While the hip-hop world awaited the release of Wiz Khalifa’s debut studio album Rolling Papers, the Pittsburgh rapper was hard at work; Wiz assembled his crew of Chevy Woods, Juicy J, and a few others, and decided he was hungry for more than pop success. What emerged, Cabin Fever, was a collection of bangers. The 9-track tape was Wiz’s proof of his consistent ability to make money with pop hits, while grounding his fan base with complementary mixtapes. Featuring the freshly-surfaced producer Lex Luger, Cabin Fever embodied the raw, careless feel that Wiz’s veteran fans had waited for since the days of Prince of the City (1 & 2), Star Power, and Flight School.
The mixtape was as unexpected as it was satisfying for the TGOD followers who smelled the Rolling Papers sell-out pop feel from a mile away. Cabin Fever was certainly no Kush and Orange Juice, but for Wiz, it was his chance to jump on the Lex Luger wave, and show the doubters that he could still make beats you can play in the hood. It wasn’t long before we heard “Taylor!, Gang!, Taylor!, Gang!” shouted in the streets.
Cabin Fever is, by definition, the “extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time.” The mixtape boasts the Taylor Gang’s newly caught fever. Trapped in the studio with Bombay Gin and their essential ounces of weed, the crew clearly had an itch to show their critics that Rolling Papers wasn’t all that Wiz had to offer. “Black and Yellow” could have its radio play, while “Phone Numbers” could have its own underground space.
So, two and half years later, when Khalifa announced the release of Cabin Fever 2, fans of the Taylor Gang built up the same excitement that came from the mixtape’s predecessor. We thought that Wiz, who grew in two years into somewhat of a pop-idol and expectant father, was back to his old formula. Anticipating his second studio album O.N.I.F.C., CF2 gave his hungry fans something to satisfy the TGOD munchies before finding out if Mr. “Ink My Whole Body” could make a quality album.
To much disappointment, the sequel to Cabin Fever shows more of a belligerent, burnt out sickness than the itching fever of the original tape. Not only does CF2 lack the Lex Luger production that was often the crutch of Cabin Fever, but the silly, confident, catchy lyrics are gone as well. Wiz is much less the boasting, upbeat rapper on the rise; instead, he’s a wasted celebrity, stumbling into tracks and rambling out of them. If anything, we can tell that Wiz has been spending way too much time with Juicy J.
There are some bangers—don’t get me wrong—but not nearly enough to tide a loyal fanbase over until the release of O.N.I.F.C., no less build any excitement for the album. “Ridin Round” has a nice vibe with the appropriate Juicy J. feature. “100 Bottles” and “Stu” stand out for their upbeat braggadocio. But as a whole, the mixtape lacks consistency, and is too often dampened with Wiz’s drunk and high mumbling.
The only hope here is that Wiz responds with a stellar follow-up album. O.N.I.F.C. has some promise, and we heard on his Taylor Allderdice mixtape released earlier this year that our pot-head pal wants to return to his roots, responding to countless critics who labeled Rolling Papers as a disappointing, sell-out album. If O.N.I.F.C. lives up to the Taylor Gang hype, Cabin Fever 2 will be merely a drunk memory, a weekend’s worth of partying too hard in the studio. For now, we just know what happens when Juicy J brings too much gin.