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With a series of hits that bundled gangster rhymes, weed talk, pop hooks, and slick production, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania rapper Wiz Khalifa went from breakthrough single ("Black and Yellow") to feature film star (Mac and Devin Go to High School) in the short span of two years. Along the way there were revered mixtapes, sports anthems, a friendship with West Coast legend Snoop Dogg, and the proliferation of his crew referencing Taylor Gang or Die T-shirts.
A military brat, Khalifa, whose real name is Cameron Thomaz, was born in 1987 in Minot, North Dakota. After his parents divorced when he was three, he lived in various places and military bases around the world. His first attempt at committing lyrics to paper was around age nine, and at 12 he was already recording and producing his own records in his father's Oklahoma studio. Settling in Pittsburgh during his high school years, Khalifa laid down the groundwork for a solo career and kept busy recording music in a local studio, I.D. Labs. He stood out among the studio's regulars, prompting the I.D. Labs' staff to offer him free beats and recording time, plus bringing him to the attention of Benjy Grinberg, a former executive assistant to L.A. Reid at Arista Records who had started up a new independent label, Rostrum Records. Signed to Rostrum, Khalifa built a buzz in Pittsburgh with a few singles, but he began to draw ears nationally during his senior year in high school when his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, dropped in early 2006. With the release of his independent full-length debut, Show and Prove, later that year, major publications, including Vibe, XXL, and Rolling Stone, featured profiles on the young rapper.
In summer 2007, Khalifa and Rostrum hopped on board with Warner and he cut his first major-label single, "Young'n on His Grind." The follow-up, Say Yeah, climbed into the Top 20 of Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks that same year, but the relationship between Warner Bros. and Khalifa was taking a turn for the worse. Unable to come to an agreement on his debut album for the label, the rapper announced he was leaving Warner in 2009 and returning to Rostrum for the album Deal or No Deal.
The next year began with Khalifa appearing on the cover of XXL as one of the magazines Top Ten Freshmen while The Source named him Rookie of the Year. In April his Kush & Orange Juice mixtape topped Googles Hot Search Trends list. Atlantic took notice, signing the artist that same month, and in September, his first single for the label, the Pittsburgh Steelers tribute and Stargate production Black and Yellow, appeared. As the NFL team progressed toward the playoffs, Khalifas track became their unofficial anthem, and when the Green Bay Packers emerged as the teams opponent for the Super Bowl, Lil Wayne responded with the answer song Green and Yellow. Khalifas song topped the charts in February of 2011, while his debut Atlantic set, Rolling Papers, debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart a month later. Also arriving that same year was a feature film with Snoop Dogg, Mac and Devin Go to High School, along with its accompanying soundtrack. Two mixtapes, Taylor Allderdice and Still Blazin', landed in 2012 and in early December, his fourth album, O.N.I.F.C., was released, featuring a return appearance by production team Stargate, this time working with Benny Blanco on the album's first single "Work Hard, Play Hard." Khalifa explained in interviews that the acronym title O.N.I.F.C. stood for "Only Nigga in First Class," inspired by by the album H.N.I.C. by Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Clean copies saw the abbreviation standing for "One Night in First Class."
Wikipedia:"Star Power" redirects here. For the video game mechanic, see common gameplay elements in the Guitar Hero series. For the Philippine reality talent show, see Star Power (TV series).
Cameron Jibril Thomaz (born September 8, 1987), better known by the stage name Wiz Khalifa, is an American rapper and singer-songwriter. He released his debut album, Show and Prove, in 2006, and signed to Warner Bros. Records in 2007. His Eurodance-influenced single, "Say Yeah", received urban radio airplay, charting on the Rhythmic Top 40 and Hot Rap Tracks charts in 2008.
Khalifa parted with Warner Bros. and released his second album, Deal or No Deal, in November 2009. He released the mixtape Kush and Orange Juice as a free download in April 2010; he then signed with Atlantic Records. He is also well known for his debut single for Atlantic, "Black and Yellow", which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. His debut album for the label, Rolling Papers, was released on March 29, 2011. He followed that album with O.N.I.F.C. on December 4, 2012 which was backed by the singles "Work Hard, Play Hard" and "Remember You".Cite error: The named reference ErieTimesNews was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Rising rap Wiz kid's got the right mix". Boston Herald('the edge' Boston Herald.Com). August 6, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010. "Pre-Order Rolling Papers". Wiz Khalifa. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
Khalifa was born Cameron Jibril Thomaz in Minot, North Dakota on September 8, 1987 to a mother and a father serving in the military. His parents divorced when Khalifa was about three years old. His parents' military service caused him to move regularly. Khalifa lived in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan before settling in Pittsburgh where he attended Taylor Allderdice High School.
His stage name is derived from Khalifa, an Arabic word meaning "successor", and wisdom, which was shortened to Wiz when Khalifa was a young boy. Khalifa stated to spinner.com that the name also came from being called "young Wiz 'cause I was good at everything I did, and my granddad is Muslim, so he gave me that name; he felt like that's what I was doing with my music." He got a tattoo of his stage name on his 17th birthday. He cites Jimi Hendrix, Camp Lo, The Notorious B.I.G. and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony as musical influences.Richards, Dave (September 18, 2008). "He'll make it hot". Erie Times-News. Retrieved on September 18, 2008. Cordor, Cyril. "Wiz Khalifa". Allmusic. Retrieved on June 23, 2008. Mervis, Scott (December 11, 2012). "Pittsburgh City Council makes 12-12-12 Wiz Khalifa Day". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Exclusive interview: hip hop phenomenon Wiz Khalifa". Brotha Ash Productions. March 18, 2006. Retrieved November 18, 2010. Wiz Khalifa: 'I got name tattoo at 17' by Jennifer Still. March 25, 2011 Thompson, Troy (March 12, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa Interview: SXSW 2010". spinner.com. Retrieved on March 23, 2010. Cite error: The named reference westword was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
ContentsCareer1.1 2005–08: Early mixtapes and Show and Prove1.2 2009–10: Deal or No Deal and signing with Atlantic Records1.3 2010–12: Mainstream success, Rolling Papers and O.N.I.F.C.1.4 2013-present: Blacc Hollywood
2005–08: Early mixtapes and Show and Prove
Rostrum Records president Benjy Grinberg first heard about Wiz Khalifa in 2004 when the rapper's contribution to a mixtape of various new Pittsburgh artists attracted his interest. When Grinberg finally met the 16-year-old artist, he immediately decided he wanted to work with him, later telling HitQuarters: "Even though he wasn’t all the way developed you could just tell that he was a diamond in the rough, and that with some polishing, guidance and backing he could become something special." Khalifa signed to the label shortly after and began a seven-year period of artist development.
Khalifa released his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, in 2005. The mixtape paved the way for his first full length album entitled Show and Prove in 2006. Khalifa was declared an "artist to watch" that year in Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2007, Khalifa signed to Warner Bros. Records and released two mixtapes through Rostrum Records: Grow Season, hosted by DJ Green Lantern and released on July 4, 2007, and Prince of the City 2, released on November 20, 2007. His debut Warner Bros. single "Say Yeah" reached number 25 on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40 music chart and number 20 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks. The song samples "Better Off Alone" by Alice Deejay. Khalifa's vocals from "Say Yeah" appear near the end of Pittsburgh mash up producer Girl Talk's 2008 album, Feed the Animals, over music from Underworld's "Born Slippy", Usher's "Love in This Club", and the Cure's "In Between Days". Khalifa appeared with The Game, David Banner and Play-n-Skillz at U92's Summer Jam at the USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, Utah on August 2, 2008. Khalifa released the mixtapes Star Power in September 2008, and Flight School in April 2009 on Rostrum Records.
Khalifa parted ways with Warner Bros. Records in July 2009 after numerous delays in releasing his planned debut album for the label, First Flight. Khalifa stated to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that, "I learned a lot during my time there and matured as an artist during the process. I'm happy to be moving on with all of my material and having the chance to be in control of my next moves". Khalifa appeared with Girl Talk, Modey Lemon, Donora, Grand Buffet, and Don Caballero at the Amphitheatre at Station Square in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2009, where he announced that his relationship with Warner Bros. was over.
2009–10: Deal or No Deal and signing with Atlantic Records
Continuing his association with Rostrum Records, Khalifa released the single "Teach U to Fly", and the mixtape How Fly, a collaboration with New Orleans rapper Curren$y, on August 9, 2009. Khalifa introduced a more melodic style on the mixtape, alternating between singing and rapping. He opened for Wu-Tang Clan member U-God at the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. Khalifa released the mixtape Burn After Rolling on November 2, 2009, where he raps over familiar beats from other artists, including the songs "If I Were A Boy" and "Diva" by Beyoncé, "Walking on a Dream" by Empire of the Sun, "Luchini AKA This Is It" by Camp Lo, and "Best I Ever Had" by Drake. Khalifa released his second album, Deal or No Deal, on November 24, 2009.
Khalifa performed at Emo's in Austin, Texas in March 2010 as part of the 2010 South by Southwest Music Festival. He appeared on the cover of XXL magazine that same month, for the magazine's annual list of Top 10 Freshman, which included Donnis, J. Cole, Pill, Freddie Gibbs, and Fashawn. Wiz Khalifa was named 2010 "Rookie Of The Year" by "The Source", with alongside Rick Ross, "The Man Of The Year". He toured with rapper Yelawolf on a 20-date tour, the Deal Or No Deal Tour. Khalifa released the free mixtape Kush and Orange Juice for download on June 14, 2010. Due to Khalifa's devoted grassroots fan base, the mixtape became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter with the hash tag #kushandorangejuice, and "Kush and Orange Juice download” ranked No. 1 on Google’s hot search trends.
Citing music industry insiders, New York magazine wrote that Khalifa signed with Atlantic Records in April 2010, although the rapper did not confirm it. He stated to AllHipHop in June 2010 that he was working on a new album, but was weighing his options and had not yet decided on a label to distribute it. Khalifa confirmed to MTV on July 30 that he was signing an Atlantic Records deal.
Khalifa was featured in a remix and video for the 2010 Rick Ross single "Super High", alongside Curren$y. He guested on the mixtape Grey Goose, Head Phones, and Thirsty Women by St. Louis rapper M.C, and was featured on the track "The Breeze (Cool)" on rapper Wale's August 2010 mixtape More About Nothing. Khalifa was named MTV's Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010, winning with nearly 70,000 votes, and beating out finalists Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Travis Porter, and Diggy Simmons.
Khalifa appeared at the Soundset 2010 festival in May 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, alongside Method Man & Redman, Del the Funky Homosapien and Hieroglyphics, Atmosphere, Murs, Cage, and others. He also performed at the 2010 Rock the Bells festival, along with hip hop veterans Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, KRS-One, Jedi Mind Tricks and Slick Rick. Khalifa declined an invitation to tour with rapper Drake and launched his own Waken Baken Tour, a 50-city national tour with rapper Yelawolf. His official DJ on the tour was DJ Bonics.
The tour, scheduled to last from September to November 2010, has, as of October, sold out every venue. In November 2010, during his "Waken Baken" tour at East Carolina University, Wiz Khalifa was arrested for possession and trafficking of marijuana. He was then released the next morning after a $300K bail, and resumed his tour. Khalifa performed in a cypher during the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards. He recited his verse from the song, "The Check Point", from his mixtape with Curren$y, How Fly.
2010–12: Mainstream success, Rolling Papers and O.N.I.F.C.
Khalifa released "Black and Yellow", his first single for Rostrum/Atlantic, produced by Stargate, which has received radio airplay. The single peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100; the title of the song refers to the colours of the City of Pittsburgh. Khalifa released his debut album with Atlantic Records in 2011. He appeared with Curren$y on the track "Scaling the Building" on producer Ski Beatz' 2010 album, 24 Hour Karate School. Khalifa's record label, Taylor Gang Records, is named after his love of Chuck Taylor All-Stars and his alma mater, Taylor Allderdice High School.
On March 29, 2011, Khalifa released his first studio album, Rolling Papers in the US. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 197,000 copies in the United States. Shortly afterward on March 31, 2011 Wiz Khalifa performed at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the school's annual Dooley's Weekend. On June 26, 2011, Khalifa was nominated and won Best New Artist at the BET Awards of 2011. Khalifa collaborated with British rapper Tinie Tempah whom Tinie announced in an interview with Rolling Stone that his next single is to be called "Till I'm Gone" and would feature Wiz Khalifa and is to be produced by Stargate. The single and the video song were released at the end of June 2011.
On April 11, 2012, Khalifa announced that he will release his second studio album titled Only Nigga In First Class but that it will be abbreviated as O.N.I.F.C. for release to mainstream markets. O.N.I.F.C. debuted at number two with 131,000 in first week sales. The album has spawned two singles "Work Hard, Play Hard" and "Remember You" both receiving good commercial acclaim and with the former going platinum. Wiz has also recently talked to rapper 50 Cent, who he collaborated with on the song "Telescope", about making a movie together.
2013-present: Blacc Hollywood
In April 2013, Khalifa revealed that after having his son he decided to work on a new album that he was planning to release in 2013. On April 17, 2013, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y announced that they will drop their collaboration EP Live in Concert on April 20, 2013. The EP featured seven new songs. On June 24, 2013, he announced that his fifth studio album would be titled Blacc Hollywood and would be released in 2013. On September 3, 2013, Khalifa revealed he had recorded songs with Miley Cyrus and Juicy J for Blacc Hollywood. In October 2013, Mannie Fresh confirmed that he provided production for the album. On February 11, 2014, Khalifa released Blacc Hollywood's first single titled "We Dem Boyz". In an interview with Rap-Up on May 22, 2014, Wiz announced that his song with Adele was "just an idea", and that it hadn't been recorded and subsequently wouldn't be on the final cut for Blacc Hollywood. After releasing several "Weedmixes" on SoundCloud, including "Ziplocc" and "Maan!", Wiz took to Twitter to create hype about his new mixtape, 28 Grams, which was due to be released on May 25, 2014. However, Wiz was arrested for marijuana possession the day before, and there were fears that the mixtape would be pushed back. After posting a "jail selfie" and hashtagging "FreeTrapWiz" on Twitter, he was released hours later, meaning the mixtape would go ahead with its intended release date."Interview With Benjy Grinberg". HitQuarters. 17 Oct 2011. Retrieved 19 Oct 2011. "Wiz Khalifa". November 28, 2006. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on August 2, 2007. Kuperstein, Slava (2011-09-10). "Wiz Khalifa Working On Next Album | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2012-02-04. Breihan, Tom (June 24, 2008). "Girl Talk's Pop-Music Car-Wreck". The Village Voice. Retrieved on June 25, 2008. Burger, David (August 1, 2008). "U92's Summer Jam: Rap producers get a chance to shine ". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved on August 2, 2008. Mervis, Scott (July 18, 2009). "Wiz Khalifa, Warner Bros. part ways". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on July 18, 2009. Tady, Scott (August 1, 2009). "A new wave hits Pittsburgh music". Beaver County Times. Retrieved on August 2, 2009. Falkowski, Jamie (October 15, 2009). "CMJ ’09: Wiz Khalifa". Time Out New York, Issue 733. Retrieved on October 19, 2009. McCray, Mike (November 3, 2009). "Mixtape Review: Wiz Khalifa". Creative Loafing Charlotte. Retrieved on November 8, 2009. Todd, Deborah M. (November 26, 2009). "Rapper Wiz Khalifa drops 'Deal or No Deal' after frustrating time with Warner Bros.". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on November 27, 2009. Freedman, Pete (March 25, 2010). "It's Good To Make Time For A Bro, Even After SXSW and NX35.". Dallas Observer. Retrieved on April 14, 2010. Rodriguez, Jayson (2010-11-30). "Rick Ross Named The Source's Man Of The Year - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04. Noz, Andrew (March 29, 2010). "Review: Wiz Khalifa & Yelawolf @ 9:30 Club". Washington City Paper. Retrieved on April 14, 2010. Vozick-Levinson, Simon (April 14, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa's 'Kush and Orange Juice' mixtape blows up". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on April 14, 2010. Ramirez, Erika (May 4, 2010). "Hip-Hop’s New Business Model: Major-Label Rappers Stay ‘Independent’". New York. Retrieved on May 15, 2010. Crates, Jake (June 22, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa Sells Out Tour; Talks New Project". AllHipHop. Retrieved on June 26, 2010. Ziegbe, Mawuse; Calloway, Sway (July 30, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa Was Working On Atlantic Deal 'For A Minute'" MTV. Retrieved on August 23, 2010. Reid, Shaheem (July 9, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa Calls Rick Ross' 'Super High' Remix 'A Blessing'". MTV. Retrieved on September 5, 2010. Johnson, Kevin. J. (June 24, 2010). "Rapper M.C. grabs attention on new mixtape". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved on June 26, 2010. McCray, Mike (August 17, 2010). "Mixtape Review: Wale’s More About Nothing". Creative Loafing Charlotte. Retrieved on August 20, 2010. MTV News staff (July 25, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa Is MTV News' 'Hottest Breakthrough MC Of 2010'!". Retrieved on August 11, 2010. Riemensheider, Chris (May 27, 2010). "A different atmosphere at Rhymesayers". Star Tribune. Retrieved on September 3, 2010. Humphress, Corey (May 27, 2010). "Wu-Tang Clan, Rakim, More to Perform Full Albums at Rock the Bells 2010". Paste. Retrieved on June 2, 2010. Barley, Nicole (17 September 2010). "Free Style". Whirl Magazine. Retrieved 6 August 2012. Eustice, Kyle (October 7, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa has a global outlook on life". Westword. Retrieved on October 8, 2010. BET Hip Hop Awards 2010 Cypher No.1 (Wiz Khalifa, Bones, YeloWolf & Raekwon) Mervis, Scott (September 2, 2010). "Local Scene: 09/02/10". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on September 5, 2010. Lipshutz, Jason (October 13, 2010). "Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow" And Four Other Hot Football Fight Songs". Billboard. Retrieved on October 15, 2010. Todd, Deborah M. (September 7, 2010). "Rising hip-hop stars call Pittsburgh home". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on September 8, 2010. Feldman, Nick (September 22, 2010). "Legendary Producer Ski Beatz Proves He Hasn't Missed a Beat with 24 Hour Karate School". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved on October 5, 2010. "Rolling Papers [Explicit]: Wiz Khalifa: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. 2011-03-28. Retrieved 2014-08-18. Caulfield, Keith (April 6, 2011). "Britney Spears Snares Sixth No. 1 on Billboard 200 with 'Femme Fatale'". Billboard. Retrieved April 6, 2011. "Wiz Khalifa at Emory". Emorywheel.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04. "Best New Artist : BET Awards". BET. Retrieved 2011-11-21. Tinie Tempah is Optimistic About Breaking Through in the U.S by Matthew Perpetua on 18 April 2011. RollingStone.com. Tinie Tempah announces new single on RollingStone.com on TinieTempah.com. Retrieved 18 April 2011. First Look: Tinie Tempah feat Wiz Khalifa. playforlife.fm. Retrieved on July 1, 2011. Markman, Rob (2011-09-09). "Wiz Khalifa Already 'Working On' Rolling Papers Follow-Up - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-02-04. John Woodruff (2011-10-09). "Wiz Khalifa begins work on new album". TheCelebrityCafe.com. Retrieved 2012-02-04. "News". HITS Daily Double. 2012-12-11. Retrieved 2013-07-04. "Wiz Khalifa Talks Possible Movie & Soundtrack With 50 Cent [Video] - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2012-12-25. Retrieved 2013-07-04. "Wiz Khalifa Plans to Release New Album This Year". Rap-Up.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04. "In Typical Stoner Fashion, Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y Are Dropping "Live In Concert" On 4/20". Complex. 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-07-04. "Wiz Khalifa Announces New Album ‘Blacc Hollywood’". Rap-Up.com. 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2013-07-04. Baker, Soren (2013-09-03). 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Khalifa began dating model Amber Rose in early 2011. The couple became engaged on March 1, 2012, and married on July 8, 2013, with a wedding celebration planned for later in the year. They have one son, Sebastian Taylor Thomaz, born on February 21, 2013.
Pittsburgh City Council declared 12-12-12 (December 12, 2012) to be Wiz Khalifa Day in the city. Khalifa graduated from Pittsburgh's Taylor Allderdice High School and in January 2012, purchased a home in nearby Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
Khalifa is open about his use of cannabis, and he has claimed in many interviews that he spends $10,000 a month on cannabis, and also smokes daily."Wiz Khalifa On Twitter". Twitter.com. 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2011-04-01. Christie D'Zurilla (2012-03-02). "Amber Rose, Wiz Khalifa engaged; 'Love Is Everywhere'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-02-25. "Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose Tie the Knot". Billboard. July 8, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013. "Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose Welcome Son Sebastian Taylor". People. February 21, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2013. Cite error: The named reference WizKhalifaDay was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Machosky, Michael (December 5, 2012). "Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa holds to his hometown roots". Tribune-Review. Dayton, Rick (March 28, 12). "Wiz Khalifa Buys Home In Washington County". CBS Pittsburgh. Check date values in: |date= (help) Wiz Khalifa Shirts says: (2010-11-16). "Wiz Khalifa Spends $10,000 a Month on Weed, May Be A “Bad Guy” « The FADER". Thefader.com. Retrieved 2012-08-20.