“I’m about being carefree and having fun. I just hope that comes out through the music,” says 25-year-old rapper Wiz Khalifa, who headlines San Jose Event Center at San Jose State on November 10 for his 2050 Tour.
Khalifa or “Young Wiz” as his classmates called him is at a point where many rappers dream to reach. The tall, skinny tattooed Pittsburgh native has already ran through major music labels (his first signing was to Warner Bros. at age 19) and he’s now peaking on rap, dance and international crossover charts.
He hangs out with Snoop Dogg whom he laughingly refers to as a “smoking buddy” and Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J, who performs with Khalifa in San Jose. He is also engaged to former video vixen Amber Rose, a model and actress famously linked to Kanye West. The two announced recently at MTV’s VMAs that a baby is on the way.
Professionally, Khalifa’s unofficial mixtapes are as sought after as his official albums. His latest, Cabin Fever 2, is a follow-up to its massively successful predecessor.
But what’s striking about Khalifa’s odd rise to fame is the absence of struggle. Essentially, he got signed right away. Not too many new musicians leave labels like Warner Bros. or Atlantic—they pay dues for years to get on these labels and often never make it. In fact, his debut for Atlantic, “Black & Yellow,” almost immediately earned him the top spot on the Billboard Charts.
Khalifa’s approach to rapping is counter-intuitive, too, as he doesn’t rely on sharp rhymes or mic skills. He comes from a new breed of rappers that don’t concern themselves with delivery or lyricism. The point isn’t to be detailed but rather fun—and by all means. They sell lifestyle and attitude, crafting entire albums around persona and party anthems. It’s worked great for Snoop as well as the Rick Ross wannabes of the world. Both lowered the bar in terms of technical skill but raised it in terms of charisma and attitude.
Snoop is, of course, pop culture gold but as a rapper he’s not of the same breed as quick-lipped maestros Kendrick Lamar or Pharoahe Monch, for example.