Wiz Khalifa Takes the High Road

Wiz Khalifa Takes the High Road

Wiz Khalifa Takes the High Road

One of the biggest names in hip hop talks about his forthcoming album, 'Rolling Papers 2'

One of the biggest names in hip hop talks about his forthcoming album, 'Rolling Papers 2'

Photography: Nick Haymes

Styling: Natasha Newman-thomas

Text: Joseph Akel

With the fall release of his much-anticipated album, Rolling Papers 2, coming on the heels of the duly hyped The High Road summer tour with Snoop Dogg—not to mention the much-buzzed-about mixtape, Rude Awakenings, which dropped earlier this year—rapper Wiz Khalifa doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. When asked about his prodigious output, the musician is quick to convey that making music is first and foremost in his mind. “I’m into my art and my creativity. I’m a creative person,” he says, from his home in Los Angeles. “As long as I’m being as creative as possible, I could give a fuck about what people think.”

Indeed, for someone who has over 10 million Instagram followers and almost 26 million Twitter subscribers, Khalifa is incredibly forthright when discussing his career and the run of successes that have followed him since his 2010 chart-topping single, the hip-hop ode to his native Pittsburgh, “Black and Yellow.” “I never looked at that as my big moment or anything. I didn’t let it define me.” However, he admits, “I expected that to happen because I worked so hard. There’s nobody who could have handed me ‘Black and Yellow’ and put my video on YouTube and gave me all of those views. It came from the work that I put in and the connection that I have with my fans.”

JACKET AND PANTS CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION TOP PHLEMUNS NOSE RING, NECKLACES, BRACELET, RING WIZ’S OWN WATCH OMEGA

Social media, for Khalifa, “just gives you the opportunity to get your personality out there.” However, far from the braggadocio that he observes in the feeds of other similarly high-profile celebrities, Khalifa feels that his is absent of, as he puts it, the “showing off and flexing” prevalent today. That honest quality has found Khalifa publically sparring, as was the case earlier this year when the rapper engaged in an extended Twitter exchange with Kanye West over the release of the latter’s album, The Life of Pablo. (The two have since reconciled, citing text-based miscommunication.) For Khalifa, though, social media is mostly a means for his fans to see who he really is. “People get to see how funny I am,” he says, “how clever I am. They get how normal I am. They get how wise I am.”

That last attribute is certainly clear when it comes to Khalifa’s acumen as an artist and businessman. His appearance with Charlie Puth in “See You Again” for the Furious 7 soundtrack—an ode to the franchise’s former headliner, Paul Walker, who died in a 2013 automotive accident—exposed Khalifa to a global audience. The track spent 12 nonconsecutive weeks atop the Billboard Top 100, accruing over a billion YouTube views and garnering Khalifa and Puth numerous industry accolades, including Golden Globe and Grammy nominations. “That was one that I didn’t expect,” Khalifa recalls of the track’s record-setting success. “I was able to step out of my shell and what I create and work with other people and bring together something that will last forever.”

The artist has since been afforded greater creative freedom and, in his own words, is looking forward to doing “whatever the fuck I want. That’s what I’m doing with Rolling Papers 2, introducing the pioneer Wiz Khalifa sound on a broad scale so people get to enjoy and love that.”

ROLLING PAPERS 2 WILL BE RELEASED THIS FALL

Credits:

Grooming Tracy Love  stylist assistant Krissie Torgerson Location Little Big Man Gallery

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