Off to See the Wiz
“I’m very excited about the chronic,” says rapper Wiz Khalifa about his upcoming trip to Honolulu for a show at the Blaisdell. With an album named Rolling Papers out earlier this year on Atlantic Records, the Pittsburgh-raised military brat is not kidding about his love for the green. But Khalifa (born Cameron Jibril Thomaz) is not the slacker-type of pothead. He began rapping in the second grade and started recording music professionally in high school. And at his still-young 24 years of age, he has already made the journey from major label to indie label and back again to another major label. He’s put the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene on the map with his Pittsburgh Steelers team tribute “Black & Yellow”, and ranges musically from sampling the trance-y Alice Deejay (“Say Yeah”) to the blending of Midwest and Southern hip-hop styles.
After this success, Khalifa still talks about “taking it to the next level.” How? “I have my own artists now,” he says. “I’m starting a label. I’m going to push them to do things, working on other projects, getting their merch popping.” This is at the same time that he’s working on his second album. “Building up a new creative catalog is [an] art form in itself,” he adds.
The “Wiz” in Khalifa’s stage name stands for “wisdom.” “Khalifa” is an Arabic word used in the Muslim tradition that roughly translates to “one who succeeds.” Khalifa’s grandfather gave him this nickname and it seems this rapper has been living out the meaning of his name–at least as far as music careers go. “My dad keeps me level-headed and focused on business, but I naturally have a good sense of what to do and what not to do…staying sensitive and attentive,” he says of an industry that can destroy those who fall prey to the glitz.
Aside from his affinity for the kush, the Wiz is also known for his love of tattoos. His next one? “I’m gonna get ‘badass’ on my face.” When asked why, he says he’s stating “just the obvious,” with a laugh. With a career that’s lit up as hot as his blunts, Khalifa can probably back that statement up.