Two days after celebrating 4/20, Wiz Khalifa is still observing the smoker-friendly holiday while speaking to Billboard.
At 4:20 in the afternoon, the weed aficionado and proud creator of KK (Khalifa Kush) pays homage to the cannabis culture by lighting up a massive joint in between questions. It’s reassuring to know that the man who was the face of mainstream weed rap in the 2010s remains on-brand, even during a global pandemic.
At the start of quarantine last month, Khalifa flexed his excellence when he engaged in a fierce and smoky battle royale on Instagram called the Kush Up Challenge. Created by Gillie the Kid, the battle let rappers compete to see who had the best stamina while inhaling weed. Of course, top-tier legends Khalifa and Snoop Dogg emerged victorious.
“My All-Star Kush-Up Team would have to be Curren$y, Snoop [Dogg], B-Real, Smoke DZA, Jim Jones, Berner, Sosaman, Xzibit and Ty Dolla $ign,” Khalifa quips. “You know we winning that sh-t.”
Besides trouncing the opposition for recreational purposes, Khalifa has also kept rivals on their toes on the music front with his new seven-track EP, The Saga of Wiz Khalifa. By leaning on the ears and strategies of APG’s CEO Mike Caren, Edgar Machuca, APG A&R and Riggs Morales, vp of A&R at Atlantic Records, Khalifa aimed for home-run records through his relationships with producers such as Mustard, Hitmaka and D.A. Doman.
“This was more of the direction that I wanted to go in when I sat down and told them these are the type of beats I want to work with, these are the producers I want to work with, and these are relationships I want to show off. It was a collective [effort] putting the whole album together. That’s why to me, it’s more than an EP — it’s a real album just because of how everybody was involved with it and how we put the pieces together,” he says.
A highlight from The Saga of Wiz Khalifa includes the Pittsburgh MC’s reworking of Dr. Dre’s 1999 single “Still D.R.E.” for his track “Still Wiz.” Produced by Hitmaka, Wiz follows the hook’s cadence but shifts the song’s theme to fit his opulent lifestyle.
“I was on the way to Dubai one morning, and I hit up Hitmaka because he’s really good at flipping classics. To me, that’s one of his really special abilities is to have an ear for classics from our generation and then make em’ now,” says Khalifa. “When I wanted to flip ‘Still D.R.E.,’ it being such a West Coast classic, I went to him. Shout-out to Derrick Milano for writing the hook. They sent that back to me in like 20 minutes. It didn’t take time at all. I was able to write the verses and kind of personalize it and make it mine.”
Though the process seemed quick, Khalifa made sure he received clearance from the song’s creators to push the record forward. According to him, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z (who co-wrote the track), Mel-Man and Scott Storch all OK’d “Still Wiz.” “Having all of those legends bless that song and allow me to drop it, I gotta make sure it goes super, duper far,” he adds.
Another standout from the project includes his star-studded collaboration “Y U Mad” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, Ty Dolla $ign, and Mustard. Destined for TikTok gold, the song could very well become the ultimate anti-hater anthem of 2020.
“When I got to know [Megan], I got to really see how smart she is and how intelligent about music she is,” Khalifa says regarding his friendship with the “Savage” rapper. “She knows all types of music. She knows old-school, she knows my era of weed and cool rap, she knows Max B, she knows Dipset, she knows everything. So for me to see that in any artist, especially a new artist, I’m going to gravitate towards them. And it’s a woman? I’m like, ‘Wow. You’re really a gangsta if you know that sh-t.'”
Watch the full interview with Wiz Khalifa above where he also talks about his role on Fox’s animated series Duncanville, his favorite moment from recording Kush and Orange Juice, and spending time with his son Sebastian during quarantine.