He put Pittsburgh on the map with his smash hit "Black And Yellow" and you’re listening to him because he’s programmed it that way.
“I like to capture a frame of mind. Like, right here, my hotel got swans in it. Somebody would love to hear that my hotel got swans in the lobby,” chuckles Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, gesturing to live swans bobbing around a pool in the Embassy Suites in Austin, Texas. “I’ll keep that in my head and then I’ll drop it somewhere.” It’s the 23-year-old’s ability to encapsulate an experience with a sense of humor that has helped catapult Khalifa to hip-hop hierarchy.
The single "Black And Yellow" pays tribute to his hometown football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a propulsive chorus underpinned by percussion crafted by Norwegian powerhouse producing team, Stargate.
“People don’t really know why they like the song, but I programmed them to like the song,” he laughs of the single which went straight to No 1 in the U.S., in which he says “black and yellow” 48 times. “I’ve got plenty more songs where I’m programming them the same way. I’ve been using that formula on mixtapes and singles before.”
It has taken time for the man born Cameron Jibril Thomaz to crack that commercial code. Brought up in the U.K., Japan and around the U.S. as the son of military parents, Khalifa wrote his first rap, Kool Kat, at the age of six, inspired by his older cousins and uncles who were also budding rhymers. “I thought it was cool so I started writing too. I released my first album at, like, 14, and I was blindly going with the flow and going with my heart from there.”
For the full story pick up the June Red Bulletin Magazine.