10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wiz Khalifa
Happy birthday to weed-loving emcee Wiz Khalifa, who turns 24 years old today! Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz, Khalifa earned a boatload of accolades even before he released his debut album, including being named one of Rolling Stone’s Artists to Watch, one of XXL’s Top Ten Freshmen, and Source magazine’s Rookie of the Year. When he finally released ‘Rolling Papers,’ it shot to No. 2 and went gold. But how much do you really know about the Pittsburgh rapper? Here are 10 facts about Wiz Khalifa you may not have known.
His mom took him to get his first tattoo at age 16, but even prior to that he had an artistic vision for his skin. "Even before I got my first tattoo -- since I was young -- 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," he told Interview. "I still leave little places and spaces to add stuff. I want to be getting tattoos forever. I don't want to run out of space while I'm young. I just really want my tattoos to be meaningful."
Khalifa's only single for Warner Bros. was 'Say Yeah,' a song that sampled the recognizable synth part from the Alice Deejay song 'Better Off Alone.' Though the song is a far cry from his current, laid-back style, Khalifa has no regrets about it. "I love that song," he said. "It was a great idea that we had, and we executed it right, and people received it well, so for people to relate that to me, that's cool, I like that. I pride myself on not playin' myself. Anything I do, I don't regret it, I don't look back at it like, 'I shouldn't have done that' … It's all a learning experience, and I'm just moving forward."
He's known as Pittsburgh's biggest hip-hop export, but Wiz was actually born in North Dakota to a father who served in the military. He moved to Germany, England and Japan before settling in the Steel City. He says the experiences overseas helped broaden his horizons and made him more of an extrovert, since he always had to make new friends after every move.
"Taylor Gang or die" is the motto of Wiz's crew Taylor Gang, which, depending on which story you believe, was either named after Khalifa's Taylor Allderdice High School or the Chuck Taylor shoes he wears. "Taylor Gang is the movement, it's the lifestyle," he said. "It's me and my crew, but it's the fans who support me as well. We all rep Taylor Gang together."
Most artists would kill to get a record deal, but Khalifa was happy to walk away from his when he couldn't see eye to eye with Warner Bros. after 'Say Yeah.' He never put out a full album with the label and went the indie route for another year, turning down an offer to join Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, before Atlantic signed him in the summer of 2010. 'Rolling Papers' became his major-label debut in March 2011 and reached No. 2, behind only Britney Spears' 'Femme Fatale.'
He introduced them in January at a Pittsburgh Steelers game. “They actually really, really dig each other," Wiz said. "Amber is a sweetheart, and my mom, everybody who meets her loves her anyway. So it was really tight." That’s a good thing, because if Amber is really going to be having his babies at some point, we’re glad that the future grandmother approves!
Wiz started smoking at a young age and still remembers his first time. "I got really stoned. I thought I was asleep but I was awake. I was a little bit younger than I should've been," he said. "My dad didn't like it. My mom didn't care. After a while, they saw it wasn't affecting anything. I was still productive." He added with a laugh, "My mom smoked weed, so she just wanted in."
Wiz and Snoop Dogg seem like a natural fit for a stoner movie, so it makes perfect sense to see them filming ‘High School.’ Khalifa told Billboard. "It's a great buddy film. It's just about - Snoop's the cool guy in school and I'm kind of the nerd." It's hard to imagine such a cool guy as the nerd, but we'll wait and see. He added that he and Snoop want to release a soundtrack: "We've got 10 songs already and we're using all 10 of them… We're just doing things that people aren't doing these days."
Drake made a personal appeal last fall for Khalifa to join him on tour, but Wiz, who hadn't yet released 'Rolling Papers,' politely declined. He wanted to perform for his own fans, even if the crowds were much smaller. "No disrespect to cuz or anybody else who might wanna see me do some more collaborative things," Wiz told XXL, "but to keep buildin’ and keep my brand as strong as what it is, I gotta keep focusin’ on what it is." Noting that Drake made $10 million in the previous year, Wiz added, "Maybe when I make $10 million, then we can tour. "
When Steeler fans embraced ‘Black and Yellow’ as the team advanced to the Super Bowl in February, it was no accident - Wiz planned it that way. He told MTV when the song was released that he hoped it would become an anthem for the club. Several months later, he found himself performing the song prior to the AFC Championship Game, and the track reached No. 1 during Super Bowl week.