The always outspoken Wiz Khalifa recently talked to Playboy for the latest installment of their 20 Questions series about his career and personal growth, as well as a discussion about Black Lives Matter and racism in the industry.
The most interesting bit was Wiz’s assertion that he’s currently in his reinvention stage, “like when Justin Bieber was a child and then transformed himself into a different person but one who was still successful.” It seems like an outlandish claim until you consider the massive cultural impact of “See You Again.” The Paul Walker tribute was nominated for a Grammy (and deserved an Oscar nod, according to Bun B) and was the first hip-hop music video to reach 1 billion YouTube views. Taylor Swift even trotted Wiz out to perform it during her 1989 tour, cementing its place in pop culture.
The analogy isn’t exactly perfect, but it’s easy to connect the dots. Bieber changed his public image with a redemption tour and grown up music like “Where Are U Now” and “Sorry,” and now Wiz wants to do the same. “I was a streetwear brand, and now I’m a high–end designer,” the Pittsburgh rapper stated. “People are going to accept me as a grown man. A lot of people don’t even know I’m only 28 because I’m kind of ageless.”
In addition, the interview covered growing up in a “fucked–up and really dark” Pittsburgh amidst shootings and gang violence, where cops were putting guns to his head during even routine traffic stops. This upbringing obviously gave Wiz valuable insight into Black Lives Matter.
It’s about knowledge. A lot of people are surprised that this still exists, and when the media puts it out there, people get upset. But it’s about education and figuring out how to defend yourself and how to fight back and not be a victim.
At the same time, however, Wiz’s approach to the race discussion around the Oscars is to not give it attention. “Black people should boss up and say ‘We don’t give a fuck,’ and then really not give a fuck,” he explained. “If you nominate me and I get an award, cool. But if you don’t, I don’t give a fuck.
Read the full interview at Playboy to learn about how his divorce from Amber Rose allowed him to be more present, and more about his possibly still simmering beef with Kanye West. Rolling Papers 2 is due for release this summer.