Mala Luna Artist Spotlight: Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa is one of hip-hop’s biggest superstars. With 6 studio albums, 15 mixtapes, countless singles, 12 of which are platinum or multi-platinum, he has spent the past 12 years paving the way to a perfect balance in everything in his life while forever hustlin’.
Wiz was a thug. Hustlin’ on the streets as a teenager he had money on his mind. Then one day he wandered into E. Dan’s recording studio in Pittsburgh and spit some game with such charisma that E. Dan went on to help him put together and record some songs that were then passed on to Benjy Grinberg who signed him to Rostrum Records. This was 2005.
Wiz’s love for music is rooted deep in his childhood as his dad was a true appreciator of music. Instead of watching sports or movies, his dad would put on music and they would kick it, which soon became a habit in Wiz’s life and is still so to this day. His early appreciation of music and value of lyricism led him to East Coast music. He was into Wu-Tang Clan, Big, Nas, Mobb Deep, Prodigy, Talib Kweli. Artists like that were an inspiration and were the building blocks of him becoming a rapper especially because their songs were so deeply rooted in lyricism. Lyricism, which has declined in popularity in the past couple of years, is still an important component for Wiz and his high-profile circle of friends like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y Spitta and Big Sean.
Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania was Wiz’s first mixtape released in 2006 and is probably like nothing that he has released in the recent years. Back then he was rough, thug-ish; polar opposite of the laid-back, let’s-kick-it stoner flow that he is on now. He was 20 and his mixtape scored him a record deal with Warner Music Group, though as little progress was made, the two went their own ways after two years. In 2007 under Rostrum and Taylor Gang (Wiz’s own label est. 2008) released Prince of the City 2. This mixtape allowed him to become more centered in regards to what he wanted to do and accomplish as an artist. His recognition of wanting to create music his own way without ever forcing anything became the drive to portray himself through his work as a complete package, nothing less.
This led to two killer years: 2009 and 2010. Flight School mixtape moved Wiz on the right path to Deal or No Deal, an independent album that scored him plenty success. Shortly after in 2010 came his breakthrough when he dropped the next mixtape: Kush & Orange Juice. This was the birth of the Wiz we all know now. It was real, it was his style and it was impactful. It brought him recognition by Atlantic Records, who promptly signed him. His understanding between the difference of creating mixtapes and creating albums allows him to produce content that people get down with due to the sheer realness of his lyrics and sounds.
In 2011, under Atlantic, Wiz released the major label debut Rolling Papers and while it was a huge commercial success, it resulted in people throwing accusations his way. Mainstream and radio songs are labeled as sell outs by many and because Rolling Papers gave him such exposure, he was the one word, which for some reason people associate with a negative attitude: changed. Yet, the accusations came without the knowledge of the full picture. Fans thought that Wiz was straying from his sound and instead started singing, although that was one of his talents way before Rolling Papers, which simply did not fit into any previous projects. While some artists would’ve ignored such accusations and even go as far as to get angry, Wiz went on to address his fans in a letter he posted on Tumblr: “Strictly for My Taylors” where he stressed that everything he does is part of a balance.
Afterwards, he went on to release two more hot albums: O.N.I.F.C and Blacc Hollywood, which became platinum and gold, respectively. Additionally, he has released six powerful mixtapes that echo of the rawness that Wiz is able to tap into. Most recently, he released his sixth studio album, Khalifa, which is supposed to be an introspective album about the coming up tale of and though not his biggest of hits, he doesn’t falter. He’s been in the game for a good bit of time now and his Taylor Gang will stand by him as he dives into a new creative stage on a different level to keep the balance. Before he was a talented rapper, now he’s fully-tatted talented rapper, father, entrepreneur, and weed producer. His current brand is a true reflection of what he wants to represent: freedom, lifestyle, hip-hop.
He will be performing at Mala Luna Music Festival (Oct. 28-29) in San Antonio and the best thing to do now is click here, buy some tickets and go see Cameron Thomaz perform.