Nobody Beats The Wiz
Wiz Khalifa is riding on a high right now, but not the kind that those who’ve followed his journey as an artist may think. While a number of his blog era contemporaries-turned-bonafide-superstars have opted to temper the number of projects they release at this juncture in their careers, Wiz has leaned in, giving the people what they want through a succession of musical releases, albeit collaboratively.
Nearly four years removed from the release of his last solo album, Rolling Papers 2, the Pittsburg native and Cali resident has spent the past few calendars dropping musical projects with his band of friends within the business. After teaming up with Curren$y for their long-awaited reunion project, 2009, and locking in with frequent collaborators Sledgren and Cardo on Wiz Got Wings, Khalifa kicked off 2022 with a pair of joint projects: Stoner’s Night with Juicy J and Full Court Press. The latter finds him joining forces with Smoke DZA, Big K.R.I.T., and producer Girl Talk. He’s also made it a top priority to thrust his Taylor Gang roster to the forefront with various compilations and mixtapes showcasing their talents, proof he’s still all about spreading the love and finding strength in numbers.
For a guy churning out music at such a rapid clip, it’d be safe to assume that Wiz Khalifa lives in the studio—which is exactly the case. He’s become a studio rat in large part by having one in close proximity to his living quarters. Spending his early years recording and developing his sound in studios like Pittsburgh’s ID Labs, the rap veteran decided to build one of his own, creating a recording space at his home in Encino, CA. With the help of Augspurger, which specializes in studio monitors and speakers, Wiz now has one of the most powerful sound systems at his disposal, which is also used by the likes of Dr. Dre, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, and more.
And with his forthcoming album, Multiverse, the long-awaited follow-up to Rolling Papers 2, slated to drop this summer, and another album with Curren$y in the works, he’s certainly going to need extra reinforcement for the booming sonics he and his musical coconspirators are creating.
VIBE spoke with Wiz Khalifa about taking his recording process in-house with Augspurger, finding joy in collaboration, creating Multiverse, and the rap icon he wants to trade verses with for an entire album before it’s all said and done.
VIBE: After spending a large portion of your career recording in other peoples’ studios, you’ve recently begun creating the majority of your albums from the comfort of your home. What spurred that decision and when did that transition begin?
Wiz Khalifa: I wanted to have the option to go in and record at any moment of inspiration. I started building my home studio last year.
How has recording in your own studio impacted your artistry or approach to creating music?
I’m the most comfortable at home, so my brain and creativity can really open up in an organic way. Also, the homies get to come in and collaborate while we’re all hanging out, and some of the best nights at the crib have turned into great songs.
You spent your early years recording music at ID Labs back in Pittsburgh. What are some of the lessons and tools of the trade you learned there that you’re using today?
I learned almost everything about recording at ID Labs with E. Dan. He has been with me from the beginning. And setting the vibe in the room is super important. Being respectful but having fun is the environment at ID Labs and what I create.
Aside from yourself, who are some of the artists you’ve had grace your vocal booth thus far?
We always gotta have the Taylor Gang guys in the booth like Fedd the God, Juicy J, Chevy Woods, and Young Deji, to name a few. We’ve also had Tyla Yaweh come through, and we’re excited to get more of the homies to pull up on the new music I’m working on.
Do you handle any of the engineering during sessions that take place at the studio? If so, what’s it like being on the opposite side of the board for a change?
Shout out to my engineers Aaron Dahl and E. Dan of ID Labs. I post up right next to them and we work together on all my songs. I’m super involved in the process and have learned a lot about it over the years.
You recently worked with Augspurger to install a huge speaker system at the studio. Their equipment has also been used by the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Alicia Keys, just to name a few. How did that relationship develop?
The Augspurger guys have been the homies for a few years—I met them through E. Dan of ID Labs. They always make sure I’ve got the best setup.
How has Augspurger helped enhance the overall quality of your studio?
The quality of my home studio has been majorly enhanced by Augspurger overall. The sound and placement of the speakers is on point, and it’s the most important feature of the studio.
You kicked off this year by releasing Stoner’s Night, your collaborative album with Juicy J. Being that you’ve worked together for more than a decade, how has the creative chemistry between the two of you evolved?
Juicy J and I have a really close friendship and amazing chemistry when recording. He knows exactly what he wants and how he wants a song to sound and I’m always right in there helping bring the vision to life. We respect and trust each other to do what we do best and we always have a good time.
You also teamed up with Smoke DZA, Big K.R.I.T., and Girl Talk for the Full Court Press album, which dropped earlier this year as well. Who spearheaded that project and how did all of the moving parts come together?
Girl Talk got us all together a while back and we were mostly just partying, smoking, kicking it, having fun, and each of us would go in and do our thing and it turned into a really great body of work. We finally got everything together to release it and we’re excited to share it with the world.
Being that you, DZA, and K.R.I.T. all made your bones during the same era, what was it like working with those guys as a unit, given the history y’all have with one another?
They’re all amazing people. We all came up in different ways but around the same time so it was fun to exchange stories and things we have learned in our careers. We all get along really well and have great chemistry when it comes to making music.
One artist fans are always eager to hear you alongside is Curren$y, with whom you released the album 2009 a few years back. What are the prospects of the two of you linking back up again for another project?
Curren$y and I are definitely linking up soon to put another project out for the fans. I love that dude and I’m excited to get back into the studio with him. I’ll go out to him in New Orleans and have him pull up to my spot in LA.
Being that you’re open to working in tandems and groups, if there was one collaborative project you could have on your resume with an artist you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?
I would really like to work with Jay-Z.
Your forthcoming solo album, Multiverse, is slated to drop later this year. What inspired that title and what can the fans expect?
The title comes from the unique world that I live in and experience. It’s one of my favorite projects to date and I’m so excited for the fans to come into my world and go crazy with it.
Is there a timetable for its release?
We’re dropping it in the summer and you will definitely see me perform the album on my summer tour.
Who are some of the artists and producers you’ve worked with for this project?
What’s next for Wiz Khalifa, creatively, in business, or otherwise?
I’m super excited to release my next album Multiverse and go on the Vinyl Verse Summer Tour with Logic, 24KGoldn, DJ Drama, Fedd the God, and C Dot Castro. I’ve got my Khalifa Kush business expanding in several states across the country, my gin brand McQueen and the Violet Fog going crazy in sales, and I’m creative directing for the PFL. We’ve got a new season with my voiceover character on the animated series Duncanville, and a couple more TV and movie appearances on the way.