Wiz Khalifa has a lot of money. Since releasing his polarizing debut Rolling Papers he’s been on the hip hop Forbes’ list twice and performed hundreds of sold out arena concerts, and if for some reason you didn’t know Wiz Khalifa has a lot of money he spends the majority of his sophomore album O.N.I.F.C. reminding you. The message varies from subtle chant on “Paperbond” “Get your money up and make your swag a little harder to follow” to the outright obnoxious mantra “I got so much money I think I could pay for all this” on “Bluffin” one of the albums standout tracks.
The songs on O.N.I.F.C. aren’t diverse. They fit into one of three categories. There’s the forgettable pop tunes intended for the watered down palate of commercial radio (“Got Everything”, “Let It Go”, “Work Hard Play Hard”). There’s the ignorant brilliance that Wiz proves he’s quite exceptional at (“It’s Nothin”, “Initiation”, “Bluffin”, and “The Bluff”). However, a larger portion than expected finds Wiz being honest and introspective. Take “Time” for example, a spaced out and somber beat which is the perfect medium for Wiz to put certain things in perspective; “Put here to take care of the family but how was I supposed to know/If I don’t take care of myself than how am I supposed to grow.” On “Rise Above” he recruits Pharrell and Taylor Gang member Tuki Carter (who spits some of the most struggle filled bars on a studio album since Freaky Zekey) for a song that appeared much better on paper than was executed in real life. Pharell succeeds in crafting a great beat that suits Wiz’s style, but Pharell and Tuki Carter just plainly strike out lyrically. The final glimpse into the introspective Wiz is on the congratulatory victory lap (that has become a custom of nearly every rap album it’s a bit passé now) titled ‘The Plan” and features Juicy J somehow getting his ratchet bars out over one of the most laid back beats on the album. The dual chorus is a novel idea but overall the songs point is achieved within 15 seconds, the other 4 odd minutes isn’t necessary.
The problem with O.N.I.F.C. is not that the content is not tolerable, but just not different enough. When he unveiled that cover art the expectations were for a genre blending Wiz Khalifa album that would be unlike anything else heard all year; sadly that isn’t the case. The closest Wiz gets to achieving something unique from his previous offerings are “Remember You” and “Up In It.” The former, featuring The Weeknd, is produced by frequent collaborators of The Weeknd Illangelo and DPAT. This results in it being a great song, but whether or not Wiz’s presence is necessary is debatable. One more verse from Abel and “Remember You” fits perfectly on any of The Weeknd’s 2011 mixtapes. Up In It, weirdly one of my favorite tracks on the album, is the result of Jim Jonsin being locked in a room with Roger Zapp and Cameo records for 24 hours and producing a beat that belongs in 1987, and that’s a compliment. Wiz Khalifa’s lyrics may not be the most complex on the track, but this is a baby-making track and that’s all it needs to be.
O.N.I.F.C. is Wiz’s most ambitious project yet, but the result is really just another decent rap album. There are enough bangers to have this in rotation for awhile, you’re just going to be hitting the skip button occasionally.