“Amber Ice”), Big Jerm (“The Cruise”), Lex Luger (“The Code”), Jake One (“The Grinder”), Harry Fraud (“Blindfolds”), Spaceghostpurp (“T.A.P.”) and more. The result is a varied yet cohesive backdrop.
Young Khalifa's songwriting is as strong as ever, as he continues to pen some of the most toxically inescapable hooks and couplets around. “Mary 3x” may be 2012's best smoker's anthem, while “Never Been Part II” demonstrates an ability to creatively swicth flows and “The Grinder” is a successful attempt at a lyrical exhibition.
Stressing the importance of his team both in interview clips and on wax, Wiz makes good on the boast, bringing along Taylor Gangers Chevy Woods, Juicy J, and Lola Monroe, while also grabbing guest spots from Rick Ross and Smoke DZA. Not once though, is the tape's star upstaged by a counterpart.
It wouldn't be completely accurate to call Taylor Allderdice a Kush & OJ part two. It's more of a progression from that project, where the 2010 XXLFreshman builds on what he has already established and perfected. He again sounds completely in his comfort zone. Get ready to look back on this as the start to another big year for Wiz Khalifa. —Adam Fleischer