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Over the 5 year period since first appearing on the scene, Wiz’s style has evolved from a naked-fleshed, anorexic cloak-wearing rapper to a heavily tattooed, anorexic chart-topping rapper/singer, with a marijuana misdemeanor. He might not be ‘real hip-hop’, and he might not hold up banks and shoot pregnant ladies, but we need to accept that trends and tastes are never permanent – in twenty years, my adopted Haitian kids will probably find my music as tedious as I find my Dad’s. Plus, it’s not like your copy of Ready To Die is going to sink into a black hole. So embrace Wiz Khalifa, because whatever he’s grown, spitted, genetically modified, shat, or inked, the kids fucking love it. And I don’t mind it either.
I remember first hearing Wiz — the first line that caught my ear was his challenge to my masculine dominance:
My mum hated that line.
It was Christmas Eve of last year, and she and my brother were in the front of the car. We were heading north to my Grandpa’s house in Barnet (North London baby), which would have been festive, if he wasn’t Jewish.
Anyway, I was playing my brother some of the new hip-hop I’d been listening
to from 2010, and frankly Wiz should consider it quite an honour that he was
included. Although ten years older than me, my brother and I have remarkably
similar taste in music. When he was my age, Biggie was buried, and Nas had
managed to force out three underwhelming post-Illmatic albums. But good rap
still existed, and you didn’t have to scratch much under the surface to find it.
Supreme Clientele, The Cold Vein, The Blueprint, Labor Days and Like Water For
Chocolate — five of my favourite albums — would all have been released between
his 16th and 17th birthday. Between my 16th and 17th birthday, there was a
pretty good album from Big Boi, with a ludicrous title, but let’s face it, we all wanted André. There was an album by Freeway I liked; Kanye did an admirably
pretentious job with his, Eminem’s effort made me want to etch “CUNT” on the
back of my Slim Shady LP disc, and Drake polluted my facebook feed with his
self-important whining in the same way a disheartened adolescent pollutes the bin underneath his desk with wank tissues.
A decade ago, the “Khalifa of rap”, (Hamad-Al) Khalifa was the finely-moustached (and probably corrupt) King of Bahrain (no libel).
This year (Wiz) Khalifa is one twitter-trending album away from being crowned king of the hip hop game. Although his new album is no Kush & OJ, it is a pussy-getter through-and-through. Wiz has his mixtapes for the fellas and his albums for the dancefloor — simple as that. (Only his transcendent anthem Black and Yellow defies gender classification..)
WIZ: Although breaking down your date/spliff metaphors was not particularly challenging, we thank you for trying to change the ladies' attitude towards marijuana-smokers!
Those that are quick to judge Wiz need to remember: this isn’t Biggie’s crown that Wiz is inheriting, ’94 style. Mastering the masses in 2011’s climate is not just about squeezing gats, fucking madd bitches
(in other niggas’ cribs), wrestling with baseball bat blunts and being able to
beat motherfuckers like Ike beat Tina
The Internet has added a whole new dimension, for better or worse. Equally important today is how many teenage sluts there are quoting your lyrics in their facebook status’, the amount of undergrads posting pictures of you on their individually generic blog pages, and being able to obtain thousands of views on apparently banal videos of yourself rolling spliffs (NOT blunts) in hot-tubs on YouTube. I mean, is that shit really
interesting? If so, then Rap Genius HQ deserves its own reality TV show..
“Here’s the thing” though: Wiz seems to make it so, just like Big
would have. I don’t know what it is that makes him appealing to reasonable
human beings like me as well as the rest of you “True Taylors”. He doesn’t have
the Tyrese Gibson good looks (well neither did Big), he’s got the body of a nine
year old with a sugar allergy (opposite to Big) and on the beat he doesn’t flow
nearly as comfortably as his Pittsburgh pal Mac Miller (I won’t even bother bringing Big into this one). So what the fuck is it? Why does Wiz’s latest single having been watched 363636 times more than Raekwon’s just bother me quite a lot, rather than absolutely infuriate me?
Wiz raps, sings and kind of mumbles/hums, a bit like Kid Cudi, but less annoying
and sentimental. His transitions between singing and rapping are elegant in their effortlessness, (something Eminem should probably take note of) like a Frenchman in a mackintosh overcoat, alternating between croissant and coffee in a quaint Parisian café. His odd flows and irregular rhyme schemes paradoxically feel refined and graceful, reflected by his delicate, European preference of rolling papers to blunts. Although, truth be told, it’s possible that he’s so lifted he is able seamlessly float between different forms, flows and rhymes without blinking a scarlet red eye. Mixtape rap, pop rap — it’s all the same to Wiz as long as he can rap it while blazed!
Interestingly, Wiz didn’t quiet the weed down one bit for his “radio raps”. He keeps it apparent that he loves the sticky green stuff, and always keeps
one rolled. This isn’t great news for your impressionable fourteen-year-old daughter, because Wiz also knows exactly how to make a smash hit, so the chances are that she already knows about kush & orange juice meals. Bitches love Wiz, ‘cos he’s “fucking with their best friends” — and also because they envy his skinniness. A fruit juice fuelled orgie, if you will.
Despite truly rising to prominence in 2010 with a well-received Internet
mixtape, by modern standards — where kids with ripped copies of Fruity Loops, illegally downloaded Just Blaze instrumental ZIP files, and YouTube accounts call themselves artists — Wiz is a veteran. Rolling papers is his debut on a label; in fact, it will be his third album. Show & Prove was released almost 4 and a half years ago, but was commercially unsuccessful, barely reaching 10000 sales, and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? came out 3 years later, going five times harder than its predecessor.
When will the beautifully blended concoction known as Kush & Orange Juice — a mixtape which emphatically barged #embarrassingsentimentalbullshit off the number one spot on the trending topics list on Twitter — come back around to the fore? When Atlantic Records turns off the money-spigot, that’s when.
Keep gettin money Wizzy, Rap Genius ain’t mad. We even had our teenage girl friends decode your album:
We’ve also explained several of his good songs — peruse on the Wiz Khalifa artist page