It’s February of 2011. Wiz Khalifa, experiencing all sorts of mainstream success thanks to “Black And Yellow,” drops Cabin Fever, seemingly out of nowhere. The mixtape is a complete throwback to when Wiz was welcoming everybody to Pistolvania, more “Youngin On His Grind” than Kush & OJ. One month later, we hear Rolling Papers, and it just doesn’t compare. Cabin Fever is better. A lot better.
Fast-forward a year – Wiz admits that Papers was kind of garbage, promising to do right by his fans with his next album. He proceeds to drop a new mixtape, Taylor Allderdice, a month after those comments were made. It wasn’t his best work, but the mixtape would prove to be superior than O.N.I.F.C., which was as uninspired as the face Wiz was making on the cover.
And now, we have official word of Wiz’s next mixtape, 28 Grams. MTV broke the news during an interview with Khalifa, who didn’t give an exact release date, but noted that “It’s gonna drop fast. You should go home… It’s more than a teaser, it’s gonna get the Khalifa train rolling.”
The mixtape will precede Blacc Hollywood, which also doesn’t have a proper release date, but does have an annoying single getting decent rotation.
With the mixtape Wiz continues to utilize the “one for my fans, one for Atlantic” technique to a comedically predictable extent. We didn’t need anybody to tell us that Hollywood will probably stink; recent history and “We Dem Boyz” indicated as much. But his last two album release cycles tell me that Grams is a little more significant than B-side material.
Should we be mad at Wiz, or just accept the fact that we might never hear another Kush & OJ? As a fan, it’s hard not to be frustrated in the lack of good material, especially given Wiz’s insane 2008-2011 run. But then we can’t just act like that hot streak never happened, and that Wiz didn’t grind his ass off, and that a lot of us don’t have hours of quality, free music from the guy in our hard drive.
Therefore, we can’t get mad at Wiz for selling out; if there’s a “right way” to make it in rap, Wiz definitely did it, grinding for years to turn his grassroots movement into something much, much bigger. But his newfound success has come with some notably worse material, to the point where I’m never really anticipating a new project so much as I’m just aware that there will be one. And we don’t know if 28 Grams is a preemptive apology, but history is hard to ignore.
I hope I’m wrong.