Written by DeRa Brinson
This Sonic Breakdown features Dizzy Wright’s studio debut album, The Growing Process. This is the first album that I have heard of his. We will follow the usual format of breaking down each song followed by a conclusion of the album as a whole.
“Higher Learning (Intro)”
A Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge” type of sound is used for the production. A guitar playing with another guitar contributing an accompanied chord is central to the production and allows the lyrics to be highlighted, with the bass adding depth to the atmosphere. Dizzy has a frustrated feeling in his delivery. He is frustrated with the way society feeds off of negativity and wanting to see celebrities fall from grace. He is also perturbed by music fans ignoring the messages in songs and preferring songs that inspire having fun over pushing for social growth. Wright also makes it clear he isn’t perfect, but that is acceptable because we are all imperfect. This sentiment is expressed through the line, “It’s unrealistic to think that one day we won’t make a mistake.” The intro and outro feature a sweet, smooth female singer that is calmly reassuring the audience is not just hearing his message but actively listening to his message.
“God Bless America”
This is a simplistic sounding production similar in pace to the previous track but with a slightly more introspective feel. Wright is using a fast Busy Bones-like flow but is still clear enough to catch every word. The chorus is even more sultry and breathy with Chel’le singing it. The chorus is uplifting in manner by insinuating that we are kings and queens that can and will triumph if trust is found, alluding to trust from our government and society to do what is right and de-emphasizing the grasp money has on us. In the first verse, Dizzy unveils lessons he learned growing up with a single mom and wanting a father figure, but on his terms. As a man who grew up without a father, I can relate to the ideology of wanting one but rejecting the men my mother introduced to my brother and me, believing we all deserved better than the options presented. This was extremely selfish on my part because my mother deserved someone to make her happy even if we had to compromise on our preferences a little. Big K.R.IT is on the second verse and instantly catches my attention with the line, “Who you more like? Malcolm or Martin?” This is so attention-grabbing because of the hostile climate society is still in due to racial discrimination and the frustration and sadness the black community feels as peaceful protests aren’t changing matters and violent riots aren’t either, so what is the proper course for recall or reconciliation? This sadness is heard in his tone, and his country accent adds a dimension to the lyrics, giving ties to the South, where slavery was most rampant and discrimination is still the most prevalent. He ends the verse by stressing the need to make a change through voting and being active in government and changing policy. Tech N9ne is on the third verse, continuing the rapid word delivery with his signature aggression. He ends his verse with a glimpse of hope for the youth that it is possible to make a better future by working hard, sticking to your convictions, and using positive affirmation as seen in the line, “’Cause I simply thought my way onto the Forbes list.”
“Can I Feel This Way”
A slow, smooth jazz mixed with an old-school R & B song is the sound presented due to the piano with a synthesizer beginning the song. When the bass kicks in, the sound’s momentum is pushed to a more trippy or cloud rap groove. Dizzy is again questioning if he can emote his feelings through music that will cause the listeners to become more productive and inspired. This is something that is important to him, wanting to do more than just rapping to rap but to have an influence, making a mark on the world for the better.
“No Time Is Better”
A more upbeat feeling is expressed through the production. It has an uplifting spirit that is amplified by Irv Da Phenom singing the chorus. He adds more soul to the track as Dizzy’s voice has a melodic tone that complements the song without sounding as if he is singing. Wright is preaching that we all, including himself, should do something for the better now instead of waiting for someone else or procrastinating. The saying “Why do tomorrow what can be done today?” encompasses the theme of the song. This has a positive tone reminiscent to several uplifting songs from Tupac Shakur. Irv Da Phenom finishes the song by singing the chorus, ending with hope and a sense of purpose.
“Train Your Mind”
This has a darker vibe with an East Coast-sounding production. Dizzy reminds me of DMX by how he navigates through the song. This song gives me the imagery of riding on the subway in NY or BART in Oakland, trying to figure a way to improve your situation. He expresses how he is focused on improving his situation, spreading empowerment and positive energy. He also explains that this isn’t a fad for him but something ingrained in him, and this is shown through the line, “Spreading positivity and empowerment, doing this way before Kendrick started rapping about lacking confidence.” The song ends as if a record was slowly stopping.
This track features Layzie Bone from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. The production is suited perfectly for the feature as it sounds like something from one of BTNH’s previous songs. This is amplified by the harmonizing in the beginning and the chorus. Layzie Bones has a nice verse that continues the nostalgic feeling, reminding you of the impact that group had on hip-hop.
“Don’t Ever Forget”
Another BTNH alum is featured here, Krayzie Bone this time, with a slower, more drug-induced atmosphere. The flow used by both artists has a drowsy, high quality, propelling the stoner groove further.
“Floyd Money Mayweather”
The most trap sounding song on the album. This is the braggadocio or hubris song. There are sections with ad-libs that sound like Schoolboy Q going “Knock, knock” that adds to the gangsta cockiness. The title makes sense because Floyd is the most cocky, arrogant person in the public eye that I can think of that so far has backed it up.
“Smoke You Out”
A lighter, playful beat is used with a catchy chorus. Dizzy rides over the production in an airy tone. The concept of the song is being generous for the sake of being generous and not looking for something in return. Mod Sun has a nice, interesting cadence in the second verse, carrying the marijuana culture into the chorus.
This sounds like a 90s cleaned-up production of an old-school band because of the drums that combine with a Beastie Boys, futuristic sound. Wright pushes positivity in a celebratory way that leaves the listener feeling the chorus and having good vibes. The DJ scratching at the end of the track brings back the memory of the happy feelings expressed in the early days of hip-hop.
“I Can Tell You Needed It”
This has a Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa vibe in that it definitely illuminates the drugged-like and smooth aura. Dizzy shows his generous nature and willingness to help people in situations through the lyrics.
“Smoke Box (Interlude)”
A heavy, ominous bass line and rapid drum kicks as Dizzy explains what a smoke box, commonly referred to as hotboxing, is and what is associated with it.
The marching theme states I can do what I have to without answering to anyone. Each verse is more aggressive than the previous one. Funky Volume label artists SwizZz, Jarren Benton, and Hopsin are featured here. All four artists touch on the theme of not changing to appease others or the industry because they don’t want to or need to.
This begins with an organ and a sharp horn that later turns into a smooth, low-key sound. Dizzy is expressing how he wants his music to take people into another world that feels as real as if they live in it because his lyrics deal with real issues. He points out how black unity will help our communities, which is similar to sentiments Kendrick shares.
“Daddy Daughter Relationship”
This is a tribute to his daughter that begins with Wright explaining different aspects of the studio to her. Different clips of Zana’s conversation with Dizzy highlight the type of relationship they have and that he wants to continue to have. He also talks to her about and prepares her for a little brother coming soon. It is continuing the connection that is portrayed in this track. This song doesn’t really resonate with me due to the fact that I don’t have any children of my own, but I can appreciate the concept and execution.
“Will It Last”
A chill vibe with a jazz poetry atmosphere can be felt. The piano and guitar carry the jazz feel while the finger snapping adds to the poetry aspect. Njomza has a beautiful voice that adds to the production’s smoothness with a hint of sultriness but still keeping it light. Dizzy finishes the album by questioning if this positivity will last and how he plans to ensure that it will. This is a great way to finish the album.
It is a good debut album for me. I feel as though I have a good idea of what type of man Dizzy Wright is and what his values are. He seems to be a positive person that has seen and done some things that go against positivity, but he wants to do right for himself and the people he cares about as well as society. His musical influences can be heard through his production choices and featured artists. The album has a really strong start with the first two songs and has a nice track to close the album. The main themes of positivity, empowerment, and striving to be better is presented all through the album. It has a nice mix of heavy, deeper tracks and lighter tracks to provide balance. Dom Kennedy’s album By Dom Kennedy will be the next Breakdown.