FEATURE: Wiz Khalifa, Let’s Make a Deal
At the ripe age of 22, Wiz Khalifa has gone through more hoops and hurdles than the average rap rookie. The army brat, who claims Pittsburgh as his home turf, dropped his first mixtape back in 2005, which was followed a year later by the street album Show and Prove. Based on his music, Wiz was featured as an artist to watch in Rolling Stone and also inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records in ’07. Despite scoring a hit with “Say Yeah,” he never released an album as a result of the signing.
This past July, after dropping a number of mixtapes—including April’s highly successful Flight School—Wiz decided it was time to part ways with Warner. From there, he teamed with Curren$y to drop How Fly this past August. Yesterday (November 24), he finally dropped his debut disc, Deal or No Deal. Since his album borrows its title from the popular game show, XXLMag.com felt it fitting to throw a few propositions Wiz’s way to see which ones would stick.
XXLMag.com: A label exec guarantees that he can make your album No. 1 on the charts next week, but only if you stop smoking for six months. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: [Laughs] No deal. We always need to smoke. Well, nah, I’m gonna say deal… maybe. The only reason I would not smoke is to stay free; you know what I’m saying? I ain’t tryna go to jail, so if I was on probation or something, that’s the only way I wouldn’t smoke, man.
XXLMag.com: Hip-hop is known for being a young man’s sport. Let’s say your label drafted up a contract that came with a million-dollar signing bonus but had a clause that said you had to retire by 40. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: Wow. No deal. Well, I don’t like contracts [laughs]. For it to be telling me what I gotta stop doing? I need a contract that’s tellin’ me what I can do, and how much I’m gonna get paid for that shit. I’m always gonna be making music, too—forever. That’s my money. You can’t tell somebody they gotta stop rapping at 40 if they wanna still be gettin’ money. Wu-Tang and all them niggas, they do shows off the shit that they made when they was my age. Twenty years later, they still makin’ money off of it. No deal at all.
XXLMag.com: Your label offers you season tickets to the Steelers game for life or one night with Halle Berry. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: No deal. There ain’t no bitch in the world that’s [worth] just one night. For season tickets for life?! Man, one night ain’t worth it. Never. Not for me. I’m a huge Steelers fan, but it’s not even about the Steelers. It’s just, not no one night with no female, no matter who it is.
XXLMag.com: The NBA recently came out with rules for how their players can use Twitter. Let’s say your label head told you you have cut down on how often you tweet or you’ll get dropped. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: If they pay me, I’ll stop using Twitter. Twitter generates money. No deal, man. [I like it because] it generates money; it’s a way to connect with my fans. I can figure out who my target fan base is and be able to talk to them, let them know I’m a real person. Then they spread the word, tell their friends about it, and by the end of a month or two it’s about 10,000 to 15,000 new people who know about me just based off word of mouth that I wouldn’t get otherwise.
XXLMag.com: Let’s say your label rep offers you a $2 million advance tax free, but you have to get all your tats removed. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: No deal. I would never do nothing to compromise me; who I am as an artist; my image. I’m not compromising shit. I’m not not talking about what I wanna talk about, I’m not not wearing what I wanna wear. Somebody asked me to flip my brim down on my hat for a picture, I’m like, “No, my hat stays flipped up.” That’s me. So it’s an automatic no deal when it comes to compromising.
XXLMag.com: A successful rap career or the chance to be Editor-in-Chief of XXL? Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: Deal or no deal? Ah, I can’t deal with that pressure [Laughs]. No deal, man. That’s a no deal. That’s too much pressure, man.
XXLMag.com: A major label comes to you and says, “We’ll sign you for your asking price and drop your album tomorrow.” Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: No deal. ’Cause I don’t want my album out tomorrow and I just ain’t tryna get back with no major labels right now. Just the fact that I had one [major label deal] and now I’m out of it—it obviously didn’t work. And it wasn’t for any bad reasons. Warner’s a good company; I’m an exceptional artist. It’s just the game is different, so the fact that I had one and that didn’t work, that’s not the way to go for me. That ain’t gonna work for my career right now. It was nothing bad, though. I learned nothing but good shit over there at Warner. All that shit was new to me, so when I was around it, I paid attention to it. And now that I’m away from it, I can still apply my knowledge of that to what I’m doing right now. So it only made me better.
XXLMag.com: Let’s say you could go back and change something about the last three years since you released Show and Prove. Deal or no deal?
Wiz Khalifa: No deal, man. I don’t wanna change anything. Everything happens for a reason. It’s all a part of the process, and everybody got they own formula that makes the solution in the end, you know what I’m sayin’? So, fuck, I can’t change anything that happened in between ’cause I might not be at the same spot I’m at now. Somebody might wanna blow up quicker, but when you blow up quicker, you fall off just as fast. I’ve spent my time working, constantly grindin’, and I ain’t got nowhere else to go but up. —Adam Fleischer