Preview: Wiz goes more for vibe on 'O.N.I.F.C.'
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Wiz Khalifa tweeted on Tuesday "Smoke smthn and chill," but he had little time for that.
There's a new record out, a baby on the way, a 2050 Tour to play and every entertainment news outlet wants a piece of him.
On Tuesday, the head of the Taylor Gang checked in by phone from New York just before getting on a plane for a show in South Carolina.
It was release day for "O.N.I.F.C.," the Pittsburgh rap star's follow-up to his 2010 Atlantic/Rostrum debut, "Rolling Papers." No one can complain that he's made "Rolling Papers 2," as this album -- with production from ID Labs, Pharrell, Benny Blanco, Stargate and Sledgren, and guest spots from Akon, Cam'ron, 2Chainz, the Weeknd and others -- flows like one chill piece rather than a collection of pop songs.
"It's totally different than 'Papers,' actually," he said. "It's more of a conceptual album, more of a vibe, more of a mood. 'Rolling Papers' it was a lot of good songs, but I didn't have the time to put the concept and the work into it that I have on this one."
Some of the early reviews of "O.N.I.F.C." have noted that Khalifa limited his rhymes to his usual buzz topics of weed, money and fame.
"I would say those people haven't listened to the album fully," he said, "because if you listen to songs like 'Time,' 'Medicated,' 'Rise Above,' 'Let it Go,' those are songs that are directly not about weed, money. There might be a bar or two where I say something about it, but the point of the song isn't just those things, so I would say that people just need to listen deeper."
Coinciding with the release, Khalifa is out on the 2050 Tour, named by a rapper friend during a signature Taylor Gang moment.
"We were smoking weed with Juicy J," he said, "and he hit the weed and said, 'Man, I feel like I'm in 2050.' "
Like when he headlined the First Niagara Pavilion this summer, the tour finds him out with a live band that expands the sound beyond the DJ beats of Bonics.
"It just opens it up more, makes me able to feel it," he said. "Just be able to do more and have more fun out there on stage. I'm not limited to just the set list. I can go off and do other things."
Sometime this month, Khalifa and fiance Amber Rose will do a courthouse wedding -- "I'm in LA way more than I'm in Pittsburgh," he said, so it will likely be there -- and then a bigger celebration after the baby arrives in early 2013.
"Just mentally, [I'm] getting ready to have a whole addition to my family," he said, "I don't think there's too much that you can do, until it actually happens. I'm just trying to prepare everything I can around the house, so the day he comes I'll be ready."
It will be a time of great changes, but he expects the work flow to remain steady. He has been working almost constantly for years and doesn't expect that fatherhood will slow that down too much, in light of the new release.
"I feel the music is going to catch on and people are going to want more and more from the project, and it's going to be up to me to keep giving it to them."
First Published December 6, 2012 12:00 am