Artist: Wiz Khalifa
Album: O.N.F.I.C. (Only N***a in First Class)
Sounds Like: serviceable but rather average music to ride, party, drink &/or smoke your mellow drugs too that’s saved from utter mediocrity by solid production (3.25 out of 5, worth copping the full album on sale or a decent amount of mp3s)
Reviewer: DJ Fusion
Wiz Khalifa is one of those guys you want to win.
Pittsburgh representative Cameron Jibril Thomaz was one of those guys in major record label purgatory for a minute, dropping his 1st two albums to little fanfare, then leaving his former label, getting a lot of love from the “Kush & Orange Juice” indie-released mixtape and getting major love for his catchy single “Black & Yellow”.
His third album “Rolling Papers” did pretty well sales wise while getting a fair mixture of extreme love, hate and indifference from listeners and critics. Fans of mixtape era Wiz felt he was going too pop with his new major label release production and topic wise, feeling he either sold out or just became cookie-cutter and boring.
Now with the “O.N.F.I.C. (Only N***a in First Class)” album, Wiz Khalifa drops kind of a weird project.
While the album definitely has parts that are screaming for Top 40 airplay, there’s some “I can rhyme for the streets, here’s my tough talk joints, see?!?” tracks that even he doesn’t seem to believe in while spitting them.
Over “O.N.F.I.C.” ‘s 17 tracks, Wiz Khalifa does a pretty decent job with the rhymes, lyrics and whatnot. While not pushing any new or interesting boundaries as an MC, he’s not embarrassing the art form in any way. He goes in the hardest with his skillset on the great “No Limit”, which feels like his version of “Rising to the Top” as an average guy climbing up to new highs inspirational rap.
The release also has mostly solid production on the boards which can even give a listener who never smoked weed an enjoyable mellow buzz. The mid-tempo beats on deck from I.D. Labs, Drumma Boy, Pharrell, Jim Jonsin and more aren’t anything to sneeze at for an audio high.
“O.N.F.I.C.” ‘s guest appearances range from meh (Amber Rose is Wiz’ lady…but shouldn’t be on the mic doing much of nothing…NOTHING) to workman-like (Akon deciding to appear on the mic singing during a break in between rolling in Lady Gaga’s royalties $ like Scrooge McDuck on “Let It Go”, Courtney Noelle on “Got Everything”, Cam’ron on “The Bluff”) to pretty all right (particularly 2 Chainz basically running away w/the energy and vibes with “It’s Nothing” and Pharrell and Tuki Carter on the standout with “Rise Above”, Juicy J and Chevy Woods).
The big weaknesses of Wiz Khalifa’s latest album are the same that have appeared on many of this year’s mainstream Hip-Hop releases – overkill with the number of tracks, not knowing how to handle crafting an album that’s about limited subject matter and lackadaisical hooks.
“O.N.F.I.C.” subject matter pool is literally just about smoking weed, getting ass, being fly, making it to the top & having mad money. Which would be just fine if the album was tightly structured…but it’s not.
Trimming some of the sonic bloat by take out some of the unnecessary dead weight tracks and shortening up some of the song lengths (the vast majority of tunes on here have no real need to be in the 4 – 5 minute range) would have made “O.N.F.I.C.” more of a fun sonic ride instead of feeling like you’re stuck in traffic with a weed head who babbles just a tad bit too much.
Some of the hooks on this album are just damned terrible from Wiz, either dragging on for too WAY long (“FRFR” and “Up In It”…really?!?) or sound inauthentic by pulling a “let’s imitate the pop and rap artists of the moment” vibe that just does not mesh well with his style (particularly the 2 Chainz-esque “Initiation”).
Ultimately, Wiz has given folks some quality tracks with his latest project but overall has given listeners a rather forgettable full-length album. “O.N.F.I.C.” isn’t insulting to your ears but this is not the project that is going to make Wiz Khalifa move up in the world on an artistic end or as the great pop star of the hour.
This album the audio equivalent of getting f***ed up at a gathering with your peoples, knowing there were elements of an all right time being had in spurts but not remember a cot damn thing of import from the night after you wake up on a couch with morning breath & cotton mouth.
If the bro can get some focus on what direction he really wants to go into – since he does actually have some solid talents – he could drop a very good project on multiple ends. Instead of being content on being the O.N.F.I.C., he needs to become the man with a plan with what part of the Hip-Hop world he wants to make a strong impact in.
Personal Favorite Tracks: Rise Above feat. Pharrell, Tuki Carter & Amber Rose; No Limit; Paperbound
Music Video: Wiz Khalifa feat. Pharrell, Tuki Carter & Amber Rose – Rise Above
Music Video:Wiz Khalifa – No Limit
Album: Pour Une Âme Souveraine
Artist: MeShell Ndegeocello
Genre: Soul/Blues/Alt Pop
Sounds like: Kindred spirits dancing togther, sometimes almost seeming like the same person
While she’s long been a beloved artist, Nina Simone has always been largely overlooked by the culture at large. Sure people know the name, and they’ve maybe heard a song here and there – but over the years Nina’s become one of those healthy artistic meals that you know you should be putting into your system, but lots of people seem to set aside like vegetables on the plate.
There are many reasons for this – the timing of her popularity and fame, the darkness of her skin, her uncharacteristic beauty, her lack of regard for popular trends, her “radical” political stances and feminist lyrics. Nina never looked like a pop star, nor did she ever really seem to care much for catering the whims of the industry. Despite being known as the Queen of Soul, Simone’s repertoire spanned a wide variety of styles and energy levels, making it hard to pin her down to any sort of common denominator or easy description. Best to call her an artist and appreciate her in doses, choosing the parts you like and claiming to appreciate the rest even if it’s not really your thing.
What’s interesting though is that if you read that last paragraph back and replace every time I said “Nina Simone” with the words “Meshell Ndegeocello” – almost every statement I wrote would still be true. So it’s almost fitting in a way that Meshell’s 10th studio album is a celebration of the music of such a kindred spirit.
The question that lingers though is just how much people will notice this particular tribute amongst all the others that are just around the corner. Because while many artists have drawn from Nina Simone’s influence in their own music (Jeff Buckley, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu), there’s also been a recent uprising in efforts to celebrate Simone’s story on film — including Cynthia Mort’s upcoming Nina, which somewhat controversially has cast actress Zoe Saldana to play the role of the late singer.
And while it remains to be seen how popular culture will respond to this representation of Nina Simone’s life, what will be more interesting to see is if it has any effect on the popularity of Meshell’s collection, or if it will simply wash away people’s awareness of it at all.
If that should happen, it would be a shame — because it’s the most focused Meshell’s sounded in years.
Pour Une Âme Souveraine (“For a Kindred Spirit”) finds the eclectic bassist in comfortable ground, deconstructing songs with the assistance of her longtime touring band — something you find her doing live on stage quite a bit. But it also places her directly into one of her biggest strengths as a musician and songwriter, creating an album with a clear theme.
As much as I love Meshell Ndegoecello’s work, her last few albums she’s released have been more experimental than definitive. As an admirer who’s comfortable with her sound and appreciative of her spirit as an artist, I enjoy hearing her stretch out in this way. But it’s impossible not to recognize just how far away these explorations have taken her from her early brushes with Grammy-winning fame.
There’s nothing wrong with Meshell being “out there” musically, it’s just that when you stay “out there” for so long, it tends to erode your larger audience. Hardcore fans stay, of course — but with a collection like this that has (I think) a wider appeal, it’s hard to know just who will actually have a chance to hear it.
Drawing almost directly on the similarities in their style and vision, Pour Une Âme Souveraine offers Ndegeocello and her small but impressive list of guest stars (Sinead O’Connor, Lizz Wright, Valerie June, Toshi Reagon, and Cody ChestnuTT) fertile ground to explore and energize choices from Simone’s catalog that have spoken to them over the years. Whether the subject matter is celebrating blackness, championing womanhood, or simply seeking acceptance and understanding in a world where love seems hidden and difficult to find, if not impossible to hold onto – there’s a comfort level here that makes this collection a warming, easy listen.
Fans of Nina Simone’s music should appreciate the care given to not lose the essence of these songs, even when the musical styles have been updated and matched to the strengths of Ndegeocello’s songwriting. Or to put it more plainly, there’s less piano music than you might initially expect to hear on this collection (but you hardly miss it once the songs get going).
Whether you’re a fan of Nina’s or Meshell’s, or you love that old Lilith Fair vibe, or you simply want to feel the connection between two artists who’s work could easily be seen as a mother and daughter to each other – you owe it to yourself to check out Pour Une Âme Souveraine.
See what you think, here’s “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:
I need to preface this by saying, with the loss of my good friend I really am in no mood to write a long review.
Ok, let’s get to this.
I like Keyshia Cole yes I just said that. I always have enjoyed most of her music. I don’t pay attention to her TV shows and things going on in her personal life.
I like this CD! Dammit I like it!
I don’t know why I like it I just do.
She makes rather radio friendly R&B but it has a good vibe. There is something about her voice that fits her music quite well. It gives the music some “life” if that makes sense.
I don’t know if I’d like these songs as much if someone else was singing them.
My only real complaint about this CD is this 1 random house music song that does not fit the vibe.
This CD has a nice flow to it the songs outside of that one all fit well together.
Of course it is filled with love, love lost and all that R&B typical topics.
But I still like it!
Check out the lead single (which is my jam) Enough of No Love
DJ Fusion and I got a chance to hang out with the good folks at Where’s My 40 Acres to review this ratchet foolishness.
Take a listen right here