Rapper Wiz Khalifa loves marijuana. He talks about it in almost all his songs, in which he brags about his quality of product, and gives his albums names like Kush and Orange Juice and Rolling Papers. Khalifa loves it so much that he tried carrying 28 grams of it boarding a flight in El Paso. Hence the name of his new mixtape.
Khalifa was arrested the day before 28 Grams was set to drop. Many feared that his arrest would delay the mixtape’s release (rightly so considering the fact that possession of 28 grams of marijuana in Texas can lead to 180 days of jail time). However, Khalifa vowed that he would drop the mixtape once he was released from jail. Through a massive viral campaign of #FreeTrapWiz, Khalifa was astonishingly released from jail in less than a day. Khalifa also managed to somehow post a selfie from jail, which has lead to many crowning him the “King of Selfies.”
Once out of jail, Khalifa released 28 Grams. The mixtape cleverly has twenty-eight tracks, many of them featuring his new persona of Trap Wiz. Khalifa, being the lead member of his Pittsburgh crew Taylor Gang, features a lot of his Taylor Gang colleagues, such as Chevy Woods and Ty$. There are also features of major rap artists such as Juicy J, Pimp C, and even Curren$y.
The majority of the tracks on this mixtape feature heavy trap production and beats from songs that already exist, like Schoolboy Q’s “Man of the Year” reimagined on the track “Maan,” and T-Pain’s “Up Down” on the same titled track. There are also a handful of songs where Khalifa does not use his trap persona and rhymes over sample-heavy beats like on “Samo” and “Comb Over.”
The best moments in this mixtape are when Khalifa abandons his Trap Wiz persona and rides out on the smoother and wavier beats. The contrasts between these two different types of tracks on the mixtape are very noticeable. The first ten or so songs feature Trap Wiz sifting through the same weed metaphors and talking about his tendency to “hit it and quit it” with women he meets at the club. His method of communicating this to the listener is not the recognizable Khalifa flow and voice, but rather abrasive autotune yelling that is trying to mimic autotune aficionado Future.
On the smoother and Trap Wiz-absent tracks, listeners can sit back, roll a fat one, and listen to the floating harp melodies like on “Samo” or vibe with the incredibly funky bassline on “The Rain.” Khalifa’s lyrics are not deep or profound by any means, but he has carved himself out a nice niche in today’s rap scene. He’s the guy who always talks about weed and has those boisterous laughs in what seem to be every song. His cannabis metaphors are recycled and fall flat sometimes, but it’s fine because his production always seems to match his persona as the goofy-stoner rapper.
Things get a lot more serious when Trap Wiz comes out and spits over the dark and lurching trap beats that flood 28 Grams. His flaws as a lyricist become more apparent than ever and listeners might find themselves craving for the old Khalifa.