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Wiz Khalifa is rap's next big thing

of the Oakland Press

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With a Top 10 hit last year and guest features for Rick Ross and Wale, among others, Wiz Khalifa is on the cusp of breaking big.

And the Pittsburgh rapper, who’s been dubbed a next big thing by Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and XXL magazines, is ready for that moment to come.

“It’s a great build-up, man,” says Khalifa, 23, who hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 last year with “Black and Gold,” a song inspired by his home town Pittsburgh Steelers. “There’s a lot of different people just tuned into what’s going on. I’ve got a lot of opportunity to make new impressions and a lot of new fans, so I’m loving it.”

This is no overnight success story, however.

Khalifa (real name Cameron Thomaz) has released two independent albums and eight mixtapes — including last year’s “Kush & OJ” — and even had a deal with Warner Bros. Records. The latter never came to fruition, however, so Khalifa’s first major label set, due in March, will be on Atlantic Records. But despite the wait, he remains upbeat about his prospects — and the process that got him to this point.

“It wasn’t really frustrating,” says Khalifa, who’s just putting finishing touches on the album. “I’ve been working the entire time. I just stayed busy knowing the amount of work I need to put in. If I got frustrated, I think it would’ve kind of knocked me off and sidetracked me instead of me just doing what I had to do.

“So I felt like it was a good thing, in a way. I stayed hungry — and I’m still hungry.”

Wiz Khalifa performs twice on Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the early show, 10 p.m. for the late show. Both are sold out. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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