Wiz Khalifa on Becoming a Daddy: "It's Made Me Calm Down a Bunch of Notches"
When Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa released the song "Black and Yellow" two years ago, he and his team figured at most, it would be a regional hit. Instead, it ricocheted the artist to mainstream pop stardom.
Ever since, he's been walking a tightrope. Khalifa toured relentlessly for a couple years as an indie artist, building an army of fans he calls the Taylor Gang. The devotees were less than pleased when Rolling Papers, his debut studio album on Atlantic, was studded with bubblegum ditties. He became tabloid fodder when he began dating his now-pregnant fiancé, Amber Rose, and the ranks grumbled even louder when his style shifted from collegiate stoner to luxe jetsetter.
But Khalifa wrote an Tumblr note admitting Rolling Papers wasn't his best work and promised his sophomore album, O.N.I.F.C. (or, Only Nigga in First Class, due out in December), would be "for people who live like us and can relate." We caught up with him before he plays tonight at Gibson Amphitheatre.
I heard you recently made eight songs in one day.
[Laughs] Yeahhh, I record a lot. Sometimes I just get really motivated and then I just keep going. If I have a lot of really great beats, I'll just spend some time in there and knock it out till I feel like I'm done.
Doesn't that schedule just get exhausting?
Nah, you just gotta do stuff to keep yourself motivated. I smoke a lot, so that helps me. And I always have my friends around, too, so we crack jokes and laugh and talk about other things, which translates into the music. It's just living it and making it real.
Regarding friends, you and Curren$y have become this "how-to" model for a generation of new rappers. How would you break down your strategy?
Man. I'd say it was just knowing which people to keep in my corner. I meet a lot of people and I'm cool with everybody. But I don't treat everybody ... I can't do as much business with everybody, you know what I'm saying? There's just working relationships and then the people I really trust who are my friends. Keeping the separation between that, and then really living what I talk about and what I do. Not just saying what sounds cool. Even talking about something I want to achieve or want to get to. That's just me writing my goals down. It gives the fans something to look up to, because I always want to do bigger and better.
Being so young when you first started, you had to develop that business mentality.
Yeah, [I learned] by trial. And I learned a lot from the people I'm around. We all have different positions and roles, but at the end of the day, it's about the bigger picture. And it's bigger than just rapping and looking cool, it's about the brand and lifestyle and really getting people to think and carry themselves a certain way.
You have a willingness to be open and spread good energy instead of projecting this image of being really tough and too cool.
You get more freedom that way. You don't have to clear anything up in the end. Everybody knows exactly what they're getting.