Khalifa gets Wiz Day decree for reppin'

Peduto says rapper an 'ambassador' for city, today is his day


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In Pittsburgh, 12-12-12 has lined up as Wiz Khalifa Day.

The rap star, who performs tonight at Consol Energy Center, made an appearance Tuesday morning in council chambers to accept a proclamation from councilman Bill Peduto, who called him an "ambassador for the city" and declared Wednesday Wiz Khalifa Day.

Khalifa, whose real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz, was joined by his pregnant fiancee, model Amber Rose; his mother, Katie Wimbush; his grandfather Jibril Abdul-Hafeef; and his manager Benjy Grinberg, among others. The heavily tattooed rapper sported a black leather biker jacket and a cap that read "DOPE" -- hip-hop slang for cool -- in large letters.

There was a small crowd, as the event was kept a secret to prevent the City-County Building from being mobbed by fans.

The 25-year-old rapper, who was born in North Dakota but grew up here and graduated from Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, accepted the award humbly, saying, "It means a lot to me, being a kid from Pittsburgh and riding the buses and going to school out here and just loving Pittsburgh so much. Even when I moved here when I was younger, I told people I was from Pittsburgh, and that was it. So, to come so far, and represent, and have everybody be proud of me -- I don't even feel like I'm doing that great. I can do better and better."

Afterward, meeting reporters in the hallway, he elaborated: "I just feel like when I change people's lives with my music, that's the start. But when I start doing it with other things, then that's when it'll get bigger and better, so this is just the beginning."

Mr. Peduto, who introduced the proclamation at the request of Khalifa's grandfather, said in an interview Tuesday, "He is an artist from Pittsburgh who is recognized worldwide and helps to promote Pittsburgh in his songs. 'Black and Yellow' has become a Pittsburgh anthem that Steelers fans wave their Terrible Towels to and the Steelers use to promote our football team -- to dance clubs throughout the world.

"Somebody who has made it to the top of his industry, no matter what that industry may be, at such a young age, and does it with a pride for the city that he calls home, it made it an easy request to fulfill."

Khalifa noted that the baby boy is due early next year and that he and Rose plan to marry in March or April. He assured people that, even though he spends most of his time living in Los Angeles, his son will be a Steelers fan. There may be a Pennsylvania-wide conflict there, however. When asked about that, Rose joked, "Well, I'm from Philly ... "

Khalifa topped the singles chart in early 2010 with his multiplatinum hometown anthem, "Black and Yellow," coinciding with the Steelers run to the Super Bowl. His Rostrum/Atlantic debut, "Rolling Papers," debuted at No. 2 on the charts and has been certified gold.

This month, while on the 2050 Tour, the four-time Grammy nominee released the follow-up, "O.N.I.F.C.," which stands for "Only [N----] in First Class." It is expected to debut at No. 2 on the album charts behind Taylor Swift's "Red."

Along with his success, Khalifa also has generated some controversy for his well-documented use of marijuana and numerous arrests for possession while on tour. There's even a strain of marijuana named after him called Khalifa Kush. He recently told Larry King that it enhances his creativity: "It makes me feel like I can get everything done in the right order."

Mr. Peduto said he has gotten a "limited" amount of negative reaction to the proclamation. "I tell them when I was younger, I was listening to people like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia and Joe Strummer, all of whom had different issues with substances. If any of them were from Pittsburgh and I was honoring them, I don't think I'd get the same type of reaction."

neigh_city

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg. First Published December 12, 2012 5:00 AM


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