In Divine Culture Allah's blog, "The Mixtape Culture," he breaks down the Ten Commandments of moving mixtapes. Rule No. 7, says Divine Allah, is "Build a Strong team. If you think your [sic] going to do it alone then your [sic] sadly mistaken."
For Wiz Khalifa -- whom Dick Vitale would call a "diaper dandy" -- rule No. 7 is covered, in pumping his new Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania. The team is: Rostrum Records (www.rostrumrecords.com), run by former L.A. Reid assistant Benjy Grinberg; I.D. Labs Management, run by E. Dan and Chad Glick of Strict Flow legend; and production by Hands Down and Eviction Notice musicologist DJ Huggy. Promotion is handled by Kaarin Terpack and the Soulcasion Entertainment dime unit. With that kind of team it's almost unfair what they're about to do to the game.
The product is no fluke. For a young'n just barely in his teens, the kid's cadence, swagger, vocab and breath control on a track is remarkable. His flow's got its own hypnotic ditty-bop to it, not unlike a certain illmatic Queens emcee when he first came out. Check for jewels such as "Niggas Know," where Wiz brags, "I got the heat, cuz / Heavy in these streets 'cause / I had a street buzz / before I had peach fuzz" -- true story, by the way.
Wiz is cool rhymin' over the tracks of popular artists, as when he comfortably kills the "Welcome 2 Jamrock" rhythm on "Testify" -- arguably greater than Jr. Gong himself -- or "Get Away," lifting one of Mobb Deep's classics to "spit coke, shift bricks, like Bob the Builder / kids know, Wiz sick like salmonella."
But the more stellar cuts are original production coming out of I.D. "Me," featuring Kev Da Hustla, cuts with violins sawing through the track in the most abusive of ways. "Soldier" unearths an unbelievable Gene Stovall performance in a soulful track with a Steel City stamp. You'll never believe lyrics so hard could come from such a baby-faced emcee -- just part of the prince's charm.