Wiz Khalifa's 'Roll Up' aims at radio while 'On My Level' is for the ragers

'Black and Yellow' star keeps the momentum going

March 07, 2011|By Wesley Case

Although Wiz Khalifa’s Pittsburgh-repping calling card “Black and Yellow” still sits at No. 18 on Billboard, the song will soon likely fade just as the Steelers’ Super Bowl hopes did last month. So here’s “Roll Up,” another Stargate-produced track poised to dominate radio. The beat’s shimmering synths and surprisingly knocking drums will sound at home on pop radio (get ready, Z104) and rap station 92Q. If you’re not sold on Wiz’s lyrical ability, “Roll Up” won’t change your mind – these are elementary lines easy to memorize, recite and regurgitate. But if you like breezy rap singles that your pop-minded girlfriend will like, too, “Roll Up” is for you. The video isn’t special, but casting Diddy’s girlfriend Cassie (what happened to her recording career?) will make dudes like me watch at least once.

As a fan of Wiz’s rawer mixtape material, I find “Roll Up” too soft and obvious, despite how well it's crafted (there's no denying that bridge — note to rappers: work with Stargate if you want accessible hits). When Wiz’s anticipated LP Rolling Papers (see the theme, stoner?) drops March 29, I’ll likely skip this more than half the time. But Wiz gets a pass for this ladies jam because he also dropped “On My Level” — a dizzying ode to getting twisted daily (as O.G. guest Too $hort raps, “and it’s a Wednesday night / This ain’t the weekend!”) — around the same time. Producer Jim Jonsin’s speaker-rattling backdrop sonically recreates a too-drunk night out while Wiz raps well enough. Like many of Wiz’s best songs, the melodic hooks up the replay value. 

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