9:00AM ET December 8th, 2012
Contributor: Todd Williams
A Rocky Williform Company
Wiz Khalifa doesn’t want to be limited to his “stoner rap” reputation, but on his sophomore album O.N.I.F.C. (Only N***a In First Class for those curious) he references weed about 378 times and the entire album sounds so bong-friendly, your eyes will probably be red by the fourth track. When you name your first album Rolling Papers, and buddy up with Snoop Dogg, you’re gonna have to try a little harder to shake the pothead reputation. And despite the album’s introspective-sounding title, this isn’t really a rumination on fame. At least not in any way that hasn’t been done before.
Benefitting from a dreamy production from I.D. Labs, the opener “Paperbond” does exactly what you want it to do—set the tone for the remainder of the album. Wiz raps about his newfound success and reveals how out-of-place he still sometimes feels. But, as with most rappers, his insecurity is filtered through the lens of outsider bravado.
The pulsating “Bluffin” is a certified banger, with Wiz bragging about his wealth and clowning anonymous haters with “They don’t move that fast. They act like they don’t like cheese. Had a couple n***as mad like they don’t like me. Is it cuz I’m hella paid, I think it might be.” Not new territory by a longshot, but the production masks the bevy of hip hop clichés in the lyrics. The similarly-titled “The Bluff” features a winning Cam’ron cameo, and Wiz raps about being the “same n***a,” and “smelling like money and champagne.”
Notice a pattern?
“Got Everything” features Wiz spitting rapid-fire verses and breaks the somewhat monotonous flow of the first half of the album, a welcome change of pace for an album that can feel astoundingly repetitive. With the Courtney Noelle-sung hook, it’s an obvious choice for a single. Another album highlight is “Rise Above,” yet another ode to haters, this time with an assist from Pharrell Williams, up-and-comer Tuki Carter and a fairly irrelevant appearance by Wiz’s fiancée, Amber Rose.
But by the time you get to “Fall Asleep,” with Wiz aggressively yelling that “I got a crib so fat that you’ll get lost in that bitch, I got a car so fast that if I push one button—you wouldn’t see nuthin,” it becomes painfully obvious that he only has a few subjects on his mind—and none of them are that original or unique. Rapping about money is as old as rapping itself, and Wiz doesn’t really bring anything new to the table or reveal some distinct perspective that you wouldn’t hear in a million other rappers.
O.N.I.F.C. is a tepid follow-up that shows Wiz has grown some since 2011’s Rolling Papers, but it suffers under an endless string of references to haters and money. He sounds a little too satisfied with himself; and though the production is always listenable, its sometimes indistinct. And with such limited subject matter, it can make for a frustratingly limited listen. Nonetheless, Wiz has crafted a good-sounding album that plays well—and that says a lot in the skip-ahead 2010s. Just don't pay too much attention to the fact that he only seems to care about those three things: haters, pot and his money. He may not like his music being referred to as ‘stoner rap,’ but with soundscapes as hazy as this, (not to mention numerous audio clips of Wiz toking up) its hard to see why you would refer to it as anything else?