Review Summary: Forget all about Rolling Papers, this is Cabin Fever.
Over the past 3 or so years, Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa has risen to the top of the current mainstream hip-hop scene. Being from Pittsburgh myself, I've heard plenty about this guy even before he made it as big as he has these days. During his first few years in the game Wiz Khalifa had a much more underground and way less "poppy" sound, with songs such as Pittsburgh Sound which featured no auto-tune or sung choruses or anything like that. Nowadays, Wiz has fully embraced the mainstream and all of the things I mentioned, and he's not looking back. His major label debut, Rolling Papers
was underwhelming to say the least. It had a few standout tracks such as On My Level, Get Your ***, and the biggest hits Black and Yellow and Roll Up, but other than that it was pretty much just plenty of filler.
The first thing that makes this mixtape a lot better than Rolling Papers
is the fact that it's not overly mainstream sounding. This album embraces plenty of the hardcore rap sounds that Wiz first started out with as well as some of what we've gotten from him over the past year. The beats, provided by Lex Luger, are by far the most important aspect to this mixtape. The whole album is full of so-called "club bangers," such as GangBang and Taylor Gang among others, as well as some slower and more mellow songs like Phone Numbers and the title track. All of the production is so smooth and listener friendly it'll make you wanna listen to this mixtape over and over again.
Lyrically Wiz has never been very impressive and this won't change anyone's mind about that. He keeps rapping about his favorite topics which are first and foremost, smoking weed, as well as Taylor Gang, money and girls. Nothing too spectacular, but thankfully he has a very good flow and his voice is very listenable and almost calm, but not in a lazy sense. Also, if you're from Pittsburgh you can easily tell he's from the same area just based on his accent. As usual for Wiz, all of the choruses are very catchy, mainly the choruses to GangBang, Hustlin', and Homicide. Wiz isn't a horrible lyricist though. He has some pretty damn good lines on the mixtape such as in WTF when he spits, "Smokin' loud the *** you smoke ain't sayin' nothin'," as well as in GangBang with lines such as, "I'm jumpin' in my Coupe, I'm rollin' something that taste like fruit and I hear them niggas talkin' ***, but there's nothin' much that they can do," and "My bitch bad, my money through the roof, your money short you lookin' sad you Danny Bonoduce bitch." Obviously he's not all bad as a lyricist.
There are a few guest spots as well from artists including Big Sean, Juicy J, Trae the Truth, and fellow Taylor Gang member Chevy Woods. The most impressive guest spot and maybe the best verse on the whole mixtape is by Big Sean on GangBang, He has a very similar voice to Wiz, being very easy going, calm, and smooth spitting off lines such as, "Money in my hand, I don't need no handouts, and they all got they hands up, cause they *** with me hands down. And my car got more tent than a campground, and my picture is always on your bitch background." That's just two lines, his whole verse is fire. Chevy Woods is also a good contrast to Wiz, with his more deep and gritty voice on Taylor Gang, Middle of You, and Homicide.
The main point I'm trying to make here is that judging Wiz Khalifa just based on Rolling Papers
is completely unfair. This man is much more talented than he's made out to be, and Cabin Fever
proves it, as well as a lot of his pre-mainstream works. The best thing about this mixtape, as I mentioned, is the fact that it mixes both his old and new style for a perfect balance. Even if Wiz isn't an amazing lyricist, his able to make catchy hooks and choruses mixed with Lex Luger's beats and some really good guest appearances make this mixtape very worth it.