Local Pittsburgh hero releases his first LP since a change in artistic direction, but like his mixtapes, he often struggles to escape the shadows of Lil' Wayne and friend Curren$y.
It's easy to notice what people see in Wiz Khalifa when he works with other rappers -- his collaboration with Curren$y, How Fly, improves with more listens -- but on his own, Wiz Khalifa annoys or bores. Most of his songs sound incomplete and undercooked ("Moola and the Guap" is nothing more than Casio presets and effects), while his rhymes are mostly at Curren$y-like quality of three years ago. Two late-game exceptions, the blissed-out "This Plane" and surprisingly jazzy "Who I Am", provide much-needed fresh air, but by then, the rest of the nearly hour-long album has taken it's toll. "Chewy" is Deal or No Deal's big highlight, though after repeat listens, "Hit Tha Flo" proves deserving as well.
Unfortunately, some really bad habits can be found on Deal or No Deal. Khalifa does Lil' Wayne-esque laughs all over as if this were a mixtape and obsesses over syllable emphasis, which does help Khalifa stand out in party playlists. Unfortunately, beyond that swagger and his lifestyle raps (Khalifa raps about women and weed the way Cool Kids rap about shoes and jeans), there really isn't much here as an album, which is what this is supposed to be. Ultimately, you'll either relate to Deal or No Deal and ride out to it and have a good time, or you'll see through it and get pretty bored pretty quickly. The beats are mostly thin and synthesized, the lyrics are repetitive, and Khalifa as a character is not the perfect synthesis of Lil' Wayne and Curren$y he obviously desires to be. Surely, Wiz Khalifa leaves no room for a middle ground with Deal or No Deal, an appropriate title.