wizkhalifa.jpgFor the past few years, Pittsburgh’s Wiz Khalifa has been picking up steam in his hometown. Thanks to his crafty lyrics and suave demeanor, displayed on his Prince of the City (2006) and Show and Prove (2007) mixtapes, the 19-year-old is finally making some national headway. With DJ Green Lantern riding shotgun on his latest, Grow Season, Wiz pleads his case for being hip-hop’s next golden child.

With an arsenal of intricate rhymes and wordplay, Wiz goes in on the smooth “Grow,” spittin’, “I’m the best that did it and the best that still doing it/Prince of the city, I’m showin’ and pr-provin’ it… They said reach for the stars, I hit Jupiter.” In an effort to further demonstrate his vocal versatility, he applies a slow Southern drawl on “Talk to Me,” but only succeeds in proving that imitation isn’t always the best form of flattery. The drowsy DJ Drama bite “Fans Takin’ Pictures” hammers the point home even further.

Fortunately, Wiz doesn’t lose his entire swagger, as he skillfully flips a Three 6 Mafia track into “Young Boy Fresh.” Then he goes for the kill on the energetic “I’m That Nigga,” boastin’, “We in the money race/And me, I’m gonna chase it/We done made it to the top floor from the basement.” Despite his high hopes, Wiz limits himself to rehashed beats and the same subject matter as any other rapper, ultimately stunting his artistic growth. —OMAR MAZARIEGO