Music

Wiz Khalifa: Taylor Allderdice

Attempting to atone for Rolling Papers, Wiz Khalifa turns in a reasonable if unsurprising facsimile of his high water mark to-date, Kush & OJ.


Wiz Khalifa

Taylor Allderdice

Label: Atlantic
US Release Date: 2012-03-13
UK Release Date: 2012-03-13
Amazon
iTunes

Taylor Allderdice is so weird to me. It's the sort of mixtape I should totally be predisposed to demanding yet I'm decidedly not. Atmosphere-wise it's a perfect blend of Curren$y's latest endeavors and a more, shall I say, dusty jazz template that speaks to me quite openly. I was (and am) also a huge fan of the most recent Wiz Khalifa project, Mac & Devin Go to High School. Granted that was a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, but even more enthusiastic fans of Snoop's more recent work (such as myself) would have been surprised that project came out as anything other than a slobbered-over mess. Taylor Allderdice was announced as a sort of mea culpa to the more hardcore fans for his major label debut, Rolling Papers, an album which contained enough of Wiz's more popular mixtape traits -- smooth flow, dope beats, annoyingly engaging hooks -- to keep lightweights coming back yet felt decidedly light on content as a whole. It was an album that's quickly become much easier to look back on and think... "Yeah, I suppose that was all right" rather than actually listen to. This mixtape arrives on the heels of that, complete with Khalifa's apology for it's radio-bending nature as well as a promise Taylor Allderdice would be what fans of Kush & Orange Juice had hoped Rolling Papers would be. A variety of issues halt this tape short of that being the case, but I suppose one does have to tip a hat to Khalifa for trying. It's no Cabin Fever trainwreck of a phenomenon, that's for sure.

Stealing this tape are the producers and chief among them is Dumont. Other than Sparky Banks and Dope Couture he's the only unknown to me across these seventeen tracks, and yet with only two beats he's able to completely jack the spotlight. If you're aware of the production on albums like Uncut Raw by First Toke or Dwight Spitz by Count Bass D, the two tracks handled by Dumont are well worth a listen. Most of the other beats are handled by Taylor Gang's established players, with Cardo doing his typically enthusiastic stoner vibe while Big Jerm underwhelms a little compared to his previous work. You'll also hear Sledgren reprise his Chrono Trigger sampling from Kush & OJ with "Never Been Part II", a song that carries plenty of controversy with it considering Alley Boy released a song with the same sample a month earlier and a couple underground rappers have flipped it as well. I'm willing to take the high road and chalk it up to Yasunori Mitsuda's genius, though I'll wager the Alley Boy track is easily a cut above the more-hyped Khalifa, Rick Ross and Amber Rose cut. Spaceghostpurrp also appears (touch back on that later) along with Lex Luger, Jake One, Harry Fraud and Diddy's boy Rob Holladay, but it's mostly a Taylor Gang show. Even if you haven't touched Wiz's favorite fragrance in years you'll be transported to those dorm days of haze.

Eventually, however, one has to approach the touchy subject of Wiz Khalifa himself. If you're anything like me and you've been following him since his Pistolvania days it's even touchier. And so you've followed him from .45-toting battle rapper to Curren$y-aping weed enthusiast moving towards pop superstardom with a sort of awkward awe. Wiz always seemed capable of something bigger than other rappers, but to be where he is now really is stunning. So on that level it's certainly poppin' to see him where he's at. It feels earned. But there's a very subtle side of the rapper that feels lost or, more importantly, that feels integral to his persona. Early on in Taylor Allderdice that aura seems to be floating around but pretty quickly through it's middle section the idea of humility seems to disappear. See, a large part of Khalifa's entertainment value came from his reliability as a sort of nerdy playboy on a college campus, getting girls and smoking weed just... because. It was a simplistic caricature that made sense, but in his conceit that he's actively pursuing Kush & Orange Juice's vibe despite being an international celebrity, getting engaged to a super model and being able to do just about whatever he wants on his day to day...eventually it wears on Taylor Allderdice. Honestly -- perhaps even sadly -- it's hard to pinpoint when that moment is, but to me it feels inevitable. At some point during Taylor Allderdice, for all but the most willing to fantasize of Khalifa's listeners, there comes a point where his character becomes disconnected from his real-life persona. At the very least, his lack of topics becomes a crutch rather than an attribute.

Such is the price of fame, I suppose, because it's equally saddening to make that argument in the face of the good that's done here. Taylor Allderdice is framed by a lot of shit-smelling interview interludes -- in other words, rather than watch a ten-minute Youtube clip of Khalifa being interviewed it's split across seventeen tracks -- but that shit-smelling is at least partially deserved. Worth mentioning again is that Dumont's two contributions -- as well as the other producers in general, really -- are well worth mentioning. Interviews aside, Taylor Allderdice would be perfectly suited to being an album. And to even attempt to drag Juicy J into the 21st century for an entirely new audience, to an old school Three 6 Mafia stan such as myself, is so admirable it defies all logic. "Mary 3x" should also be awkwardly enjoyable for those who wish Max B weren't (probably) gone from the game for the rest of his life. But, you know, there's a reason critics and folks around you seem so ready to turn against Wiz Khalifa, and it just has to do with his intangible inability to make you feel like you're along for the ride. Even a ridiculous caricature like Young Jeezy or Ghostface Killah has knacks for bringing the audience along. Wiz, ultimately, feels like a person that's bragging. Telling rather than showing. Where Curren$y raps about Scooby Doo cartoons, Wiz raps about making money. It's fine, he does it well, but why care really?

Taylor Allderdice is, perhaps inevitably, a sort of unknowable quantity. It's so enjoyable on the melodic hand I almost feel stupid to criticize it. But on the other hand, it's so unenjoyable I'd almost me loathe to recommend it to anyone who's not already fully invested in the Wiz Khalifa career arc. Which is to say in total, try it, I suppose. The thing is free, and the beats are ridiculous and Wiz' flows aren't far behind. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself wondering what truly makes Wiz more vital than the dozens of other rappers who've filled his lane both before and after his ascendence. Taylor Allderdice raises the age old question of substance over sound in hip-hop, and for at least this one moment I just have to choose substance. Taylor Allderdice has a great feel but when my immediate and lasting takeaway is a wish that these beats could find a more tolerable home, it's hard to feel more than partially satisfied.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.