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So Wiz Khalifa is back with his sophomore major album O.N.I.F.C. (‘Only Nigga In First Class’). Eh, too lazy to write anything more for this intro; the album had that effect on this listener.
The album features more stoned, spacey synthesizers than you can wave a joint at…or to. As it sparks off with Paperbond and continues the ‘synth-stone’ through Bluffin’, The Bluff (featuring Cam’ron), Bluffmatic, 99 Bluffballoons, Bluff & Pokey’s Excellent Card Game References…no, those last three I made up to ridicule the fact that there are two songs about ‘bluff’ within the first five tracks. The better synths continue in Got Everything and Fall Asleep (which features some excellent deep kicks), get lazy up until No Limit and continue for most of the album’s remainder.
There’s more than a handful of wondrous synth-y moments with O.N.I.F.C.’s production, enough to make you wonder if perhaps producers such as Drumma Boy, Stargate, I.D. Labs and Pharrell should have saved these beats for artists willing to do more with them; but for now, I digress. Even so, the synths sooner or later wear thin and are not particularly held together by the most original drum arrangements, yet that doesn’t take too much away from the sound of the album as a whole. Oh but wait, there’s Wiz on these tracks…
Anyone who has ever smoked weed knows that it has the power to turn you into a creative powerhouse or alternatively, make you blissfully lethargic. And Wiz, rap’s most notorious stoner since Snoop Dogg Lion, Devin the Dude or any member of Cypress Hill has fallen heavily in favour of the latter. He’s been a serviceable lyricist over time (even as far back as his 2006 collaborations with European producer Nicolay), but never a standout one by any stretch of the imagination – yours or his own seemingly limited one. At the very best, if he’s even rapping here, his voice just blends into the beat and you could hopefully waver out whatever he’s saying as there’s nothing to miss. Here, you can generalise about the subject matter, and say it’s not about much else other than smoking weed and having shit.
The album is not particularly saved by collaborative artists such as Akon, 2 Chainz or Juicy J either. The only exception is the Illangelo-produced Remember You, featuring beloved crooner The Weeknd who not only shines here but uses his falsetto to really make the track his own, resulting in Wiz feeling more like a featured artist overstaying his track time, despite it being one of his better performances on the album.
If you love a blunt or a big fat cone or that double-barrel bong that’s gettin’ you stoned, along with some fitting Hip Hop to suit the escapism you seek…then just stick to the classics, because Wiz Khalifa’s O.N.I.F.C. will only service you sonically insofar as select aspects of the production provide said suitable ambiance. His presence, however, will not; if Wiz ever had a smidgeon of humility he’s smoked it up, exhaled a Kanye-sized cloud of obnoxiousness and blanketed himself in it. Snag up an instrumental version of the album and a copy of Remember You if you want to hear the best O.N.I.F.C. offers; otherwise, buy the damn album if you ache for something to get you into the buzz just to kill it. It’s your high, or lack thereof.