Does the Vegas emcee's latest effort sizzle or fizzle?
On Dizzy Wright's second studio album The Growing Process, the 24-year old rapper makes an attempt at honing in his focus as an artist by establishing a moral constitution for his music to adhere to until further notice. For the most part, this is goal is met by the young upstart. While some tracks fall flat, there are definite instances in which Wright is able to spread his personal gospel in a digestible fashion. He does this effectively on "Can I Feel This Way," a track with a stoner-y waterfall synth beat coupled with verses and hooks that don't feel as overtly preachy as the tracks that sandwich it-- the star-studded "God Bless America," and the well-trodden territory covered in the rallying anthem "No Time is Better."
Even the applause-worthy messages of these songs wind up getting downplayed, sharing verse-vacancy with cocky bars, like, for example, on "Train Your Mind," where Dizzy attempts to take onus for molding rap culture and the community before putting himself on a pedestal, saying: "But I'm here to shape society / You couldn't even envision what I'm tryna be / I'm next level with it / Thank you Funk Volume for signing me to come get it."
For years, Dizzy has been compared to the rap group he (literally) grew up with, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Although, aside from their shared penchant for THC, it was a comparison we never fully bought into. On The Growing Process, there are times when Wright gives this comparison a bit more validity ("Smoke You Out"). The sound is most prevalent, unsurprisingly, on the songs that actually feature Bone Thugs. While it may be nice to keep it in the family, with Wright's uncle Layzie Bone delivering a track that's perfectly serviceable, by the end of the record it's forgotten in favor of other tracks and thus, a bit erroneous. With the two Bone features coming back to back, a little more dynamism would have gone a long way for this listener.
Just when the fear of redundancy starts to creep in, Dizzy is able to maneuver away from the general young emcee angst that plagues so many sophomore efforts. Instead of dedicating an overt amount of album space to self-back-patting, the Vegas native embeds The Growing Process' roots in its first couple of tracks before letting the album dissolve into the cannabis-ridden rap music that has gotten him this far. "Good Vibes" offers a perfect example of the dichotomy between the thoughtful and debaucherous emcee that The Growing Process needs more of. The funky beat serves as a snappy ear worm of a score to a song that, lyrically, imbibes in the recklessness of youth (which always produces a fun sound), while not abandoning the power of positive energy.
It's ironic that all the reflection and contemplation of self that is weaved throughout The Growing Process winds up getting overshadowed by the groovier, catchier, and banger-type tracks in terms of quality. It feels like the more fun the track, the more gratifying the listen. Producers Louie Haze and Roc N Mayne prove to be quite the one-two punch combination on "Floyd Money Mayweather," the second single off of The Growing Process. Dropped amidst the global craze leading up to the ultimately disappointing Mayweather/Pacquiao bout, the track proves to be more hard-hitting than its eponymous boxer's biggest fight wound up being. It is the most complete song on the album, though it's the only one of its kind.
The Growing Process is just that-- a display of growth that echoes both the pains and the pleasures of adolescence-- the age group Dizzy speaks to on much of the album. The opening verse in the album's intro, "Higher Learning," forewarns the listener of the goals at play:
"When these kids say 'fuck a message, we just wanna have fun'
Now I move to the beat that confused me for weeks
While ya’ll hands high, my head high like hold on nigga you lost me
Then I looked at my Youtube views, and I got salty
Cause I realised my real shit don’t get that much love
I see exactly how ya’ll do ya’ll favourite rappers
Favorite musicians, athletes, actress, actors."
On the album's conclusion, "Will It Last" Dizzy tells it like it is once again, saying, "Haters hate but they standards low / I'm just trying to balance out what I'm rapping about."
So, this is the growing Dizzy Wright. Will it last? Time will tell, but The Growing Process is a good enough statement of permanent hip-hop residency that will provide Wright the forum to continue exploring himself and his sound for years to come.