With over 60,000 people crowding the Ben Franklin Parkway at this year's past Made In America Festival, maneuvering around the sea of people was no easy task. As I was talking to a young lady who worked for MTV, there it was: the text from my editor letting me know it was go time. Through late email correspondence, I was one of a select few given access to interview Wiz Khalifa. I made my way over to a well-guarded section of the press area, where it looked like a Pittsburgh Steelers linemen meeting rather than a green room.Introductions were made and I could already tell that the same laid-back persona that Wiz puts on stage and portrays through his music is whom he was when the cameras were off. We shared small talk, talking about how he randomly met my father in an airport, and how he thought Ishkabbible’s, my favorite Cheesesteak spot in town, had declined over the years. Afterwards, we got down to business.
So tell me about your new album, “Blacc Hollywood?”
“It’s really an artistic expression, and a lifestyle and a feeling. I’m saying things that people couldn’t really say on an everyday basis. It’s ‘80’s inspired, punk-inspired’ and you basically take whatever it is you have and make it the sh*t. That right there is what the album is all about.”
Coming into the game with some time in the industry, with your new sounds and your willingness to blend sounds together, do you see this happening all over?
“Yeah, I see people experimenting and having fun. Being through different cycles of the game, I’ve seen things change and come back full circle. I enjoy meeting new people, and younger people with fresh ideas. It keeps me sharp and keeps me creative. “
What are your thoughts on “Made In America?” and what it does for the music industry?
“I love it. It brings artists together who’ve heard of each other and might even be fans of each other in one space, and those meetings are how some really creative sh*t can come together. And it’s good for the people, fans of different genres being introduced to new music and taking that home with them, it’s a dope experience.”
So with your label mate “Uncle Juice” (Juicy J) dropping his new album, “Stay Trippy” recently, how do you feel about the project?
“Man, Juice is a legend. He knows how to work and go in the studio and just knock out bangers. For him to have a career for so long and touch so many fans across that span of time, it’s amazing. I learn so much from him on a day-to-day basis. And the album is 100% Juicy J, you know what you’re getting from that, and I’m sure the people will really love it, as well.”