One of the more recent examples of prior industry woes spawning eventual success, Wiz Khalifa has earned a spot within Hip Hop’s current elite given an endless determination to make an impact on today’s game. Much like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, his excessive tattoos and marijuana consumption have made his brand indispensable to some with others debating his staying power, seeing him to be purely style over substance. As anticipation steadily builds for his forthcoming retail release O.N.I.F.C., Wiz Khalifa’s newest mixtape Cabin Fever 2 is an early fourth quarter appetizer designed to hold fans over.

Wiz Khalifa’s greatest strength has been his consistent ability to adapt his sound as a means of survival, making it easy to forget that his place of origin is the Midwestern hub Pittsburgh. Cabin Fever 2 is a wise career choice as it serves the two purposes of showcasing Wiz’s talents and capitalizing on the continuing comeback trail of Taylor Gang acquisition Juicy J. This mutually beneficial relationship plays out over a fair portion of the project, as the trap influenced “M.I.A.” and “I’m Feelin,” the smoothed out “Pacc Talk” and the soulful “Ridin Round” display a chemistry that doesn’t come off as contrived despite their differences in age and background.

Another angle Wiz Khalifa approaches is that of L.A.’s predominant club culture known as “ratchet” music on “Bout Me” featuring Southern Cali underground spitter Problem, the tape’s second frequent guest contributor. These two combine forces for the hard “Smokin Drink” and “100 Bottles” – songs that draw excitement from the lavishness of big spending and drug abuse. Along the same lines, longtime followers will be sure to claim stoner anthem “Deep Sleep” as a new favorite due to his ambient trademark singing, proving Wiz mindful of the formula that helped blow him up.

While not exactly pioneering anything new, Cabin Fever 2 further establishes Wiz Khalifa as a serviceable rapper aware enough to blend in with what’s popular for the sake of maintaining a presence. Largely dependent on the blueprints laid by Three 6 Mafia and Lex Luger, he brings life to the typically mundane and makes up for instances such as French Montana’s barely decipherable verse on “Nothin Like the Rest.” In spite of his trendy one-dimensional concepts, there is ultimately redeemable art and magic to be found in Wiz’s work here.

DX Consensus: “Free Album” (the highest possible praise for a mixtape)

Listen to Cabin Fever 2 by Wiz Khalifa