Cannabis and hip-hop are a perfect pairing, but never has the deal been sweeter than it is with Wiz Khalifa. Although there have been countless rappers before him professing the benefits of cannabis or decrying the illegality of the plant, and there will be many after him—Khalifa landed in the oh-so sweet spot.
First gaining popularity in 2006 as an up-and-coming rapper trying to make a name for himself in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Khalifa coincidentally rose to fame just as the mainstream popularity of cannabis legalization has grown. His lyrics are the perfect blend of hardened fervor and reverent control—he wasn’t going to shy away from even the illegal or demonized side of cannabis. This wasn’t rap about cannabis for the sake of being cool and mentioning taboo topics; it was because Khalifa genuinely loves the plant. While he was by no means the first rapper to take such an approach, he did so in a unique way that captured the attention of consumers and rap enthusiasts everywhere.
“It definitely helps me deal with people for real for real; a lot of creative people don’t want to give out too much of their secrets or really socialize too much. But being that pot is so social, I feel like everybody’s got to spread the love with the weed.”
Recording rap since the age of 14, Khalifa has always been known as an herb enthusiast who had an affinity for writing lyrics, songs, mixtapes and albums—many of which are named after cannabis. In 2010, Khalifa dropped the mixtape Kush & Orange Juice, followed by Rolling Papers on Atlantic Records the following year. After two more wildly successful studio albums, Khalifa takes it back to the roots in which he towers over the rest. With the latest release of his next album, Rolling Papers 2, scheduled for release on July 13, Khalifa continues to reign on top of the worlds of rap and cannabis.
And music is just one avenue in which his life interacts with the herb. Khalifa also helped design and innovate an interactive game available at iTunes App Store or Google Play called Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm, and he has partnered with several companies on cannabis deals. Reef Dispensaries in Nevada and Arizona joined forces with the rap star to pioneer Khalifa Kush, a special strain perfect for those seeking a heady buzz. He has also worked with RiverRock Cannabis, a Colorado-based company, to come out with cannabis products under his name, and has famously partnered with his favorite rolling paper brand, RAW.
While all of this is impressive, it’s not exactly a surprise. Khalifa is bold and brazen about his love for the green plant, and shares this whenever possible, be it through music, spoken word, video games or partnerships. What is more surprising is the wide variety of partnerships and musical pairings he takes on. His collaborative The Boys of Zummer Tour with Fall Out Boy puts emphasis on both of their musical stylings and the wide range of talent that Khalifa truly possesses. He has also co-headlined tours with more obvious companions, like Snoop, another rapper who gives plenty of love to cannabis and is no stranger in its industry.
Fans across the nation will get a chance to fall in love with new tracks in person throughout this summer, as Khalifa is kicking off the Dazed & Blazed Summer 2018 Amphitheater Tour alongside Rae Sremmurd. The tour starts in Detroit, Michigan on July 21 and is set to visit countless venues across the nation through the end of August and continue through September. Khalifa is not slowing down any time soon, and he’s ready to continue reaping the rewards of major success. CULTURE spoke with Wiz Khalifa before he hits the road and drops his record to talk cannabis, fatherhood and making music for the future.
“[Cannabis] brought people together, made people happy. The best things that I do are on pot.”
You’re kicking off the Dazed & Blazed 2018 Amphitheater Tour this month. What can fans expect if they catch you on tour? Where are you most excited to perform?
It’s gonna be crazy! I haven’t been on my own solo tour; I co-headlined with Snoop in the past, and opened for Fall Out Boy, so it’s been awhile since I had my own experience. I’m just excited to get back out there, tear it up. I have my new album coming up, so I’m going to be performing a lot of the new music, getting it in everybody’s heads.
Fans are looking forward to hearing the tracks on your upcoming album, Rolling Papers 2. What can we expect from the album, and what are some of the lyrical concepts?
You can expect the album to be really my most current, best work. Of course, the production is crazy. I really just wanted to make an experience for people to know what my music sounds like, but I also want to know what it would sound like five or 10 years down the road. A lot of the music on here is definitely going to set things up for later, for what my sound is going to be down the road. [It’s] something that everyone is going to enjoy, so that everyone can see how much work I put in.
You’re also known for being a loving father. How do you balance a life with your son and your busy music career?
I just make a conscious effort; my son is the most important thing to me. So while I always have to stay on top of my business, my son’s activities and what’s important to him are very important to me.
How did you first start smoking cannabis? How did it become such a big part of your life?
I really just started smoking by hanging out with the homies, being in the studio. [There was] pot getting passed around and eventually you are going to end up hitting it, but for me I always felt like it was a safe thing. It was never bad to me. I never saw the downsides of it. I never wanted to go past smoking weed, never thought of it as a gateway drug or anything like that. It brought people together, made people happy. The best things that I do are on pot.
“[Legalization is] going in the right direction; they are starting to let people out of jail on weed charges. There is weed everywhere; you can walk up and down the street and smoke pot. I’m digging it.”
Obviously cannabis has impacted your creative life. How would you say it has impacted your private life behind the scenes?
It definitely helps me deal with people for real for real; a lot of creative people don’t want to give out too much of their secrets or really socialize too much. But being that pot is so social, I feel like everybody’s got to spread the love with the weed.
How do you feel about legalization so far, and what could be done better or differently?
It’s going in the right direction; they are starting to let people out of jail on weed charges. There is weed everywhere; you can walk up and down the street and smoke pot. I’m digging it. I just think that while it’s taking time to cross over and become more mainstream, they should loosen up on motherfuckers, which they have been, but it’s not gonna happen overnight. Still, it’s moving in the right direction.
Your music may be fun and tongue-in-cheek, but you are still sending a message about cannabis. What do you most want to tell the world about the plant?
Mainly that it’s not as scary as it was made out to be in the past, and just show people the up sides of it, the benefits, how it helps people more than it hurts and how even if you don’t smoke pot, you can grow it, or you can be in some kind of field where it’s not “us versus them.”
Is there anything else you want to announce as far as upcoming writing, recording, releases or tours go?
The album is coming out July 13, and I’m gearing up to drop more music off of the album before the album comes out, so fans can look forward to that. Mostly, I’m just focused on the tour and the new album.
1987 – September 8, Khalifa was born Cameron Jibril Thomaz in Minot, North Dakota to military parents.
1990 – Khalifa’s parents divorced, and as a self-proclaimed “military brat,” he traveled the U.S. and the world with his family. He earned his nickname, “Wiz” for wisdom and “Khalifa” from the Arabic word for “successor,” because of his above-average intellect.
2004 – Rostrum Records learned about Khalifa from a mixtape of various artists from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and signed him shortly afterward.
2005 – Khalifa released his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania.
2006 – September 6, Khalifa released Show and Prove, his first full-length studio album. He was declared an “artist to watch” by Rolling Stone.
2007 – He signed to Warner Bros. Records and released mixtapes entitled Grow Season and Prince of the City 2 on Rostrum Records. His single, “Say Yeah,” made it onto the Billboard charts, further solidifying his fame.
2008 – September 17, Khalifa released the mixtape Star Power.
2009 – Khalifa left Warner Bros. Records due to album release delays. He dropped Deal or No Deal and more mixtapes.
2010 – April 14, Khalifa released Kush & Orange Juice mixtape, which becomes one of the top trending topics on Twitter.
He also played South by Southwest®, toured with Yelawolf and was named “Rookie of the Year” by The Source.
2011 – March 29, Khalifa released Rolling Papers, which hit number one on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Rap Albums charts, plus it hit the top 10 on additional charts.
Wiz also began dating Amber Rose, a well-known model.
2012 – December 4, Khalifa came out with another record, O.N.I.F.C.
The hip-hop artist becomes engaged to Amber Rose.
2013 – Khalifa announced plans for a new album, Blacc Hollywood. He married Rose, who gave birth to their son, Sebastian Taylor.
2014 – August 19, Khalifa released Blacc Hollywood.
Khalifa was arrested for cannabis possession, posted a jail selfie and started a trending #FreeTrapWiz hashtag. Khalifa announced that he no longer pays for cannabis, as he is sponsored by a dispensary called “The Cookie Company.”
2015 – Khalifa was featured on a Fall Out Boy song “Uma Thurman” and toured with the band. Rose filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their split. Both parties gained joint custody of their son, Sebastian.
2016 – February 5, Khalifa came out with another full-length, Khalifa.
He sued former label Rostrum Records for $1 million over unpaid royalties that he claimed were owed.
2017 – Khalifa started training for UFC fighting and began learning Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu.
2018 – Khalifa kicks off a tour, releases Rolling Papers 2 and prepares for the next chapter of his career.