For an artist who didn’t release an album in 2013, Wiz Khalifa doesn’t have to worry about catching up this year. While other rappers would have languidly taken the year off after getting married and having a child, Wiz singlehandedly ousted any ounce of doubt with memorable guest appearances. He teased fans with head bopping verses on Juicy J’s “Bounce It” Remix, teamed up with super extravagant producer Mike WiLL Made It in paying homage to the beloved Michael Jordan with their single “23,” and he even had time to have fun on Will I Am’s “Feelin’ Myself.” He upped the ante even more by collaborating with his old buddy Curren$y and delivered a joint EP entitled Live in Concert.
With an unimpeachable resume ranging from his classic mixtape Kush and Orange Juice to his major label debut Rolling Papers eclipsing the 500,000 mark; Wiz has cemented himself among the upper echelon of hip-hop. He continued to steamroll his way into mainstream prominence by churning out hits on his sophomore endeavor ONIFC with songs like “Work Hard, Play Hard,” and “Remember You.” While many artists struggle with relevancy and sustaining the juice needed to survive, Wiz is sailing just fine. Even though he already has five top 10 records under his belt, Wiz Khalifa is still cultivating ways to shift the culture with his third album Blacc Hollywood – slated for next year.
Now that 2013 is winding down, an ardent and rejuvenated Wiz reveals to Pepsi Pulse why his album Blacc Hollywood will be his best project to date, what makes Miley Cyrus dope, experimentation with EDM, regaining his passion for music, and why he dreams of doing of a collaborative EP with the late James Brown.
You went from mixtape artist, to XXL freshman, to now being a mainstream superstar. How has that transition been for you?
It’s been really good. It’s definitely been like a journey, you know what I’m sayin’? As far as just knowing where I came from and knowing the possibilities of where to go and not being scared to really take it there and not letting certain limitations not hold me back. [Also], just being really responsible as an artist to take it to that next level and just be the best.
This year, you’ve been having a lot of fun doing features as you’ve been featured on tracks with Jhene Aiko, Juicy J, Miley Cyrus and more. Which track or verse that you’ve done this year would you label as your favorite and why?
Honestly I’ve enjoyed all of them because they’re all unique and all special. Each experience was like – you know – something where I kind of went out of my way and was like, “Aight. I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna make sure that it lands and that it’s something that sticks.” You know, just the fact that people are excited about it and that I’m all over the place and I’m able to go different places and be around different people who hear my song or hear me with different people is amazing.
Has your mentality and outlook towards music changed since you’ve become a husband and a father?
Nah. I wouldn’t say my mentality changed. If anything, being a father helped me go back to my original inspirations and what really really made me fall in love with music. You know, music is really important to a baby as well. I just always make sure I’m playing music in the house or I’m working on my music. You know, kids love singing songs, so I sing to my son all the time. It’s weird but it helps me write music. Everything is really rejuvenating [my love for music]. I’m kind of taking a newer and younger approach to it even though I’m already young. I’ve been rejuvenated by my son.
So would you say for your new album Blacc Hollywood that you’re taking a deeper and more introspective approach because of these things you just mentioned?
I wouldn’t say it’s deeper. I’m in the process of creating a lot of it right now. I’m in different zones. So one day I might feel like this and another day I might feel like that. But in general, the album is really fun and anthemic to the point where any song that you turn on, it’ll be that anthem to that point in your life. It’s a whole lot of swag, a whole lot of lyricism, a whole lot of wittiness and cleverness that people really know me for and just making my stamp that people always expect from me.
Looking back at your last album OFINC now, would you have made any substantial changes production wise or song wise or do you feel it was perfect the way it came out?
I would have done the album exactly the way that I did just because you never really know what you can get until you tried to do a more conceptual album or more self-contained album that you believe in or something that you’re really comfortable making at that time. Me as an artist, when I was working on ONIFC, I wasn’t really listening to too much radio. There weren’t really too much outside influences, so that was just a reflection of me and where I was at that time. So I’m 100% happy with it. And moving forward, the new people that I meet and the new methods that I learn, that’s what’s going to be expressed in my most recent music.
Explain your working relationship with Miley Cyrus because a lot of people were originally thrown off by the collaboration and the correlation between you two musically. What made you decide to work with her?
It’s cool because we’re super like-minded in a sense that we don’t care about what people think. You know what I mean? She’s from the country and that’s not where I’m from but her energy is insane. She puts that out there to the world. I’m a rapper, but I have a family. I’m from Pittsburgh, and my methods aren’t really known or accepted. People embrace me for who I am. So just having that kindred spirit, that’s what brings us together. And, on top of that, she’s super-duper talented man. She can sing her butt off. She can write and she has great ideas. So you can’t hold that type of person back. You know, I think when we get together we just bring the best out of each other.
Outside of Hip-Hop, while working on your new album Blacc Hollywood, have you found inspirations in other genres or from any artists in particular?
Well I’ve been looking at all the different scenes and seeing everybody who’s coming up and seeing who’s been popping in the EDM scene. The EDM scene is definitely an influence because I love to party and that’s what kids are partying to. So just to see people getting so excited about a genre of music or a certain handful of artists who control the music whether it’s like Afrojack or Steve Aoki or whoever it is. Or even underground cats. My little sister, she be putting me on all them dudes.
Man, it’s just exciting to see brand new work come out and me not really know about it but start to learn about it. I feel like an old man and that kind of like rejuvenates me as well because coming up from being a teen, I was so used to being ahead of the curve and on top of everything brand new. Now I got my little sister and brother in law and they have been really showing me what’s popping and what’s brand new. So that’s what keeps me going as well.
Aside from yourself, who do you think will have the best album of 2014 and why?
Oh I’m going to have the best album for sure. I’m going to have the best album and the most impactful album of 2014.
Are you saying this album is going to trump OFINC and Rolling Papers?
Definitely, definitely. It’s going to be better than Kush and Orange Juice.
Wow. That’s a bold statement right there. (Laughs)
Yeah I mean a lot of people think it’s hard to top your first initial burst onto the scene classic. But with so many expectations, so much love, and so much support for the movement, it’ll only make it better. It’ll only make the buildup more of an event. So I could use that as an advantage and just kill it.
You’ve worked with a number of artists of different genres, so I pose you this question: If you can choose one person to do an EP with –it could be anybody – who would it be and why?