Rating: 8 / 10
Taylor Allderdice is the name of Wiz Khalifa’s latest mixtape, as well as his old high school - signifying a return to his roots. After the negative feedback his debut album Rolling Papers received, the return is in order. In most Hip-Hop star’s careers, there is a tipping point - the sound that built their initial fan base will either stay for good, or fall back to a more commercial approach. After the latter fizzled out critically, though excelled commercially, Wiz is attempting to muster up his former remedy of success.
As soon as “Amber Ice” kicks into gear, the Pittsburgh native’s shift in musical paradigm is apparent. The first three songs on the mixtape: the former, “California” and “Mia Wallace” are shrouded in coolness, increasing with each song. Dreamy production and catchy sayings is Khalifa’s bread and butter, and he sets the table very early here. “The Cruise” samples Frank Ocean, and “Number 16” is the most soulful production Wiz has ever rapped over. The instrumentals here are top-tier. “O.N.I.F.C.” and “Nameless” are both standouts, due to the beats. The first utilizes buoyant sounds and a light-hearted tone in voice to rise above the rest. The second is drenched in a slow, groove-heavy sound, and features Chevy Woods, who makes an impressive appearance.
Groove-heavy is a perfect adjective for this project. You don’t listen to Wiz Khalifa for lyrics; you listen to him for chill, quality production and addictive hooks. Which is why “Mary 3X” is a favorite; the “mary, mary, mary” chorus coupled with rising synths marks the highest climax on the project, only to beautifully drop to brash bass thumps and snare drums that precursor the next verse. If Rolling Papers was Kool-Aid in terms of production, Taylor Allderdice is Nyquil; deep, intoxicating, and heavy.
While the majority of the mixtape is harmony based, there are a few spots of flossing as well. “Never Been Part II” has a boastful, luxurious sound, featuring Rick Ross and Amber Rose (who does no harm). “My Favorite Song” has anthem potential, as does “T.A.P.”, produced by rising talent Spaceghostpurp. Both songs feature Juicy J, and the tape goes through a phase of 10 minutes or so where he turns the direction of the tape to a more brash and adrenaline-filled sound. With his first attempts at this, Wiz was not well received. But he has grown as an artist, and Juicy’s outlandish ad-libs are now welcomed.
Taylor Allderdice is a very enjoyable listen. One of the more apparent aspects on the tape is the growth of Wiz’s flow and its flexibility. He’s becoming a better rapper. And while we may never expect him to hang with the lyricists of the game, he really doesn’t have to. Not with the kind of beats he keeps receiving. This is music to ride to; and just in time for Spring Break, too.