Wiz Khalifa

posted April 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 24 comments

Wiz Khalifa's been writing raps since he was nine years old. Growing up in Pittsburgh "They call it the Middle East," he says he put out his first CD at 13 after putting in work at a lab where studio time came as courtesy of an indie label owner named Benji Grinberg with Rostrum Records. Before long, his name started surfacing in the streets and the media, prompting a deal with Warner Brothers Records.

While it maybe unprecedented for a Pittsburgh artist to make it to L.A.'s radio airways save one who made a splash but it was slim - it's happening for Wiz with his first single, "Say Yeah," which uses a feel-good Techno sample.

checked in with Wiz between his promo stops at radio stations in Southern California to get some Pittsburgh wisdom.

Impressions of L.A: "I'm out here a lot. It's a different type of vibe. [There's] nothing like it. That's why I like it."

On Wiz' First Single, "Say Yeah":
"I'm always in the studio [ID Labs] in Pittsburgh with a team of producers. Juliano (Ransom, Agallah, Raezellous) made this beat. It was a bit longer, and we decided to roll with it. It just has taken off and video just dropped."

On The Alice Deejay Sample Used In The Single: "It's a feel-good sample. I knew it'd be big on the radio and in the clubs. I just figured let's run with it. The sample is from Alice Dejay's 'Better Off Alone,' a Techno song, and it's an original [cleared] sample."

On Influences: "I listened to all types of music. Rock, Pop, a lot of Hip Hop. Anita Baker, Kool & The Gang, Snoop, B.I.G. I'm a fan of music in general."

On The Pittsburgh Music Scene: "Just being from Pitt there's a lot of musical influences. We call it the Middle East for real. There's cats that listen to Three-6-Mafia. There's so many crowds you got to please. I can cover all angles, whatever is hot at the time. Being able to make a sound helped me out."

On The Origin Of The Name Wiz Khalifa: "The name comes from me being a young cat and hanging around older cats, they would say I was wise. My rap name before was Wizdom, so it became Wiz. My grandfather is Muslim. Khalifa in Arabic means "success" or "leader" and khalifa in Islam is someone who spread the word, a khalif."

On His Warner Brothers Debut: "Working on it. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be a good balance of music."

Who's Producing On It: "Two or three tracks will be my team [Rostrum Records/ID Labs]. I'm also working with DJ Toomp, The Runners and Terrace Martin. [We've] got to find the right connection to the right people."

Why Makes Wiz DXnext-worthy: Wiz represents a largely untapped market, with a distinct sound and enough youth to make him develop himself over the next five years. This is an artist, who like 50 Cent or Juelz Santana, can make a club record without losing his abilities on mixtapes and album cuts, retaining respect in the streets. With this versatility, youth and a budget to make his entrance a larger-than-life one, Wiz Khalifa is one to watch.

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