Mixtape Review: Wiz Khalifa, 28 Grams

Mixtape Review: Wiz Khalifa, 28 Grams

The Taylor Gang general keeps it mellow with his precursor to Blacc Hollywood.

Published May 27, 2014

Last week, when Wiz Khalifa announced he would be releasing a mixtape during his performance at the Hangout Festival, he said it would be dropping fast.

The Taylor Gang rhymer-in-chief lived up to his word, releasing the 28-track precursor to his forthcoming album Blacc Hollywood, which is set to come out later this year. The mixtape (aptly titled 28 Grams) dropped the same day (May 25) that Wiz was arrested at a Texas airport for marijuana possession.

Fans of Wiz's earlier mixtapes like Taylor Allderdice and Cabin Fever 2 will find this one similar in rhyme patterns and subject matter but reaching further from a production standpoint.

For those worried that the family life might slow down hip hop's Vincent Chase, think again. 28 Grams starts out with an ode to the former profession of Wiz's current partner, Amber Rose: stripping.

"I want one, I want two/One for me, one for you/When we hot ain't no telling what we do/Nowhere to go, no one to know/Keeping it private so nobody know/Doing your thing when you slide down that pole/Give you a drink you get out of control," the gregarious rhymer raps.

If his rhymes are any indication of how he lives, Wiz still loves to have a good time. Songs like the Metro Boomin'/808 Mafia-produced "Let'R," "The Last" and the imported car anthem "Foreign" serve as a reminder that the "Black and Yellow" MC still enjoys life's finer moments and possessions.

Of course, it wouldn't be Wiz Khalifa if he didn't rap about weed, and while 28 Grams showed the slender rapper's range, songs like the synth-heavy "Incense," the throwback beat of "The Rain" and "On the Way" (once again produced by Metro Boomin') feature Wiz in thar same element that helped catapult him to the forefront of hip hop. On "Pure," the rapper even gets his Snoop Lion on, spitting and singing with an island dialect.

Wiz keeps the production mostly original but also shows that he could flip someone else's hit into his own on tracks like "Maan," a ganja-infused take on ScHoolboy Q's "Man of the Year;" the Berner-assisted "Up Down," á la T-Pain; and "OG Bobby Taylor," another stoner-driven song based on "OG Bobby Johnson." 

Collaborations have always served as a showcase of Wiz's ability to adapt his style like a chameleon to mesh with whomever is on the track with him, and on 28 Grams that holds true. On "Banger," Wiz teams up with fellow Taylor Gang artist Ty Dolla $ign over Sonny Digital's piano-driven beat. Wiz goes back and forth with Ty about the rules to the game with rhymes like, "All I know is ride out for your gang/All I know is make them hoes clone joints/All I know is keep your n----s on point/All I know is have my money on time/All I know is grind, lil n---a, grind."

Perhaps the high point of the mixtape comes with another one of his label mates, Juicy J, on "Word on the Town." The song, which is produced by J and also features a verse from the late Pimp C, shows that even though it isn't his style per se, Wiz can rock that classic Triple Six sound with no flaws.

While 28 Grams shows flashes of versatility, it lacks any kind of consistency. Mellow tracks are often followed by bass-heavy bangers and vice versa, with no real segue to sonically bridge the gap. Wiz also could have done without so much Auto-Tune, which is featured on roughly half of the 28 songs in mostly the same way that has been inundating hip hop airwaves for the past two years.

The mixtape is lengthy, but Wiz did a good job of keeping the tracks concise, with none coming in over four minutes.

As one of hip hop's premiere talents, Wiz continues to shine with an effervescence that helps elevate his music and appeal to both the streets and the suburbs. If nothing else, 28 Grams came just in time to remind the fans that Wiz's personal life has not affected his ability to make hit records and have fun.

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(Photo: Atlantic Records)

Written by Jake Rohn

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