It’s 2:39am on Sept. 15, right before one of the most influential artist of our time jumps right back into headlining a world tour. I wanted to take time to appreciate the cultural impact Wiz Khalifa has made over the years. I was first introduced to his music as a freshman at Grambling State, obviously I was aware of “Say Yeah” but the first time I stumbled over the Flight School mixtape cover was fall 2009. Coming from suburban California and as a student-athlete at a HBCU(Historically Black College and Universities) I was often home sick if I wasn’t in class or in practice. I was alone and needed music to console me. I was instantly curious when I saw Flight School and the first song off the mixtape was “boarding pass”. I thought I was big shit being fresh from high school at a university playing basketball,working for the historic program that was Grambling state football and interning for ESPN — I ended up traveling a lot. I was in a different hotel every week and had numerous boarding passes. I understood my peers from back home weren’t doing what I was doing. Hearing “I’m in the air/you oh so low”– “hand me my boarding pass,yeah,& I’ll meet you when my flight lands” “3 hour trip with only 15 minutes left to go””people telling me I changed/that’s exactly what I’m getting so I’ll never be the same” I’m flying all over the country at this point,and again I knew a lot of my peers from high school weren’t doing that.
I related immensely and had to hear more. I looked up everything that had to do with Wiz Khalifa & lucky for me I befriended a laid back guy similar to myself named Tony Fresco. He was more aware of the music at the time and pointed me in the right direction. We’d have conversations about music for hours and he let me know about “Star Power” and “How Fly” the collaborative mixtape with Louisiana native Curren$y.
Befriending someone with the same music taste as you and being so far away from home is refreshing. I played a great deal of Wiz’s music in my dorm during fall 2009. I left the door wide open with a complete disregard for the noise levels and rules. I blasted “Ink my whole body” & “B.A.R” like I was trying to let God hear it. So many people would walk past my dorm room asking me “who’s this?” “He from Cali?” Imagine being down south, where the likes of Gucci Mane, Boosie, and Lil Wayne are almost the only things being played. Here’s a different sound being introduced through the freshmen dorms, not to mention wiz had his groundbreaking day today vlog. I was an avid viewer and as I started to introduce the Pittsburg artist to others on campus I immediately saw the fascination take over almost in a cult-like way. At the time, I believe Wiz said he only had about 1,500 twitter followers and I watched a handful of 18/19 year olds sit in front of a laptop for hours on end watching him do things like record, smoke, get tattoos, play jokes on his friends and travel the country.
It was common that this tall, lanky, tattooed rapper’s appeal had a great affect on anyone made aware of his vlog and likeness. Guys even tried to change their laugh. Everyone on twitter spent countless amounts of dollars heading to the local tatt shop trying to “ink their whole body”, searched for the nearest weed pushers, & this was all before he set the global trend of “camo shorts go with anything I wanna wear”. It goes without question the Taylor Allderdice alumni has had a major affect on my generation. I anticipated the Burn After Rolling mixtape more than I did my freshman year midterms. Once this mixtape dropped I was in the process of riding busses for hours on end, from state to state all I had was a carry on, my charger, & iPhone 3G. The music he was putting out at the time wouldn’t allow me to skip a track. I played the hell out this mixtape. I sat next to my boss on a ride from Louisiana to Alabama and didn’t say a word to him. I played the mixtape three or four times in a row. I had to hear what he was saying. I played this mixtape from the time it dropped to even after “Deal or No Deal” came out. You could tell he was going to do great things and everything he was putting out had college campuses across the nation buzzing. All of his music, like “Studio Loving” was a great song,”Who I Am” another great song “Chewy” as well. 90’s babies were very blessed to have Wiz, just look at his discography from “Prince of the City 2” a track like “Gotdam Love It” in 2007 to the 2015 track “Lit” – the growth of this artist can’t go ignored. He’s ten years in and I still don’t think he’s released some of his best music. Pittsburgh was a slow city for the music business,with Pittsburgh Slim being the biggest name to come out of there and then this young guy emerges wearing a big P chain definitely set the bar for other artists coming out of his city.
Following April 14, 2010 –a date I believe solidified his cult-like following–he changed the music scene forever with his online marketing scheme, the hash tag #kushandorangejuice became the sixth most trending topic, with Kush and Orange Juice gaining notice by becoming the No. 1 search and trending topics on Google and Twitter following its release and staying the #1 searched topic three days after its release as well. The mixtape is also considered a classic by most hip hop fans. It garnered critical acclaim, with New York Magazine calling the mixtape “a nice showcase of the youngun’s commercial appeal”, and that it “makes us think classic G-Funk (specifically, D.J. Quik) and a party mindset. Entertainment Weekly stated that the mixtape was “pretty solid”, and “difficult to resist”. PopMatters called it “a great listen.”Pitchfork Media rated the mixtape 7.2 out of 10, stating “for the most part, Kush and Orange Juice is a surprisingly relaxed and easy listen”. The mixtape cover art for the ones who weren’t familiar was a very classy homage to Temptation front man and Motown legend David Ruffin,& his album “Gentleman Ruffin”.
The immediate buzz spawned the billboard hot 100 chart topping single ,”Black and Yellow”. Becoming Wiz’s first number one single in the U.S. Remember when I mentioned people thought I was weird for playing his music? Well, “Black and Yellow” has sold 4,144,922 digital copies since Its release also going three times platinum. In 2009 I thought he already had a great foundation to create a huge following,but with the success of “Kush and Orange Juice” and then a billboard #1 single the sky was the limit for the young artist and most questioned how much higher he could go. Without a doubt he got much higher,pun definitely intended– accumulating all of the buzz from the mixtape, he not only won MTV’s “Hottest Breakthrough Hip Hop Artist of 2010” award, but also became the primary target in a bidding war between numerous labels. Even including hip hop heavyweight Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. We are talking about a guy who’s always followed his own path, even turning down the chance to co-headline a tour with rap phenom Drake in a time when almost every rapper felt like they needed some sort of collaboration with the Canadian. When twitter was in its early stages, I think he took advantage of reaching millions of fans and again changing the music scene by bringing back the importance of the mixtape. I guarantee if you were on twitter in 2010 and 2011, Mister Cap dominated your timeline. What does he do after dropping a successful mixtape and having a no. 1 single? Delivers again with mixtape “Cabin Fever”–offering a new style that many critics praised and noting that cabin fever may have been better then his follow-up album and debut with label Atlantic “Rolling Papers”. Cabin Fever is one of mixtape website datpiffs most successful tapes being downloaded over one million times.
Since then Wiz has released several other albums,& mixtapes featured on a number of hit songs garnering over 21 million followers on twitter. Established one of the most successful followings in today’s hip hop world with his Taylor Gang imprint. His work with rap legend Snoop Dogg only certifies his impact on the culture,from doing everything like smoking together,making music together and even featured in a movie together bridging platforms and showing how versitle wiz is. Helped reinforce the career of three 6 mafia front man Juicy j,gave his friends and fellow artists an amazing platform to build their own individual fan bases. Went from recording himself to releasing his extremely entertaining day today series now on Revolt Tv. I believe wiz khalifa and his personal photographer/videographer Dan Folger have changed the way artist use Instagram,keeping fans updated as well as inspired. While on his highly successful tour with rock band Fall Out Boy,in between shows and traveling it always felt so personal with the use of snapchat and how creative Dan Folger is in his interaction with fans you can almost guarantee you will see other artists have their own versions of Mr.Folger exactly how everyone jumped on the black and yellow wave and remixed their own versions.
It’s no doubt that wiz khalifa is one of the most successful artist in today’s rap game,very consistent,and always thinking about his fans I’m not sure if anyone especially with the longest running rap single of all time the heart felt tribute to deceased actor Paul Walker in “See You Again”,would’ve shot videos and dropped them before the audio was even released. Where most artist would be satisfied with a no. 1 single,while on tour he just kept feeding fans music. I’ve yet to see the artist perform live but it’s no secret that when the Taylor gang crew comes to your town it’s a must see event. Just as you finish reading this Wiz khalifa is soon to be off on another world tour,soon to release another album,and a highly anticipated mixtape. It’s safe to say Wiz khalifa isn’t going anywhere any time soon,and if you think he’s let down his day one fans at all you are highly mistaken. TGOD BOY!!
Words by: Siete??