Show and Prove
Cameron “Wiz Khalifa” Thomaz is an MC from Pittsburg Pennsylvania who is steadily gaining popularity worldwide for his catchy, hooky, poppy electronic singalong songs about being from Pittsburg and smoking chron. He’s been gaining popularity since 2009/2010 but his first full length studio album Show and Prove came out in 2006 when he was eighteen, on the to me unknown entity Rostrum records which is most likely a local independent Pittsburg rap label owned by mr. Thomaz himself or one of his homeboys. The producers of the album were such unknowns as Johnny Juliano, ID Labs and Black Czer and the list of guest rappers is equally exciting. The album didn’t cause a bleep on the hiphop radar and probably didn’t get much spin outside of Pittsburg, obviously because it took him three more years of making mixtapes before anyone who was anybody claimed they had heard of him. Since I didn’t give half a fuck about the hit singles he’s been having as of late because they’re way too much on the Black Eyed Peas’ eurodance tip in my humble opinion, maybe his underground stuff will do more for me. Can’t say I’m looking forward to listening to Show and Prove though, so if you think I’m biased against who you believe to be hiphop’s lord and savior you’re damn right.
A one verse wonder over some very uplifting music. Wiz compares himself to B.I.G. in the very first bar… The fuck?
2. Pittsburg Sound
Apparently the Pittsburg Sound consists of Kanye/RZA-styled chipmunk vocals and G-funk-ish synths petending to be an organ. Not that this is the most original idea ever but it is pleasant nonetheless. Khalifa’s rapping sounds like a mix of the Game’s and Memphis Bleek’s, especially the former since he namedrops 50 Cent. I cannot remember jack shit he said but I didn’t get pissed at Pittsburg Sound while it was playing.
3. ‘Bout Mine
In comes a 12th rate Mannie Fresh imitation of an instrumental. Wiz calling himself the young Shaq of rap is redundant because as I remember a younger Shaq released a few rap albums himself. It’s not terrible for what it is and I wouldn’t walk out if the DJ put this on in the club, so meh.
4. I Choose You
And back are the soul-samples. Except for that Wiz says he’ll take us back to ’97, which he does not do (nor should he according to most hiphop heads who wouldn’t like to return to the shiny suit era, although I’m not one of those) Again I didn’t mind this one much but I still do hope some other styles than Southern bounce and ol’school-Kanye are getting explored.
5. Damn Thing
Another Southern-ish track… This one rips off Lil Jon producing Ciara, rather than imitating Mannie Fresh. The voice on the hook sounds like Timbaland. It’s really unlikely that it is him unless it is a sample. Khalifa tries his hand at speed-rapping here, which he did prior on bits of ‘Bout Mine. He’s not the worst rapper to ever do it but he isn’t awesome at it either.
6. Keep the Conversation (feat. Boaz)
And we’re back to chipmunk soul, although this incorporates latin-esque piano keys in a manner which’ll have you barely notice it unless you pay close attention. The guest rapper Boaz sounds generic, moreso than his host. So far Show and Prove sounds like two separate and very different albums by other artists thrown together in iTunes with each album providing a track in turn. This was probably intentionally done to keep listeners from getting bored by the monotony each style provides. It does not work.
7. Stay In Ur Lane
This sounds like N.W.A’s Prelude stretched out over the length of an entire song a lot. It helps break the monotony but sounds too much like a Documentary-era Game freestyling over a N.W.A beat to click with me. Especially because Cameron namedrops some people, although he does it maybe a few times during some songs rather than for the length of the entire fucking album.
8. Stand Up (feat. Kev da Hustla)
This track sounds like Just Blaze made it in one of his better days. Khalifa sounds like Game again because that guy did some very similar tracks with Blaze and off course the vocal similarity (which he really can’t help I suppose).
9. Too Late
An overely dramatic Dre post 2001-imitation. Did I tell you Wiz Khalifa sounds like the Game already?
10. I’m Gonna Ride
Now this one fools you into believing it will turn out a Just Blaze-ish soul-track but in stead goes the southern bounce-speedrapping route right after the intro.
11. Gotta Be a Star [Remix] (feat. Johnny Juliano & S. Money)
Khalifa invites some inferior artists to make him sound better in comparison, which seems to be the purpose of every guest rapper on Show and Prove by the way. It works but it doth not a good song make…
12. Let Em Know
I don’t care.
13. Sometimes (feat. Vali Porter)
This is actually some pretty smooth R&B-shit. While obviously this is a track made in a futile attempt to sell Show and Prove the ladies it does break the monotony a bit, also this is well-produced and both the R&B chick on the hook and our host provide adequate, though instantly forgettable performances. The high pitched vocal sample that is used here and there doesn’t even fuck it up for me. Well played sir.
14. Locked and Loaded (feat. Kev da Hustla)
And we’re back to Mempis Bleek poorly imitating Southern stuff-sounding shit.
Kev da Hustla sounds exactly what you’d expect someone who calls himself that to sound so yeah this was not very good. While Show and Prove is a little oversaturated in the meh I have to compliment Khalifa for keeping it low on the godawful.
15. Burn Somethin’
Cameron kicks off by saying “It’s another one of those”. And he ain’t lie.
16. Crazy Since the 80’s
I don’t know to whom the sample repeating the title over and over in the hook belongs but I don’t really care either. A bit of trivia, allmusic.com believes this is called Crazy Since the Bus
17. History in the Making/ Never Too Late
The dramatic guitars or synths-wanting-to-be-dramatic-guitars on History in the Making seem to be jacked straight from the soundtrack to a crappy ‘80s movie. Never too Late is another College Drop Out rip-off. Like most of the tracks on Show and Prove, expertly produced but not original in the least bit and done better prior and since. And with that this album is over.
None, Show and Prove is pretty consistent throughout.
Well I didn’t hate Show and Prove. I don’t really know why I expected a Drake-rip off since that style wasn’t yet invented for Cameron to steal when this came out. This rather is what the Game’s second Aftermath album could’ve sounded like if it would’ve been released right after the Documentary and if Lil Jon and Mannie Fresh would’ve been brought in to also produce as well as Documentary vets ‘Ye and Dre. Well not exactly but it does describe the overall sound of the album pretty effectively. Either Khalifa’s producers raided the studios of the previously mentioned of A-class producers (and Lil Jon) for their most mediocre work, or they’re just really versatile in imitating beatsmiths when they’re at their least exceptional. The latter is the most probable. Wiz for his part also sounds like a bunch other rapper at their technically proficient but least exciting. I won’t say better rappers as the guy who he sounds like on here for the most part creates his lyrics by rhyming the names of other artists and their songs and albums with… the names of other artists and their songs and albums, and Khalifa doesn’t do that. On the other hand this does not contain anything as massiv as How We Do or Hate It or Love It (and no I am not trying to imply what this album lacks is 50 Cent’s hook sensibilities) so in the end we have a rather meh album which makes you want to hear the superior stuff which inspired it. But it does give a promise for better work in the future. Cameron is an adequate but unimaginative wordsmith who doesn’t drop any memorable lines on here but keeps the flow moving. However, since I have heard some of the work he has done since and my first thought was that he was simply trying to make money off the Drake demographic. This album trying pretty much the same thing with 2006’s flavors of the month: Game and Derrty South and that is why I’m not that interested in reviewing follow-ups because I mostly expect them to sound like expertly produced imitations of what’s popular at the time of release, although given how huge this guy is becoming I may not have much of a choice and there is off course chance of this guy vastly improving his skills in the five years since this album since he was eighteen at the time of its release. And his next albums may be better than the singles off them since mostly the boring tracks off an album get released off an album to become hits, so maybe if I do eventually get into his 2009 follow-up Deal or No Deal or his 2011 major label debut Rolling Papers I’ll be pleasantly surprised but let’s keep our expectations low for now.
As buying hiphop albums is concerned you could do a lot worse than Show and Prove but you could also do a lot better. If you don’t mind the heard-it-all-before beats and lyrics and just want something to bump in the ride or on the house party that’s absolutele mainstream hiphop from 2006 and you find this one for a fair price sure, g’head. But given the independent label nature of Show and Prove that is highly unlikely and if you come across a copy for major bucks don’t bother since this is nothing special really.