Wiz Khalifa Blacc Hollywood

Wiz KhalifaBlacc Hollywood
Long extinct are the days when mixtape culture was the means to its own end, spawning cult heroes of rhyme that never crossed over; free, home-grown projects have served as a catapult to pop stardom for more than a decade. (Credit 50 Cent for that.) So now when we think of B.o.B. or Nicki Minaj or Wiz Khalifa — rap artists who slowly cultivated devoted followers on a grassroots level and still churn out downloadable freebies on a regular basis — our first notions are instead of their pop anthems. That Kush & Orange Juice Wiz has been swallowed by the monster anthems he creates with apparent ease: "Black & Yellow," "Roll Up," "Work Hard, Play Hard." The hooks worm into your brain and set up shop.

By his fifth studio release, the 26-year-old weed/Converse head has this whole pop-rap thing down to a science. Blacc Hollywood, an LP titled like it might bring some overarching theme, is the audio equivalent of the Transformers quadrilogy: a series of in-your-face, mass-appeal blockbusters that lure crowds and teach them nothing. To that end, the head of Taylor Gang is getting damn near close to perfecting his craft: the Detail-produced "We Dem Boyz" has been hyping carloads of college males since February; "Stayin Out All Night," orchestrated by Dr. Luke, picks up where the 24/7 party of 2011's "No Sleep" left off; and "KK," featuring Juicy J and a scene-stealing Project Pat, gives hip-hop its best marijuana anthem since Khalifa's last one. You won't learn anything about yourself or army brat Cameron Jibril Thomaz — a new father and the guy who scooped Kanye's girl — but your party playlist will have a few welcome additions. Were Hollywood actually a film, we might call it The Great Escape. (Atlantic/Rostrum)