Wiz Khalifa talks Taylor Gang growth, compares Amber to Tupac
Wiz Khalifa had a pretty damn good year.
2011 saw the Pittsburgh rapper with a constant stream of achievements. His single “Black And Yellow” hit number 1 and became the theme song of his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. His album Rolling Papers rang up 197,000 sales in its debut week. He’s sold out tours and finished up the year with 2 Grammy nods. Now he’s teaming up with friend and mentor Snoop Dogg for “Mac And Devin Go To High School”, a new stoner comedy. Their joint album serves as the film’s soundtrack and has already generated a number one hit with “Young, Wild & Free”.
And 2012 looks like it will be pretty packed as well. While prepping his new album, he’s getting his team ready for their time in the spotlight. With the rising star of Taylor Gang member Chevy Woods and new members, rapper/former video model Lola Monroe and 3-6 Mafia founder Juicy J, Wiz is building the foundation of a happy new year. On the way to rock at Jingle Jam in Hartford, CT, he spoke about his accolades, if the people still want feel good music in serious times and getting into the movie game.
Wiz Khalifa: How you doing?
G. Valentino Ball: Not as good as you. You have a Grammy nod. How’s that feel? Wiz Khalifa: I got two. (Laughs)
G. Valentino Ball: Ok so how does it feel to have two?
Wiz Khalifa: It feels double as good as it would to have one. (Laughs) Way better than having none. It’s pretty awesome. I work pretty hard. So to be recognized on that level is a beautiful thing.
G. Valentino Ball: Last time we talked was right after you dropped the album. What did you learn through the process of putting it out?
Wiz Khalifa: I just picked up on how to make things work more in my favor. Nothing really has changed. As time goes on artists should hope to get better and move to the next level of their careers. That’s what I have done. Things that feel like they are the next step. And always making sure that everyone that works with me is happy.
G. Valentino Ball: Speaking of people you work with seems like Taylor Gang is starting to grow. What do you have planned for Taylor Gang in 2012?
Wiz Khalifa: People will see that as we go. I will speak on it more later. I think people are kind of seeing what I’m doing. I’m just excited that everyone else is excited.
G. Valentino Ball: You just added Juicy J and Lola Monroe to Taylor Gang.
Wiz Khalifa: Along with my artist Chevy Woods. He has been opening up for me. He’s about to go on his own tour. Its exciting to see my artists who have their own fanbase and people are excited for them as well as being excited that they are a part of my brand.
G Valentino Ball: How was it to work on Mac And Devin with Snoop?
Wiz Khalifa: It’s a dream come true to be able to work with Snoop. It just came together so naturally. We just came together and kicked it. He had a bond and companionship with me that he hasn’t felt with any other artist. For me looking up to Snoop and idolizing him…It’s like your OG just saying “Yeah you can come hang out with me.” It worked for both of us. We’re both inspired by each other. We wanted to do the movie and the soundtrack to so that everyone else could have as much fun as we do.
G. Valentino Ball: You already have “Young, Wild And Free” with Bruno Mars as a top ten record off the soundtrack. People seem excited for it.
Wiz Khalifa: It’s exciting for me and really natural. Even if the record wasn’t in the top ten with radio play and a video, I think the people that we are trying to reach out to and entertain they’re getting it. They are excited about it as well as the people who wouldn’t normally be excited about this type of thing. It’s a win-win.
Young, Wild & Free
G. Valentino Ball: In the movie your character comes out of his shell. Does that mimc your real life?
Wiz Khalifa: Not really (Laughs) I think people get to know me more for me. I’ve always been an individual and known who I was. I think the movie shows a different side of me though. It shows the less flashy side. It still shows the pothead side. (Laughs). But you get the less braggadocios side. The calm me that I really was in high school. Not as nerdy or dorky. I’m pretty serious. I’m an intelligent guy. I get to show that I can really speak.
G. Valentino Ball: With the serious tone that we have been seeing in the world lately like with the Occupy Wall Street movement, do you think there is room for that fun vibe?
Wiz Khalifa: Absolutely. At the end of the day people want to be able to experience everything. You can’t just wake up and be business all day. You can’t be rock and roll all day either. You have to slow it down and take it to different zones.
G. Valentino Ball: But with a name like Wiz Khalifa, is there ever going to be a time when we see that more serious side to you and your music?
Wiz Khalifa: If it effects more of my personal life and I really feel it that it will naturally flow into my music. But really I’m about smoking weed & partying and taking care of my business. Making sure my family is straight. So that’s what you get from my music.
G. Valentino Ball: Word is out that Amber is working on her album.
Wiz Khalifa: And its going great too. The producers that she is working with are super tight. She is writing a lot of it but she has some writers helping her with concepts and to come up with different things. The whole energy is crazy. It’s a dope spin of on what people may think is just a surface thing. Its way deeper than that. I’m a fan of her music and what she is doing. I love it.
G. Valentino Ball: She talked about how encouraging you were. Is it easy for you to share that spotlight?
Wiz Khalifa: Absolutely because she is a genius. Just the stuff that comes up with and the stuff that she wants to get out to the world. I told her the other day when she was working, “You’re like Tupac.” Like straight up. She is so real and so raw with it. But then she comes with a worldy vibe. I got to the studio and sit in there for hours if I don’t have a session. And I tried to get my sessions close to her when I was in NY so we could just share a vibe. I’m just a huge fan it so I want to be around. She loves having me there. She’s a beast.