The Big Q&A: Wiz Khalifa Talks Waken Baken Tour, Steelers Wanting ‘Black And Yellow’, Being Targeted By Police
Buried in the clouds, Wiz Khalifa’s chartered flight on his headlining Waken Baken tour recently landed the Pittsburgh native in Gotham City. Without an empty space in the crowd, the hip-hop hippie light up the Best Buy theater in Times Square. Following the show, VIBE caught the Taylor Gang pilot rolling up another paper square inside Atlantic offices, where he spoke on the Taylor Gang movement, diversity in his fanbase, shaking off labels, his next release, and more. —Mikey Fresh
I think this last show really won a lot of music critics over in the Big Apple.
[Laughs] Yup, New York, man. I think wherever you go, when people hear good music, they will react to it. All I try to do is go onstage and have fun and be myself. I want everyone else to just let go. There wasn’t really anything that made New York feel different. They smoke just as much weed, know all the words, and go just as loud. My fans all react crazy out here, just the same. I think it’s more of a Taylor thing, than a regional thing. Being that it was in such a critical city, it was good for other people who dont believe to see that.
Was forming the Taylor Gang movement always the plan?
I always hoped that I would get to this level and have these kinds of fans, and as I got older and learned more about the business, marketing, and branding, I saw that I could do my own thing. I was always a part of other artists’ cult followings when I was younger. I was a big Bone Thugs, Wu-Tang fan. I was into it but I didn’t understand how I could develop my own movement.
When you performed “Glasshouse” with Big K.R.I.T. and Currensy for the first time, it felt like the record had been out for a decade. The crowd reaction you get is unlike most other “new” artists.
It felt like we were on HBO. We can do whatever we want to do. That’s how it is right now with this game. We have more control over the music. With our own fanbase, can’t nobody really tell us “no” to anything. We do what we want to do and there’s definitely enough bread in this thing to keep it going.
I just talked to Yelawolf who was saying how there was a number of times where he was booed while opening up for you. Why do you think that happened to him?
Yela is just a talented dude. I wanted to have him on the tour because he’s so homegrown and grassroots. We got the same goals. I believe in him. I know some of the cities were rough but his heart is so huge that he made it work. Later on down the road when he’s a superstar, he can laugh about it. It’s just building character.