Recording information: ID Labs, Pittsburgh, PA; Luke's In The Boo, Malibu, CA; Paramount Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Parkland Playhouse, Parkland, FL; The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA; Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Miko Lim.
Stoned immaculate with a self-professed monthly weed bill of ten-thousand dollars, Wiz Khalifa isn't the type of rapper to make clear-headed, well-defined albums, but his fifth studio effort gets back to serious, sullen business often enough that it almost has a theme. It almost has a key track, too, since the midtempo "Still Down" finds Wiz doing an inventory and listing all his million-dollar blessings with some appreciation, while some venom is thrown at those irresponsible fall-behinds (he calls them "pussy ass" you-know-whaters). Wiz got his slice, then settled down and checked out as "Just bought a real home/Me and my watch: real stone" leads to stories of smoking pounds back at the crib, while elsewhere, "Hope" opens with Hendrix-styled guitars and the sounds of a strip club VIP room turning into the set of Caligula while the hook goes "Hope you got thousands in your pocket/Cuz she ain't lookin' for love." It's doled out like a mantra, since this is the album where getting stoned comes with some paranoia, or at least, some distrust. "True Colors" with Nicki Minaj is pop-rap polish plus an anthem for those who like to see their friends go green with envy, and if Wiz's "y'all don't deserve me" attitude means he'll soon quit the game, he's not going to retire without leaving some worth-proving bangers. "We Dem Boyz" is a knucklehead club juggernaut, from its title to its drippy, Auto-Tuned hook, while "KK" is the sound of "Black & Yellow" meeting the Three 6 Mafia with Project Pat and Juicy J as guests. Then there's the soaring "House in the Hills" featuring Curren$y and "Stay Out All Night," which comes packaged in a beautiful, laid-back yet lush Dr. Luke production, but the isolationist themes are back, as well-healed cocooning and selective guest lists seem the only way to deal with this world of haters and losers. Still, clamping down and checking out rarely sounded as good as it does on Blacc Hollywood, and sometimes it's even Greta-Garbo-"I want to be alone" good. Get on social media, sneer at some friends, and use this as the smug soundtrack. ~ David Jeffries