Wiz Khalifa: Still an Outsider

Wiz Khalifa

Since the release of his debut album Show and Prove in 2006, Wiz Khalifa hasn’t been one to color within the black and yellow lines. His musical style remains unpredictable, the vocals alternating between singing and rapping, sometimes pulling on Eurodance influences while tracks like the recent “We Dem Boyz” veer closer to a merger of pure hip-hop and trap with a club-ready vigor. His torso and arms are wholly coated with tattoos, displaying years’ worth of stories and symbolism that add even more transparency and candidness to the artist’s intimate album cover. He speaks openly about his love of weed, as well as his family life (including wife Amber Rose, originally of Kanye West fame). We spoke with the rapper about his fifth studio album, Blacc Hollywood, due out tomorrow, August 19th.

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“I still think the main thing in my career… is overcoming people and the way they try to block my vision or stunt my growth with their own ideas and what they feel like,” he replies when asked about difficulties he’s faced. “I value opinions and I’m loyal. A lot of the time that can get in the way of the original idea.”

His appreciation of others’ artistry extends beyond that of those playing within the hip-hop realm; he’s mentioned a desire to work with Lady Gaga, revealing, “I just really respect her craft and what she does, and her loyal fan base.” That said, artists to be featured on the new album include Nicki Minaj, Curren$y, Ty Dolla $ign, Juicy J, and Young Jeezy. Despite smoking “a ton” of weed with Miley Cyrus and talking about a possible collaboration for the new album, Khalifa tells us “she didn’t end up making it on there.”

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To overcome the excess of opinion that goes into creating an album for an artist as influential as Khalifa, the rapper relies on his strong sense of confidence. “I came from a world where everyone doesn’t understand me right away but it pays off later,” he says. This sense of conviction is not undeserved; Khalifa been signed to two major record labels, charted numerous tracks, sold out entire tours, and been nominated for five Grammy awards, among another milestones. When battling pressure from record executives, collaborators, fans and the media, Khalifa says, “having that confidence, you know, that really helps me move forward. When I don’t have that, it’s a weird place for me.”

Though his family, which now includes one-and-a-half year old son Sebastian Taylor Thomaz, has changed significantly since the start of his career and surely plays a big roll outside of the studio, they haven’t had an overwhelming effect on Khalifa’s work.

“Honestly, the music is pretty much still the same. My message is directed to people who can understand and know what I’m talking about.” This message has everything to do with being alienated from the rest of the world, a feeling Khalifa connects to strongly. “The name of the album is just basically the attitude towards my generation and our culture and just how we’re looked at. It doesn’t matter how far you get in life or where you come from. We’re always going to be the same outsiders.” In an attempt to rid any possibility of this message seeming racially focused, Khalifa changed the “ck” in black to his own spelling, thus broadening the message to anyone who shares this feeling.

When describing Blacc Hollywood as a whole, he says, “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better than anything. I just feel like the message is really relevant right now.” This approach stems perhaps from the previously mentioned self-assurance, showing that Khalifa is a unique player in the music industry, focusing more on fulfilling artistic ambition than surpassing previous successes, or the expectations of others. He seems unfazed by any possibility of failure, assuring us, “I already know what I’m capable of doing.”

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Want more music? Check out this interview with Fifth Harmony, then click over to see our shoot with Jacob Latimore.

Photos courtesy of Wiz Khalifa

Afternoon Links: Wiz and Amber Get Engaged, Justin Bieber Buys Two New Mansions

● Congratulations to Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose on their engagementt! May there be duets and drama ’til death do you part. [JustJared]

● The new Muppets movie will have to go on without Jason Segel, who says he just won’t have time to pen the sequel. [Vulture]

The $100,000 electric car was just a warm up: TMZ reports that Justin Bieber is ringing in his 18th year with a skydiving trip, a big party, and by signing the lease on two new homes — one for himself and one for his mom. Aww! [TMZ]

2Pac: The Musical is an actual thing that they are actually casting for. [BV]

● Zac Efron came clean to Matt Lauer this morning about that shiny gold-foilded thing that fell from his pocket on the Lorax red carpet. "I did, I did," he confirmed. "I never really had a pocket-checking policy prior to going onto the red carpet before, but now we’ve fully instated one." [PageSix]

● This story about Tyga being held at gunpoint and made to dance to his own "Rack City" has, in all likelihood, been exaggerated. It’s too good not to share, though. [TaleTela]

Snoop & Wiz Are New Cheech & Chong

The headline isn’t quite literal, but it’s close enough: rappers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa are definitely still filming a stoner comedy Mac and Devin Go to High School, tentatively out in early 2012. Snoop’s a pothead of the old school, Wiz is a pothead of the new order. If you squint your eyes and do a snow angel in a beanie bag, it makes too much sense.They’ll also do the movie’s soundtrack, the quickest 12 tracks of marijuana homage either of the rappers will have ever recorded. 

As the Associated Press reports (seriously?), the duo hope their film will be the closest thing to a modern day Cheech and Chong. "They smoked joints, they were funny, they were cool and they would get into real situations," Snoop said. "To me, that’s what me and Wiz represent. A lot of kids growing up don’t understand who Cheech and Chong are. So we’re the modern-day image of them. We’re bringing it back."

Now that the Harold and Kumar series seems temporarily over, the stoner movie market is wide open. Production on High School has seen its troubles; as the AP notes, filming was shut down at Mira Costa High School back in May after school officials figured out just exactly what was going on. Fortunately(?), the issue’s all taken care of. Below, you can listen to "Young, Wild & Free," the first song off the soundtrack. (Bruno Mars is also in it, so get excited.)

Morning Links: Gucci Mane Goes Back to Jail, Anderson Cooper Gets Spray Tanned

● The new Breaking Dawn trailer makes vampire pregnancy look terrible. Otherwise, there’s weddings and wedding nights and Edward saying, “Last night was the best night of my existence.” [LAT] ● Gucci Mane is in jail again, this time serving six-months for that time he pushed a woman out of his car last January. Burr? [Rap-Up] ● Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose went to Las Vegas and didn’t even get married. “We’re just gonna do what’s natural,” Khalifa said. [NYDN]

● Anderson Cooper’s daytime show looks so fun. Yesterday, he got spray tanned by an expert: Snooki! [Gawker] ● Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are extending their brand and teaming up with cute rubber-soled sneaker company Superga. [Us] ● Lil Wayne is not feeling much love from the current crop of GOP-ers. “You have to make the most of who you are because the Republicans are never going to like us,” he says, sounding almost libertarian. [Vibe]

Reasons to Go to Rock The Bells 2011

The lineup for this year’s Rock the Bells concert series is here, and it’s manna for hip hop fans! How often do you get to see Nas, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu (and many more!) on the same day? But there’s a big downside, and it’s this: Governor’s Island. New York’s most contested mound of goose poop is a hellhole in the summer heat and annoying to get to. Plus, four stages means a lot of the good acts will be going on at the same time. Click through for the reasons you should still go:

The New York date for Rock the Bells is September 3rd. Pre-sale tickets go on sale on June 3rd, and the rest on June 4th. Another option, for those of you willing to travel to Philly, is the Roots Picnic on June 4th. Headlining are The Roots, Nas, and Wiz Khalifa. It seems a bit smaller and more manageable (and I’d daresay cheaper). Here’s the Governor’s Island lineup:

• Nas • Lauryn Hill • Erykah Badu (see her! I beseech everyone to see her live at least once. When I saw her in Chicago, she had a foot-tall blond mohawk and did an extended acid-jazz version of “Appletree.”) • Mos Def and Talib Kweli • Raekwon and Ghostface Killah • Souls of Mischief • Mac Miller • Curren$y • Blu • Cypress Hill • Childish Gambino • Big K.R.I.T. • Immortal Technique • Freddie Gibbs • Murs

Jennifer Aniston Buys Dog House for $5 Million, Amber Rose Says Wiz Khalifa Better BF Than Kanye

● Lindsay’s latest court caper racked up a $135,000 price tag. That’d be $132,500 more than the necklace she stole. [Radar] ● Jennifer Aniston bought a $4.95 million penthouse in the West Village in the name of her depressed dog, Norman. Hopefully they can both find happiness there. [NYP] ● Ivana Trump doesn’t seem sure about her ex-husband’s proposed presidential run. “It would be terrible for us if he ran. It would be a disaster,” she reportedly said. [GateCrasher/NYDN]

● Amber Rose wants to clear things up: “You know when people say how do you go from Kanye to Wiz Khalifa, that’s a downgrade. But the only question I can ask them is: have you ever dated Kanye? Because I have, and believe me, I did not downgrade at all. Not in any aspect, at all.” Get it, girl. [King] ● Along with kale and mint, Gwyneth Paltrow is growing salvia. Not that kind of salvia. Just plain, non-hallucenagenic salvia officinalis, aka: sage. [GossipCop] ● Beyoncé has named her next album 4. Just 4. Because it’s her fourth album. But also because, “We all have special numbers in our lives, and four is that for me.” Special like her birthday (September 4), like her mother’s birthday (January 4), and like her wedding date (April 4). [Billboard]

Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Taylor Gang’ is a Bit Early for 4/20

If you’ve ever wondered what Wiz Khalifa does in his downtime, his previous video “Roll Up” doesn’t capture it quite as well as his latest, “Taylor Gang,” does. But if you know anything about him at all (he’s filming an upcoming stoner comedy with Snoop Dogg and starts each morning with a wake n’ bake routine) then you can probably anticipate what you’re about to see. “Taylor Gang” didn’t make the cut for his Rolling Papers album, but he released the visuals for it anyway. It’s just too bad that he didn’t save this one for 4/20.

This is how Wiz gets down with his Pittsburgh crew now….

This is how Wiz got down with his Pittsburgh crew back then….

Did Wiz Khalifa Really Get a Tattoo of Amber Rose’s Name?

According to photographic evidence, the answer appears to be yes. There are also reports that Wiz wants to put a ring on it, but let’s ignore premature rumors for now and focus on the issue at, well, hand. Our favorite stoner rapper (sorry, Cudi) and Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend have already made their new relationship quite public, but apparently Wiz wanted to make it super official by tattooing “Amb” across his thumb.

Sure, it’s not an ice-cream face tattoo, a Facebook “Like” tattoo, or a full-frontal tattoo of your ex-wife, but still: We advise against it. The good news, however, is that when you’re already covered in tattoos from head to toe, a three letter monogram is barely distinguishable should you happen to break up.

Fun fact: Wiz also has his own name tattooed on his body!

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Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Collaborating on Stoner Comedy

Great news for fans of hip hop and pot: Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa are going to star in a stoner comedy together. It’s called High School (get it?) and it’s going to just be about them smoking weed and rapping. Wiz told Rolling Stone, “It’s about pot, of course. But it’s about mine and his relationship. A spin-off of us being cool in the industry, smoking a lot of weed, being around a lot of weed. We’re going to try to have fun with it and also try to enlighten people at the same time, not just get everybody high.” Sounds meticulously plotted!

But can they top How High, Method Man and Redman’s definitive rap stoner movie from 2001? That would be tough — How High is a classic, and one of the silliest movies I’ve ever seen. Also: how will Wiz and Snoop “enlighten people”? Whatever. We’re all going to see it.

The truly exciting part of all this is that they’re doing the soundtrack together. There’s no way that won’t be great — a full-length album by two talented rappers from the older generation and the new. Here’s Wiz talking to Rolling Stone about his new cinematic foray: