Wiz Khalifa the brand has progressed far faster than Wiz Khalifa the MC. In fact, the popular rapper’s fifth record is an alarming regression and a head-shaking misfire. Since his 2006 independent debut, Khalifa has proved to be a limited artist buoyed by charm, guile, and sprinkles of wit. Here, the shine has completely worn off; the lazy rhyme schemes and familiar subjects (weed, booty, cash) are so numbing that the pop-oriented, synth-dominated production can’t even compensate. Only when he shifts focus on the disc’s best track, “House on the Hills,” does it sound like his head isn’t addled by the clouds of kush he incessantly extols. Elsewhere, Khalifa’s persona intimates the danger of a grand hustler, yet his songs, especially “Raw,” “KK,” and the limp “True Colors” lack edge, surprise, or daring. On “The Sleaze,” using elaborately elongated syllables, he proclaims “[expletive] the rules/ we make our own,” an odd claim for music this formulaic and tepid. This is hip-hop for the food court. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “House on the Hills”Ken Capobianco can be reached at email@example.com.