Let’s just acknowledge it off the bat: the world was never going to need a 90 minute Wiz Khalifa album.

This isn’t so much meant as a damning condemnation, but amidst the rapidly growing ‘Let’s get those streaming dollars’ cash-ins, we’ve largely seen artists uniquely disposed (somewhat) pull them off. Drake is Drake. Migos were at the peak of their Culture -al goodwill, sailing down smoothly with its overblown sequel.

Wiz, on the other hand, has found himself in altogether odder position the past few years. With two all-out mega-hits in ‘Black and Yellow’ and ‘See You Again’, he should have been enjoying the comforts of an established artist, secure in his position.

Khalifa’s workmanlike simplicity may have attracted a solid fanbase, yet, his genial, charm-over-content presence has largely been his undoing. His by the numbers stoner verses grew more tired with each year, his continuing role as Snoop-lite preventing the rapper from cementing himself the way his equally (or, even, less) successful peers have. He didn’t sound faded, he sounded truly, painfully bored. The gnawing sense that it could have been anyone rapping alongside that thunderous Charlie Puth hook on ‘See You Again’ hasn’t done him any favors, nor his increasingly by the numbers stoner anthems.

All this makes Rolling Papers 2 quite the surprise. Even a contradiction in terms. Khalifa’s persona isn’t nearly ready to hoist up what’s essentially a double album, and, yet, this is largely the most focused and invested he’s sounded since Taylor Allderdice.

Naturally, there are clunkers. ‘Very Special’ boasts a chorus of, “I treat you special...cuz you are very special.” We hope you aren’t actually using that line with the ladies, Wiz. By and large, however, Khalifa is a solid showman here, happy to cede the overlong show to guests, who often inject the bloated LP with much needed energy. Gucci Mane is on point, Swae Lee makes takes yet another star turn during his appearance, and Snoop Dogg continues his hot (reheated?) streak, embracing his age more than ever (“She stumbled on to some grown shit, old ass nigga with a long dick,” is sure to earn chuckles).

Khalifa himself peppers in some of the best songs he’s ever put on wax. ‘Bootsy Bellows’ is an immediate bop with its stripped back beat. ‘B Ok’ is perhaps the most heartfelt song of his career, a stoner ripping away their facade to reveal the real, human struggles going on behind the glazed eyes. It briefly shows what the man himself might be capable of, should he just take off those cheesy sunglasses once in a while.