Four years ago, rapper Wiz Khalifa shared headlining duties with Fall Out Boy at Blossom. The wiry, dreadlocked singer had energy to spare and even ran to the lawn to sing “Taylor Gang.” Having a live band really helped bring out the nuances of his music, and his set ended on a high note with a one-song encore that featured the poppy crossover hit, “See You Again.”
While hip-hop stars tend to come and go like the wind, Khalifa has defied the odds. His popularity hasn’t declined since that concert, and he can still pack arenas and outdoor sheds.
He brings his Decent Exposure tour featuring Moneybagg Yo, Chevy Woods, Playboi Carti, French Montana and DJ Drama to Blossom
on Tuesday, July 30.
“The artists on the tour all have different styles, and they are really great rappers and musicians,” says Khalifa in a recent conference call with a group of reporters. “Moneybagg Yo is coming up on the underground scene and not really underground but more on the club scene in the urban world. He’s going to get to experience a new fan base as well as bringing his fan base with them. With Playboi Carti, you’ve got a lot of young energy, and he’s real fun. So, kids are going to get a different vibe from what they get from me on the normal. They’ll get that from him. French Montana got the hits, so everybody’s going to be able to jam, and I have a great time. DJ Drama was going to keep everybody excited and pumped up in between because that’s what he does. He’s great at that, and I’m going to come through and knock everything out the park.”
Khalifa released his debut, Show and Prove
, in 2006, and it was so successful that he inked a major label deal in the wake of its release. The hits came fast and furious, and Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow,” a tribute to Pittsburgh’s sports teams, would become a major anthem. The Steelers even used it as their fight song in the 2011 Super Bowl.
The aforementioned “See You Again,” a huge crossover hit, came out in 2015 on the Furious 7
soundtrack and sat atop the Billboard charts for 12 weeks.
Last year, Khalifa, delivered Rolling Papers 2
, a 25-song effort that serves as a followup to 2011’s Rolling Papers
, the album that features “Black and Yellow.” Rolling Papers 2
includes guest appearances by Gucci Mane, Swae Lee, Ty Dolla Sign, PartyNextDoor, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and fellow pothead Snoop Dogg.
Slow-motion songs such as the ratcheting “Hot Now” and the melodic title track enable Khalifa to deliver tongue-twisting raps to percolating beats. On “Penthouse,” the tune that features Snoop Dogg, Khalifa and Snoop Dogg trade rhymes to a gnarly guitar riff that cuts in and out of the song, giving it a nu-metal feel.
“I’m always wanting to top myself musically,” says Khalifa. “So, there’s more new music on the way. [I’m doing] stuff for TV, animated series, executive producing TV shows and working with my artists and making sure that their careers go the way that they’re supposed to go.”
Earlier this year, Khalifa participated in what he describes as a particularly satisfying collaboration when he cut a commercial for Oreos with his son Sebastian.
“Yeah, that’s definitely [his voice] on there [at the song’s end],” says Khalifa. “That one was crazy, and it was fun making a commercial because he’s really a natural, and he’s not the type of kid where you got to coach him too much or make him do anything out of his character. All of the reactions were real and everything else was solid. I was real proud.”
Khalifa says he dubbed the current tour because Decent Exposure to show just far we’ve come as a culture in terms of accepting behaviors that were once considered taboo.
“I wanted to come up with something that sounded bad, but then we make it good and a lot of the things that I associate with my tour names, and my humor with, is the fact that we’re in a day and age where things before that weren’t legal,” says Khalifa, a big advocate of legalizing marijuana (he even has his own line of weed dubbed Khalifa Kush), “they’re legal now. So instead of indecent exposure, which you’ll probably get in trouble for a lot of the things that you do that you would’ve done before, it is decent now. So, it’s cool to act the fool. So, we’re going to wild out, we’re going to have fun.”
At age 31, Khalifa might be too young to be an elder statesman and too old to be part of the new guard, but he’s still got several things working in his favor.
“I think I represent talent, hustle and just mind elevation in general,” he says.
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