It's hard to spot a Taylor when you see one, mostly because Wiz Khalifa's beloved Gang members place a premium on individuality and frown at conformity.
When the Pittsburgh spitter first broke into mainstream consciousness in 2010 with his ink-covered body, camo shorts and Chuck Taylor sneakers, he was unlike any rapper we had seen, and now that the game has clearly caught on, Wiz Khalifa chose to upgrade on his newest LP, O.N.I.F.C., out Tuesday (December 4).
"My bad, ain't paid the cost/ See, they just watch me, then copy my swag, say I fell off," Khalifa raps on the ID Labs-produced "Paperbond."
Khalifa not only heard the criticisms surrounding his 2011 major-label debut, Rolling Papers, he's addressed them head-on with O.N.I.F.C. Critics complained about RP's pop-friendly selections, so Khalifa enlisted Taylor Gang production veterans like Cardo ("Intro") and Sledgren ("Initiation") to balance out his latest sonic trip.
Plenty of passengers board Only N---a in First Class, as 2 Chainz, the Weeknd, Cam'ron, Pharrell Williams and Akon all show up for the ride. Still, Wiz makes it clear who the captain of the ship is. On "The Bluff," Killa Cam floats on a mellow groove that's more Kush & Orange Juice than "Dipset Anthem."
"Rise Above" not only features contributions from Pharrell, Wiz also properly introduces his new TG artist Tuki Carter and his future wife Amber Rose, who raps a few bars toward the end. Khalifa even goes as far as to dedicate a few tracks to his hunny on the X-rated "Up in It" and the 1990s R&B-inspired "Got Everything." On the latter, he professes his love for Rose as stylistically as he professes his love for marijuana. "And I swear you deserve a wedding ring/ Can't ever see you choosing nothin' over or instead of me," he raps.
It's new ground for Khalifa, who in his younger days, openly celebrated his free-wheeling lifestyle on tracks like 2009's "Ms. Rightfernow" from his Flight School mixtape or "The Thrill" from Burn After Rolling.
Overall, O.N.I.F.C. plays like the mixtapes that fans have come to know Wiz for. Tracks like the smoothed-out "Time" and percussion-driven "Bluffin' " could have easily fit on Taylor Allderdice, the critically acclaimed free project he dropped earlier this year.
By the time Khalifa hits the runway on the album-closing "Medicated," he proves that he is best at being an individual, flying solo — in first class of course.
What is your favorite track from Wiz Khalifa's O.N.I.F.C.? Let us know in the comments!