Will Khalifa be the Wiz Khalifa album listeners make it all the way through? Perhaps, but it won’t be an especially memorable task. Even as the Pittsburgh rapper builds on the darker, trap-influenced vibe of 2014’s Blacc Hollywood, his lyrics cling to the themes that have worked for him in the past: his success and his KK (not Kim Kardashian).
The familiarity allows space for occasional surprises to shine. The “Wild Wild West” vibes of “Cowboy” turn a repetitive hook into the album’s most effectively catchy moment. Single “Bake Sale,” featuring Travis Scott, is another standout – though its trap-carnival beats make it feel more like a Scott B-side than a Khalifa original.
Khalifa has always been at his most compelling when he turns earnest, and his transformation into a lil stoner Stevie Wonder on the funky torch song “Call Waiting” has its charm. On “Zoney,” the most Rolling Papers moment of the album, his young son Sebastian offers up the best guest spot of the collection when he giggles with his daddy, repeats Khalifa’s words (“Taylor Gang!”) and does his best imitation of the rapper’s goofy laugh.
Between these oddball moments, though, Khalifa mostly circles the drain of clichés and love letters to his favorite activity: smoking weed. It’s only when he lets himself get a little weird, and flexes underused strengths like his singing voice, that his music is as fun as he wants it to be.