Wiz Khalifa’s last Valley appearance was a sold-out show at Mesa Amphitheatre in late June, in which the Pittsburgh rapper commanded the stage, at 23, with the confidence of someone who’d been doing this for longer than he’s been alive. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was basking in the afterglow of taking home a best-new-artist trophy from the BET Awards two days earlier.
Since then, he’s added two BET Hip-Hop Awards to his collection while making his third appearance in the Top 10 of the Hot 100, this time with a track, “Young, Wild & Free,” that finds him joining forces with a hip-hop icon, Snoop Dogg.
Here’s Khalifa on the “Rolling Papers” tour, his chart-topping breakthrough, “Black and Yellow” and how he feels about awards.
Question: I saw you at the Mesa Amphitheatre earlier this year and what blew me away was that it felt like you’d been playing to crowds that big your whole life. Did performing live come natural to you?
Answer: Absolutely, man. My live performance, it just comes from feeling an energy and emotion from the crowd. I never got nervous performing my own material. I just did a Snoop tribute at the BMI Awards and I was nervous as crap doing that (laughs). But just going out there and doing my own stuff and being in front of my own people, man? I love it. It’s not even anything I have to practice or rehearse. I just get out there and do it.
Q: The other thing that really struck me at that show was how well the audience seemed to know the tracks that aren’t on “Rolling Papers” – like, the mixtape tracks.
A: I have a huge span of fans, some who know all my radio songs and are familiar with my popular stuff and then some who have their own personal favorites. When I do my show, I try to take into consideration all those people. And even the people who just know my popular songs, if they hear the mixtape songs and they never heard ‘em before, they’ll become a fan of that song right there while I’m performing it.
Q: How much of an impact do you think those mixtapes had on building your momentum going into “Rolling Papers?”
A: Huge impact. The mixtapes just really allowed me to get my personality out there, sort of like business cards.
more after the jump