The word “evolution” is generally considered a good thing when it comes to a variety of things; animals, plants, and yes, music. When people speak of a certain artist evolving musically, this is usually said with positivity, leaving unsuspecting people under the assumption that evolving is always a good thing. With that being said, after the release of Wiz Khalifa’s fifth studio album Blacc Hollywood , it is fair to say that the Pittsburgh native has, in fact, evolved. Unfortunately, it seems that this evolution is not for the better.
Blacc Hollywood is an album whose themes of fast life, women, and drugs are all too common in this current age of hip-hop. Piggy backing off of the formula he used on his 28 Grams mixtape released earlier this year under the “Trap Wiz” persona, the album begins with “Hope”, a hedonistic, pulsing anthem featuring 2014 XXL Freshman Ty Dolla $ign. Here, Wiz implores the listener: “Hope you got thousands in your pocket/Cause she ain’t lookin for love”. The party continues on the next track, the album’s lead single, and summer anthem, “We Dem Boyz.” As one continues to thumb down each and every track on Blacc Hollywood, it is clear to see that Wiz has decided to rest on his laurels, vying for commercial success as opposed to pushing the envelope creatively.
Lyrically, Blacc Hollywood provides what Wiz has been known to do over the course of of his illustrious career; straightforward, to the point, bars. Wiz has never been known to be one to leave anyone questioning what point he is trying to get across in his music. Whether it be Wiz’s tepid, repetitive hooks, or gimmicky lines such as “this year I’m goin’ insane/Mental disease”, the lyrics on this album are more of the same.
With all that being said, Blacc Hollywood does have it’s high points. Tracks such “Houses In The Hills”, a smooth cut where Wiz reminisces on what it took for him to get where he is today, featuring a verse from Curren$y, and “Still Down”, both do a great job of letting the listener know he still hasn’t forgotten where he came from. The “We Dem Boyz” remix featuring jazzier production and verses from Rick Ross, ScHoolboy Q, and Nas is a fun treat for any hip-hop fan, and the DJ Mustard produced bonus track “You And Your Friends” featuring Snoop Dogg and Ty Dolla $ign is a very fun way to end the album. Features from Nicki Minaj, Juicy J, and other help bolster the album’s lengthy list of superstar features.
Blacc Hollywood finds Wiz at an interesting point in his career. His superstardom in the game is unquestioned, his cult like following mostly unparalleled, and his personal life seems to be one that every man would die to have. It would seem that he has everything one could dream of. Though many die-hard fans would argue that Wiz has still “got it”, when comparing Blacc Hollywood to his past albums and mixtapes, it seems that he has flatlined as it pertains to his content. One can wonder how long his formula can last. Whether or not Wiz has any tricks up his sleeve for the future as far as his progressing as an artist is concerned, it remains to be seen. Blacc Hollywood is by no means a home run, but it gets the job done in holding fans over.—Marvin Jules