Amber Rose was nowhere to be found on Monday night at Wiz Khalifa’s album listening party at The Westway in New York City, probably because a smoke-filled, gin-soaked strip club isn’t the healthiest environment for a mom-to-be. Even so, the place was packed with industry tastemakers, photographers, and Wiz’s entire crew (the Taylors, as he likes to refer to them)—all to celebrate his latest album O.N.I.F.C.
Immersed in the concrete jungle theme, exotic dancers dressed as leopards and tigers gyrated to the music, posing with enamored guests. Wiz posted up by the DJ booth at the front of the club and introduced every track as he puffed on a cigar that he expertly rolled just before hitting the stage. In a state of happy delirium, he described the album as fun and energetic in its entirety, inspired by some old school artists in format and style.
Songs such as “Let It Go” featuring Akon and “The Bluff” featuring Cam’ron contain Wiz’s signature mid-tempo bounce and lyrical braggadocio, but ride off the strength of the aptly-placed guest verses. The Pittsburgh MC describes his trip to Harlem to shoot the video for “The Bluff,” paying reverence to the neighborhood’s musical legacy and hard-hustle rep. The Stargate-produced single “Work Hard, Play Hard” and “It’s Nothin'” featuring 2 Chainz soar with catchy hooks and club appeal.
Wiz plays with beats on this album a little more freely than on his 2011 set Rolling Papers, as evident on The Neptunes-produced “Rise Above” featuring Pharrell, where he is reflective—even spiritually, if you can imagine—about his journey as a musician. “Got Everything” featuring his R&B signee Courtney Noelle encapsulates the classic Jay and Bey formula (sweetly masculine swagger with devotional hook) to get a little sentimental about relationships. And while his fiancée wasn’t physically by his side, she held her man down with a short and spicy voicemail that Wiz added in an attempt to sex up the album.
“Some of these tracks are not even about the lyrics,” said Wiz. “They’re about the music. The music is the biggest thing on this album.”
O.N.I.F.C. is due December 4 featuring the singles “Work Hard, Play Hard” and The Weekend-assisted “Remember You,” plus appearances from Pharrell, Cam’ron, 2 Chainz, Akon, and Juicy J.
Photos via JDShots.com and Instagram