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Wiz Khalifa's life not the same, but he's still having fun

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Wiz Khalifa
Miko Kim
Wiz Khalifa

Since he released his last album. ‘O.N.I.F.C.,” Wiz Khalifa has had a major change in his home life, as he and his wife, model Amber Rose, had a son, Sebastian, in February 2013.

As an artist who says he tries to make music that reflects his life, it's not surprising that Khalifa feels fatherhood has affected his creativity and his music.

“All of my music comes from just living and life, and as long as I'm feeling happy and creative and (having) fun in my life, I'm able to make that kind of music,” Khalifa says.

“So, having a son, I've been able to experience things with him, whether it be, like, singing all day or laughing and being silly and just joking and stuff like that, whereas before, my life might have been a little bit more serious during those times. Just being a happier individual, just having him to take me away, it takes my mind away from everything, and then I can go back to it, that's really what's different and helped me have a different approach.”

In May, he released his latest mixtape, “28 Grams,” which was far more substantial than similar projects, checking in with a whopping 28 tracks.

Meanwhile, “Blacc Hollywood,” the studio album Khalifa originally talked of releasing before the end of 2013, is now set for release on Aug. 19. Khalifa feels “Blacc Hollywood” represents his best work yet.

“I was able to work more hands-on with this one, sort of the way I am with my mixtapes, where we strive for the best and we really don't settle or accept anything other than the best,” Khalifa says.

If “Blacc Hollywood” is as good as Khalifa seems to think it is, it figures to be one of the biggest hip-hop albums of 2014. This is an artist, after all, who took the fast track to stardom.

Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz in 1987, has been the most popular hip-hop artist to break out of the scene in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

After releasing two indie albums and several mix tapes, Khalifa released his major label debut album, “Rolling Papers,” in March 2011.

With its chart-topping single, “Black and Yellow,” released in advance of the album, “Rolling Papers” went on to sell about 800,000 copies and made him a major presence on the hip-hop scene.

His second album, “O.N.I.F. C.,” arrived in December 2012. It didn't match the success of “Rolling Papers,” but it produced a top 20 single in “Work Hard, Play Hard.”

Khalifa still calls Pittsburgh home and frequently touts the virtues of the city in interviews. He says he still feels plenty of love from hometown fans whenever he performs locally.

He thinks the city's hip-hop scene has only gotten better since he started making waves locally in 2004.

“It's good because there's a lot more opportunities to make something of yourself, whether it's like recording people in the studio, social media, traveling and doing shows,” Khalifa says. “There's way more of an outlet for artists than there was back when I was coming up.”

That said, Khalifa doesn't want to take too much credit for paving the way for Pittsburgh hip-hop artists that have followed him.

“I'd like to think I definitely inspired some people to say that they could do it in their own way, make similar things happen,” he says. “I wouldn't say I was responsible for opening any doors or anything like that because the same opportunities that were there for me are still there for everybody else. It's just up to individuals to take them.

“So, I don't really like to take too much credit, but if somebody wants to give it to me, I'll take it,” Khalifa says cheerfully.

Khalifa will be back for a hometown show Aug. 1 at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown. He'll be headlining the “Under the Influence of Music” tour.

This is the third straight year Khalifa has taken the “Under the Influence” tour on the road, and once again, it boasts a strong lineup that features Young Jeezy, Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, Mack Wilds, Iamsu!, Sage The Gemini, DJ Drama and Rich Homie Quan.

Khalifa, who is very involved in selecting the acts for the tour, thinks this year's edition will deliver what the fans want.

“A lot of the artists have really big music and songs on the radio and fan bases that as soon as they (audiences) hear those songs, they're going to be happy,” Khalifa says. “That's the idea, just to make people happy and make people excited.”

As for his own set, Khalifa figures to include at least a couple of “Blacc Hollywood” tracks in his set. Good bets include the two songs that have been released ahead of the album — “We Dem Boyz” (which went top 5 on Billboard's hot rap songs chart) and “KK” (a track that features guest vocals from Project Pat and Juicy J). Both tracks celebrate the joys of Khalifa's favorite drug (marijuana), with the latter song giving its props to attractive women, to friends and to the benefits of living large.

But Khalifa says his set won't focus on the new album.

“I'm pretty much just going to be performing hits and stuff people know, as well as (fitting) in some fun stuff that just makes sense for the time,” he says. “I really just want to try and be relevant. I had the album ‘O.N.I.F.C.' that came out last year, and I haven't had the chance to perform those songs (live), as well as some new material. So, it's just going to be a lot of fun.”

Alan Sculley is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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