Coming on the heels of his commercially successful, but otherwise middling solo effort Rolling Papers, Mac & Devin Go to High School, Wiz Khalifa’s full-length collaboration with Snoop Dogg, is a relatively low stakes affair. It’s serves as the soundtrack to the duo’s still-to-be-released comedy film, but mostly it’s a chance for a young rap star to rub shoulders with an O.G. in the game – and fellow marijuana connoisseur – for an entire project.
Set against the backdrop of care-free high-school life, Mac & Devin Go to High School finds Snoop & Wiz playing younger, semi-fictionalized versions of themselves (coincidentally, their characters are also really big on weed). The ultra smooth “Talent Show” is one of the few clear-cut standouts, complete with horn stabs and Wiz’ trademark sing-song on the hook. Another winner is “Let’s Go Study,” where Jake One manages to turn what might have otherwise been pure schmaltz into an endearing record through the effectiveness of his graceful soul production.
Snoop and Wiz both deliver their raps in fluid, melodic flows, so it’s not surprising that they manage decent chemistry. It helps that both guys revel in indulging in stoner raps because the content on the album doesn’t go much further than their appreciation for cannabis. (Wiz on the high quality of his green: “Zip smelling like the whole plant’s in my coat”). Musically, they mostly work within a brightly-produced happy medium, though a couple of tracks cater to each artist’s individual style: Warren G’s Cali sun-soaked production on “I Get Lifted” is right in Snoop’s zone, while “That Good” favors the spacey synths and muted drum knocks characteristic of Wiz’ producer Cardo.
Aside from a couple of glaring missteps (the Mike Posner-assisting “French Inhale,” which descends into R&B cheese), Mac & Devin Go to High School makes for perfectly inoffensive spring driving music, though it’s probably not strong enough to replace the current soundtrack to your smoking sessions. Wiz sounds renewed here, rapping with a confident bounce in his flow – the fun of running alongside a legend palpable in his voice. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Snoop, who largely sounds half-engaged, even by his recent standards. It’s too bad, too; the perpetually easy-going nature that he’s embraced at this point in his career ought to translate nicely to playing the few-years-too-old high-school senior role. Near the end of “Talent Show,” Bishop Don Magic Juan makes an appearance to spell out the three ingredients for success: style, flash, and originality. While Mac & Devin Go to High School has enough of the first, and some of the second, the album is lacking in the third part of the formula – making it a likeable but ultimately forgettable full-length performance.
Label: Atlantic Records/Rostrum/Doggystyle | Producers: Drumma Boy, Warren G., Jake One, The Smeezingtons, I.D. Labs, Nottz, Exile, 1500 Or Nothin’, Cardo On The Beat, Jesse “Corparal” Wilson