Rollin' On

Rollin' On Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa, the industrious rapper who owns his own record label and has dropped 14 albums and mixtapes over the last eight years. Did you always envision yourself to go this big?
I always new I wanted to be doing what I do, but you never know before you get there. And my fans really took it to that next level. I don’t know if it was anything necessarily different. I just worked really, really hard to stay in people’s faces, so it would be hard to forget about me. I’m just trying to stay popular and do the same thing over and over. I think that consistency makes what I do gravitate towards becoming a movement. Honestly, I’m just consumed by the work. Every day, I’m trying to come up with new stuff and do new things. I don’t ake time off. I’m always recording and working on my brand beyond just the music. I just try to keep that connection to normalcy. I never want to lose that, being normal. People connect with me just as a cool, around-the-way type of guy. I never want to confuse people or go over their heads.

Where did the name Wiz come from?
Wow! I haven’t been asked that in a really long time. So, it came from the kids whom I hung out with. I was the youngest of all so they started calling me the young wiz. My grandfather was a Muslim and he thought I was really good at whatever I did, and saw how hard I was working and how challenging the path was, so he started to call me Khalifa. It is derived from an Arabic word, which means successor. I just put the two together.

Your last album, Blacc Hollywood, was aggressive and fun and in your face, and it’s way more about taking a stand. What made you want to do that?
Blacc Hollywood was a reflection of where I was at the time that I made it. When you think about a rebel, you think about people who are going against things. I don’t really go against things; I just do exactly whatever I want to do.

Who do you make music for?
Anybody who thinks; who likes Bob Marley; who likes Willie Nelson; who likes Prince; who loves music and poetry. It could be a young person who doesn’t know why they love the music or an old person who wonders, Why isn’t music like this anymore? I don’t care about award shows. I love my cars, but that’s just me as a person. I go crazy trying to come up with new ways to do shit, and that energy gets transferred through my music.

Tell us about your new album, Rolling Papers 2—how is it different from its prequel?
The title isn’t final but this next project is definitely a representation of my growth as an artist and person. Fans will for sure connect to the music but I think the lyrics and topics have really changed as I’ve grown and experienced new things in my career and personality—like being a father.

Has your creative process changed from your first very album to now?
Not really. I’m always in the studio making new music. 

You and Snoop Dogg seem to have a pretty real relationship. How did that start?
I love Snoop. I have always watched him growing up as an example of what Rap should be. And then I think when I was coming up he was looking at me as an example of where rap is now. So to be friends with him and make some really dope music together has been a dream come true.

You’re covered in tattoos. Do you have a favourite one and is there a story behind it?
I have too many to have a favourite one. I got Bob Marley and Willie Nelson on my feet. I think that’s pretty cool. I started getting tattoos when I was, like, 16—that’s when I got my first one. My mom actually took me to go get it. I got it on my left arm. It’s the name of the first rap group that I was in. But even before I got my first tattoo—since I was young—I knew that I wanted to be covered. I just plotted out what I felt and put it on my body to sort of tell my story.

What’s the way forward?
Album and music of course, but I love being creative in other areas like fashion too. I think they’re naturally connected so look out for a bunch of clothing collaborations too.

Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani