I remember when I was in high school and Wiz Khalifa released his first mixtape Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania. I shared in the excitement that so many from Pittsburgh had. While there are many talented, famous musicians from Pittsburgh, we didn’t have a rapper. We thought “finally!” when we heard his mixtapes. However, that was over seven years ago. Now that he is a national figure, many believe that he has become just another rapper who raps about money and weed in most of his music. His new album O.N.I.F.C. does nothing to disprove that.
The first tracks “Paperbond” and “Bluffin’” are about just this. You’ve heard a million songs like them – you know, those songs about how much money he has and how all the other rappers don’t really have the kind of money that they say they do. Is this your kind of song? Good news! There is another just like it called…. “The Bluff.” This is better purely for the novelty of hearing Cam’ron, who has a pretty good verse.
A more notable track on the album is the single, “Work Hard, Play Hard.” To me, this is the kind of lowest common denominator song that sells just well enough but leaves no wonder why there hasn’t been a rap album to sell over a million copies this year.
Now for the highlights. “Let It Go” stands as a stark contrast to every other song on the album. It’s sort of a cheesy motivational song with Akon on the hook, but there’s something about it that’s fun and upbeat. My favourite track on the album is “Rise Above.” This stands above (I’m so clever) the rest of the album with an old-school beat and Pharrell on the guest list. This is certainly worth a download if you’re just in the mood for a good chill song.
Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: the album art. I don’t know if he’s serious or if it’s a joke. To be honest, it’s so outrageous that I cannot help but love it. It’s completely different from any other album art you’ll see on the shelves – for better, or for worse. I’d love to hear opinions in the comments.
O.N.I.F.C. has a common problem: there is a severe lack of inspiration and innovation. It is something that you’ve heard before and many times, and yes, that does mean there is a song with 2 Chainz on it. Frankly, this is very surprising to me. Not a week ago I listened to Wiz’s Burn After Rolling mixtape, and I still very much enjoy it. While the album shares so much in common with countless rap albums released now-a-days, it isn’t horrible. If anything this is a very lazy effort, especially if you listen to some of the production. The beat in “Initiation” is the kind of generic beat you hear in most mixtapes.
I still remember seeing Wiz in Pittsburgh just after he released Flight School. It was a great concert, but things like this stand as a reminder of how the quality of his music has decreased over the years. This album was his shot at redemption after the disappointment that was Rolling Papers and he didn’t take it. The day Wiz Khalifa decides to go back to his roots is the day he’ll make great music again.