How often do you hear an artist for less than a minute and know he’s the one? Better yet, when’s the last time you popped in a CD from an artist you’d never heard of, held no expectations for, and ended up grinning like a fool for the next sixty-nine minutes and twenty-five seconds? No matter how rarely lyricism, delivery, voice, and charisma unite to perfection in an individual, Wiz Khalifa has been blessed, and blesses us with arguably the best hip-hop release of the year.
For those hoping to hear more specifics than praise, this young Pittsburgh native invokes a flood of favorable comparisons. However, he is most like a young Nas, as Khalifa masterfully treads the line between the intellectual underground and street as an exceptional lyricist with a hard image. Like an Elzhi or pre-apathetic Mos Def, he attacks each track with complex multisyllabic rhyming patterns, while never straying an inch from reality. This kind of writing takes effort, and Khalifa’s poetry is startlingly polished, especially for a debut.
Yet it’s hard to be surprised by Khalifa’s maturity, even at age nineteen, when realizing the responsibility he has undertaken. As Pittsburgh’s self-proclaimed “Prince Of The City,” the emcee has accepted the whole 412 on his back, hoping to finally bring some due shine to his overlooked home. But even phenom’s need some help, and Khalifa was fortunate to hook up with his stellar production team who sound like a group of aspiring 9th Wonder’s with more edge.
Though surprisingly coherent, the production is an interesting mix of South-influenced beats and sped-up soul samples. In this way, Khalifa is able to please everyone, with anthemic bangers like “Pittsburgh Sound” and “Damn Thing,” as well as the catchy chipmunk soul of songs like “Keep The Conversation.” One constant throughout the album is its ripe inclusion of horns and strings, adding a classic feel to his fresh sound. Khalifa never wastes his beats, and his earnest confidence shines through on every track.
Although most are yet to hear from Khalifa, his success can hardly be measured by records sales, at least so far. As his earlier mixtape proclaims, Wiz intends to unite a city divided by more than just music. With Show and Prove, Khalifa demonstrates he has the hunger and determination to do just that, and maybe make a name for himself while he’s at it.