Cameron Thomaz is focused. Better known as rapper Wiz Khalifa, he has gone from Internet sensation to a No. 1 record with his double platinum single, “Black and Yellow.” And with a ferociously loyal fan base, the Pittsburgh native has carved out a promising career in an increasingly ugly music climate.
Like his peers Curren$y and Big Sean, Wiz has taken his internet buzz and catapulted to the big leagues and a new major label deal. But Wiz has been here before. An earlier stint with Warner Brothers resulted in a parting of the ways over his creative direction. But that break might have been a blessing in disguise. That break was the start of him building his buzz on the net. And now the buzz for his laid back weed influenced raps is so loud that he felt comfortable turning down an opening slot on Drake’s latest tour and a spot on Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group roster.
The accolades keep coming. A performance of his hometown anthem at the Super Bowl and cover stories from Rolling Stone and hip-hop bible The Source have hailed him the Rookie Of The Year. Now with veterans like Snoop Dogg and Too Short in his corner supporting his movement it seems like it’s time for the former XXL Freshman to step fully into the spotlight with his debut album “Rolling Papers “
What is it about your relationship with your fans that makes them so diehard?
It’s because I’m so interactive with my fans. It’s like one of them made it. It’s as if I’m a fan rapping. And that support, just makes me want to go harder and be more creative for them. Just make new stuff for them to be happy and positive about.
You made it a point to maintain your independence. When Drake offered you the chance to tour you turned him down. Why?
It was nothing personal or anything like that. Even though it was just a few months ago, I was still way earlier in my career. It just wasn’t time for me to do anything like that. My tour did pretty well and I’m still cool with Drake. He didn’t take it personally.
Was that the thought process behind turning down Rick Ross’ offer to join Maybach Music?
Yeah. It wasn’t something that took long to think about either. Because I know what I’m doing at this point. Even though it was a honor for those dudes to extend their hand, I had to finish up what I already started.
Has your rep as a supporter of the environment and lover of “trees” ever hurt you in business?
(Laughing) Not really. When it comes to business everyone who I work closely, they see how professional I am. When I’m handling business, its straight business. As far as the trees, that’s just a part of who I am. I think maybe the public could probably get that perception but anybody that really knows me, knows better.
Along with a hit record comes increased attention. Gossip sites have been linking you to reality star Natalie Nunn of Bad Girls Club and former Kanye West paramour Amber Rose. How do you handle it?
If you think that you are going to reach success without people trying to be nosy and make your personal business their business then you are in the wrong business. As far as me I have always been a clean dude as far as staying straight and not getting in too much trouble. So anything that people are being nosy about is just them being nosy. Its not going to be anything that is going to change people’s opinion about me. I like to keep it like that. As long as I do then I will be straight.
Not known as a hot bed of hip-hop, Pittsburgh’s music mix is the foundation of your style. But just what is Pittsburgh’s style?
It’s always had a Southern or Midwest vibe. But we listen to everything. That’s what made my style. That’s why I like my beats real heavy but they gotta be melodic like on some mid west shit. But when I rap it’s hella lyrical. Not too many words but you can tell I take time with my lyricism. There’s elements from everywhere. And people say I have a West Coast vibe on how I talk or whatever. So they’re getting a little bit of everything.
Being a rookie isn’t easy. Having a couple of Hall Of Famers on speed dial and ready to give advice can make things easier though, right?
The best advice came from like Snoop and Too Short who have been in the game for years. Snoop’s album is coming out and Too Short is on my album. They said to stay relevant and to stay in people’s faces. Just always be working. And that’s what I’m doing