The laid-back rapper lets the good times roll on another smoking party set

Among the artists originally slated to guest on Wiz Khalifa’s fifth album, Blacc Hollywood, was Miley Cyrus. The controversial pop star’s presence probably wouldn’t have hurt sales, but if Wiz is bummed or angry about her track getting cut, he doesn’t show it. This will surprise no one acquainted with the rapper’s work. Born in North Dakota, raised in Pittsburgh, and now based in L.A., Khalifa is the most laid-back MC since Snoop Dogg—his co-star in the 2012 stoner comedy Mac and Devin Go to High School.

Khalifa would have been happy to have Miley on the record, but he’s certain it’ll smoke anyway. The same goes for him—literally. “Damn, I’m smoking weed in my Mercedes,” Wiz raps on “We Dem Boyz,” the disc’s lead single. “That’s just a great song, which every artist needs to start it out,” says Khalifa. “The album is basically the story of my life. It’s everything I’m into in song form.”

Produced by Noel “Detail” Fisher, “We Dem Boyz” is a pulsating synth-powered banger about sex, money and, of course, marijuana, the subject of countless Wiz jams. The music is tense, but with this 26-year-old on the mic, there’s absolutely nothing to be nervous about. As for the rest of the album, Wiz says he and his team of producers explore a wide range of beats and styles. You can do that when you’ve got one of the most effortlessly elastic flows in the rap game. “It’s definitely varied on the record,” Khalifa says. “You listen to my music, I can do a West Coast beat. I can do an electronic beat. Blacc Hollywood is a mixture of everything.”

In addition to Detail, production duties fell to a relatively small group of studio aces: pop kingpin Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson), hip-hop hit-maker Jim Jonsin (Lil Wayne, Pitbull), and I.D. Labs—the Pittsburgh duo Wiz has been working with since Rolling Papers, his 2011 major-league debut. “That was really important,” Khalifa says of re-enlisting I.D. Labs. “Just keeping the sound consistent and building on that.”

The same goes for guest rappers. He’s got Ty Dolla Sign, Juicy J and a few others, but mostly it’s him and his Taylor Gang posse busting the kinds of lackadaisical good-time rhymes on which they’ve built their reps. While some rappers strive to seem as hard as possible, Wiz is fine with being known for party-rap anthems.

“I’m completely comfortable with that,” he says. “I don’t listen to music to get aggressive or mad. Music is an escape for me, so when I’m making my music, I want people to escape and feel good about life.”

–Kenneth Partridge

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