The Making of Wiz Khalifa's "Rolling Papers"

Read about the stories behind the the songs from those involved in making the Pittsburgh rapper's major label debut.

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Behind every “overnight sensation” is actually years of hard work. Just ask Wiz Khalifa or anyone else who has been following his work for the past five years and they'll tell you—Wiz has put in a ton of work to get to where he’s at. The Pittsburgh MC first started rapping at 16 and dropped independent albums in 2006 (Show and Prove) and 2009 (Deal or No Deal). But Wiz didn’t truly make his mark until last year when he dropped his excellent mixtape, Kush & Orange Juice, for free download. A groovy, hazy, carefree listen, it was one of the best albums of last year and it even became a trending topic on Twitter the day it dropped—giving credence to Wiz’s organic buzz.

Like Drake, with all eyes on him after releasing an acclaimed mixtape, Wiz set out to record his major label debut. Last year, he came out with “Black and Yellow”—an anthem for his hometown of Pittsburgh which rocketed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The hit propelled his album Rolling Papers to debut at #2 and sell 191,000 copies earlier this year.

That’s why Complex decided to get with everyone involved with creating the young rapper’s major label debut including producers like Stargate, Jim Jonsin, and Benny Blanco, rappers like Curren$y, Too $hort, and Chevy Woods, and even the A&Rs who handled the project. And of course, we spoke with the star of the show himself, Wiz Khalifa. So click ahead to find out how Wiz initially thought the “Black and Yellow” hook was corny, which song was inspired by the strip club, and how much drinking he was actually doing while making the songs. This is The Making of Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers...

As told to Toshitaka Kondo (@ToshitakaKondo) & Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

"When I'm Gone"

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Produced by: E. Dan and Big Jerm

Wiz Khalifa: “In my mind, I was just trying to do everything different. I didn’t want it to sound like Kush and OJ or use the Kush and OJ flows because I had a lot of people watching me from the label and my own people.

”So they would know if I was just reusing and redoing the same things over and over. So for the album personally I wanted to take it to the next level. The mind state was to do the biggest records possible, not hold back anything, and not do anything just for the sake of doing it. People don’t get it right away, it takes time and years from now they’ll understand what I was doing.

“I made that song in June. I usually record at night, so that was a nighttime song. I was in Pittsburgh, I jumped in my yellow car and drove down to the studio. I think I was drunk that night as well as high. For this whole album I didn’t write nothing down on paper. It was just me smoking in the booth, making it up as I went. Other than ‘On My Level,’ that was the very first song that we did for the album. It was like the first song that we were like, ‘Aight, this is for the album.’

“E. Dan made that beat from scratch. I think I told him the vibe that I wanted and he went with it and it took him about two hours. I think Jerm did the drums on it. As soon as the beat was done I put the hook straight on it. It took me about 15 minutes to do the hook. I think I finished the verse and the hook that day. I did a first verse and the hook that day and I tried to start the second verse, but the first verse was way too hard so I couldn’t get to it, so I think I came back the next day and finished that one up.”

E. Dan: “I started working with Wiz in 2004 when he was 16. He came in to the studio as a client working on a mixtape. I called him up at some point because I was really impressed with the level of talent he had. I was sort of blown away by the charisma he had. He was sort of one of the first guys at the studio here out of a local scene that I really wanted to work with. We just got to working on stuff outside of what he was doing and we put some songs together. We’ve been working with him ever since.

“In the studio with Wiz, it’s definitely fun. We just sort of hang out. I don’t think it’s ever really a super intense situation where we feel like we gotta do something right now. We just sort of hang out, talk about music, or talk about what we might want to do for the night and just start working on stuff from there.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “It’s one of the ones that was done really early on. I would say a couple of months after we did the deal before we started working because he was still out touring and that was one of the songs he did on his own back in Pittsburgh. I just remember listening to it and just being really excited because you could tell that he was really thinking about every record and that he had things that he wanted to say.

”Every one of these rappers comes in with their own producer that they’ve worked with and a lot of the time those guys aren’t really any good. With E. Dan we were lucky because he’s really good. I think he gives Wiz a basis for having a sound. I’m just grateful it’s that way instead of it being a liability because the guy basically discovered him and has been his mentor the whole time. He’s someone that I think now will have a lot of other people knocking at his door and trying to work with him based on his stuff that he did for Wiz.”

"On My Level" f/ Too $hort

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Produced by: Jim Jonsin

Wiz Khalifa: “I made that in Miami with Jim Jonson. I just wanted it to be a real grimy, slimy, and dirty sounding. Almost some dirty South music, but some grungy rock-type shit too because Jim Jonson does all that. I wanted to mix all those elements into it and not just make this a straight rap album.

“We were in Miami so of course I went down to Ocean and got drunk as hell and then we went to Wet Willie’s, got shitfaced and we were drinking on the way to the studio. It was me and all my homies, we were so faded. I was drinking in the studio and—of course—smoking while rapping. [In the booth] I’m hitting the joint and rapping with smoke in my mouth. For that song, I literally just sat on a stool and recorded that whole song in like two hours. I just did it straight through. I was absolutely falling out the stool.

“Jim Jonsin made the beat during the day. I think Jim left the studio at like six or seven because Jim gets in early and then bounces. I was working with an engineer who I had worked with for the first time, but he was really good because the way that I record, I punch a lot. I do the editing right there in my head, so I do a lot of punches. But he was right there with it and he made everything sound good.

“We put Too $hort on it when we were gonna shoot the video. I wanted to do something exciting and I just felt like it would be a good idea to just reach backwards and do something with an OG instead of doing something people were used to. It worked out really well and shocked a lot of people. I’m just a big fan of Too $hort, his movement, and what he brought to the game. And it was the sound that I was going for, just raunchy and muddy. I felt like he matched perfectly. It was a different type of raunchy, but it was right what I was looking for.”

Too $hort: “Wiz got the word to my man E-40 and he called me up one day and said, ‘Do you know about Wiz Khalifa?’ I said, ‘No doubt. Who doesn’t know about him?’ At the time, ‘Black And Yellow’ was blowing up. And he said, ‘The guy’s got a song, he wants you to get on it.’ I’m like, ‘I’d love to do it.’ Zvi actually came to my studio. Wiz’s verse was on there, they had the open space for me, and I just got down. They personally brought it, recorded, and took it back with them. I didn’t actually meet Wiz until they did the video.

“At the video shoot, we did the ritual: the smoking of the peace pipe with a little bit of marijuana, pass it back and fourth, tell a couple of stories. I told him how how ironic it was that they call it the Taylor Gang and they smoke joints. I was telling him, back in the day in Oakland—probably before he was even born—when you rolled a big joint, we used to call it a Tailor. We called them Tailors because they’d be tailor-made just for the motherfucker who rolled it. I thought he was saying Taylor Gang because they smoke thick joints. [Laughs.]. That’s not the reason, but he got a good laugh out of that though.

“I really like when the younger guys want to do some songs because that way we get a good look at each other’s audience. A lot of people that know about him from different regions and different places don’t even know about me. When the video came out, I was reading some of the comments and a lot of people who were hitting it up were telling people in the comments, ‘You need to get up on Too $hort.’ So it’s a good thing to have a potential other audience.

“My first reaction when I met him was that he’s like a young Snoop Dogg. And that’s just because he has so much weed smoke in the air. [Laughs.] Then he opens up the computer and it’s a picture of him and Snoop. I was like, ‘I knew it was something going on there.’ They’re like Cheech and Chong or some shit. I’ve worked with a lot of people and I give him the thumbs up. The way he handles himself, he was professional.”

Jim Jonsin: “We worked at Circle House [Studios] in Miami, Florida. I was familiar with some of his work but I didn’t really know what direction he wanted to go. He came in the room, we kicked it for a minute, I played him a few beats. [There were] a couple that he liked and started an idea for one of them. We liked it, but we didn’t love it.”

“Then Rico Love came in. He tried an idea on something and then created a track for ‘On My Level.’ Like, ‘Let’s do something that’s super hard that just has a beat that any rapper’s just going to be like, ‘Damn!’ So we did that. Rico Love wrote a hook idea to it and then Wiz wrote a hook idea to it, which became ‘On My Level.’

“Rico worked with Wiz, he came in and helped come up with ideas. Wiz was the one with the concept part. I just helped him out by making the track for it. But that was Wiz’s hook. I didn’t know if Wiz was going to use it or not because we didn’t have a finished hook on it, it was just an idea. Actually, Rico wrote a song with Tank over that same beat when we did another session with Tank. I think Tank’s version got leaked.

“The coolest thing about working with Wiz was I went home and told my little sister, who’s 14, ‘I was working with this new artist, Wiz Khalifa.’ She about flipped her lid like, ‘Oh my god! We love Wiz Khalifa! He’s the best thing ever!’ So Wiz, thank you for making me super cool with my little sister, buddy.

“I’m not taking nothing from anyone—B.o.B is the best in the world—but Wiz is like a rebel. This guy who has the image that young kids want, they just want to be him. He’s maybe not the mom and dad’s favorite kid, but he’s breaking the cool factor in half.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “Wiz might have had it in his mind that ‘I want someone like Too $hort’ the whole time, but the actual direction from him that ‘I want Too $hort on this’ came last minute. It was a week or two before the video was shot.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “It was a bunch of us at Circle House and everyone was really, really drunk. We were drinking Gin all day. So, naturally, they made a Gin drinking song. It was like the seventh or eighth beat that was played for him. I think maybe they had a done a song the previous day. They were talking about sort of a 'Tear The Club Up Three 6 Mafia-like feeling that Wiz was going for and I think Jim just knew exactly what it was.

”Put some 808s in there. Keep it really spare. I just remember it being three in the morning and the song was basically done and Jim had by that time long since gone home and Benjy, Wiz, and me just listening to it over and over again and being like, ‘Yeah, this song just makes me wanna fucking go out and break things.’ Just being happy because I think it was pretty much the first session he had done with an outside producer and you never have any idea how that’s gonna turn out. Whether it’s gonna be a disaster.”

"Black and Yellow"

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Produced by: Stargate

Wiz Khalifa: “I recorded that in New York with Stargate. I went into that session with an open mind trying to make some big records. But I was also trying to let loose and make the first thing that came to my head. Not trying to think about it too much, if I thought of something I would just completely go with it.

”[When I got there] Stargate had a selection of beats set out for me. I went through a couple beats and I think I did a hook that day. When we got to the point that they played the ‘Black and Yellow’ beat, the first words I thought of were, ‘Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow.’

“I leaned over to my homie and was like, ‘Man, I got an idea but it might be corny as hell.’ I don’t know why, but it was a split second that I thought it was corny. I was like, ‘Am I doing too much right now?’ I told him my idea and he was like, ‘Nah man, just do it.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you know, I’m here so let’s just work.’ I sat down, recorded the hook, and the next day I did the verses and the hook part and that was it.

“The idea [to work with Stargate] was presented to me by Atlantic. The people at Atlantic, they pay attention to me and how I work, how I create my music, and how I have different parts to songs. They thought it would be a good idea to work with Stargate because of how musical they are. On top of that, Stargate makes huge records. So it’s the perfect combination. I just had to be open-minded about it. I had to be like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m doing and this is how I’m gonna put my spin on it and make it unique to me.’

“It doesn’t sound like me jumping on some manufactured bullshit. I made it mine and identifiable to me. I even made that sound identifiable to me and Stargate to the point where others are now looking for that. They want that rock, pop, and hip-hop [sound].

“When I [originally] did ‘Black and Yellow,’ on the hook I said a different part. [Stargate] ended up taking it out and just repeating another part based on their knowledge of what’s catchy and what goes. When they did it, I was totally with it. They told me how a lot of artists have problems with it when people edit their music. But I do so many different parts that if you wanna take something out or move it to the end then I’m with that. It’s all about the end product and everybody has to be happy. It’s not one-sided at any point.”

Mikkel S. Eriksen Of Stargate: “‘Black And Yellow’ was the second song we wrote. Even back then, just listening to the hook and the beat, we could tell that this was something great from the beginning.”

Tor Erik Hermansen Of Stargate: “He came with his crew, and they all had a blast. The whole Taylor Gang. There were people in and out of the room, but he had a good sense of himself. When he needs to work, he’s on. He stayed here all night and finished up his verses. We stayed, and made sure that the hook was 100%. We worked three or four days I think.

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): ”We did probably about three or four songs the first session, and then two or three others the second session. ‘Black And Yellow’ took probably about a day. 12 hours. He wasn’t in the booth for 12 hours. He wrote everything there. I don’t think he even went back and re-recorded anything. What you hear is what he did.

”The one interesting thing about that session was the hook was actually one line different from what it ended up being. When he says, ‘Uh huh, you know what it is. Everything I do, I do it big.’ And then what everyone knows is it goes back to ‘Uh huh, screaming that’s nothing.’ But before, there was actually a whole different line then ‘You know what it is.’

”The first line didn’t repeat on the second line like it does now. Stargate thought it would be catchier if they repeated that part again, instead of doing that other line. It actually turned into a little bit of a thing, because Wiz really liked it the way it was, but Stargate was pretty intent on doing it that way, and so we agreed that we would sit with it for a little while with the way that they liked it, and then we ended up getting used to it, and liking it a lot, so we ended up going with that version.

“Also, It used to have like a telephone voice, or a telephone EQ that said like, ‘What you doing over there?’ It said something like that. It was like, ‘Uh huh, you know what it is. Everything I do, I do it big.’ And then it was like, ‘What you doing over there? That’s nothing. When I pull off the lot, that’s stunting.’ Where they didn’t repeat the ‘Uh huh, you know...’

“Also, the hook used to be dirty. Instead of ‘Screaming that’s nothing,’ it says ‘The N-word, that’s nothing.’ When we were making the clean version Wiz changed it to what it is now, and ended up liking the clean hook better than the dirty hook. So we actually used the clean hook for both the clean and dirty versions of the song.

“There was one other word in there that he had to change where he says, ‘Repping my town, when you see me you know everything black and yellow.’ It was, ‘Repping my town, when you see me, N-word, everything black and yellow.’ Like, there were two of them in there that got taken out for the clean version, and we just thought it made a much stronger statement when he kept them out, and put in the other words. So we just kept it 100% clean for both the dirty and the clean version.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “I remember people trying to tell me, ‘It’s gonna be too regional. No one’s gonna care about a record where he’s talking about Pittsburgh.’ And I was like, ‘Listen, when you have that kind of conviction you could be talking about your silverware or your toilet.’ I remember, having Bruno Mars’ A&R, Aaron Bay-Schuck, in my office who I really really respect and we kinda bounce records off of each other. We were half asleep and bored in the middle of the day and I played him that shit and he was dancing around in my office and I was just like, ‘Okay. This is a special record.’”

"Roll Up"

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Produced by: Stargate

Wiz Khalifa: “That was one of the last songs that I did for the album. That was just based off of how good ‘Black and Yellow’ was doing and what I felt like the next single should be. I felt like by the time the album was coming out and by the time we would be releasing ‘Roll Up,’ it would be pretty warm and people would want something to play outside during spring break and stuff like that. I figure something for that and also something for the chicks. You can never lose when you do a song for the chicks.

“Usually I go hard on females, not really badmouthing them, but not really talking about too much good shit. So I wanted to have a lighter approach and of course play off the weed thing, and keep it consistent for what people know me for. Stargate had given me that beat before in the past. When I was on the tour bus and I listened to it, I didn’t really have any ideas for it so I kinda let it go. But when it came back up, immediately I sat there and thought about some ideas. I came up with ‘Roll Up.’ and I recorded the whole song that day.”

Tor Erik Hermansen Of Stargate: “He came through and he was like, ‘I need some more.’ Sometimes we have artists coming in, and they get one hit and leave. But Wiz said, ‘I need that sound. I love what we did together on ‘Black And Yellow,’ and I feel good about it. So let’s see if we can knock another one out. Also, a lot of people would maybe take out that bridge, and be like, ‘Nah, we can’t have a bridge. This is rap, we don’t use bridges.’ He was like, ‘That’s another exciting part. Let me fuck with that.’”

Mikkel S. Eriksen Of Stargate: “He was laying harmonies. He was doing all that shit. Very open. If you give him a suggestion then he’ll go in and try it.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “That was during our second session with Stargate, and it was the last song they did together. And I knew that we had the first single, which was obviously ‘Black And Yellow.’ We had the third main single which was going to be ‘No Sleep.’ And we had what I thought was the fourth single, which was ‘Fly Solo.’ But we didn’t have a second single, to me and to Zvi.

”So we went into Stargate’s studio, and I took Wiz aside, and I gave him like, basically a little pep talk, where I said, ‘Look dude, we’re getting towards the end of our time to record the album, and I feel like we’re missing a second single. A song that can go right after ‘Black And Yellow,’ but is still more slightly rhythmic, urban than a song like ‘No Sleep,’ and possibly something for the ladies.’

”He looked at me, and he was like, ‘I got you.’ Really, in the whole course of making the album, that was really the only time where I had to say ‘This is the type of song that we need.’ And literally within an hour and a half he had written all of ‘Roll Up.’ And we were sitting there stunned.

”The president of Warner/Chappell, Scott Francis, happened to be in the studio with us that night, just there to say ‘Hi’ to Wiz while he was in town, and he happened to be there during the hour that Wiz made the whole song. He literally just went in and did the whole thing, including the bridge where he sings, and all sorts of stuff. [Scott Francis] was like, ‘I just witnessed history.’”

"Hopes And Dreams"

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Produced by: Brandon Carrier

Wiz Khalifa: “That was a good one because one of the things that I wanted to focus on making the album was not to force anything. I wanted everything on the album to be natural and off of inspiration. If I wasn’t inspired, I just didn’t do anything. I came to the studio and around like eight or nine, and I started going in and picking through beats, smoking, and just chilling. Nothing was really coming up. I wasn’t really getting that inspiration so it got to be about 12 and that's when I was getting really bored of just being at the studio.

“So I started drinking a little bit and I was like, ‘Yo, I’ma just go to the strip club.’ [Laughs.] I went to the strip club and I just chilled with some of my homies and we drank some more, spent some money, and we was just seeing some females and just hearing the music in the strip club I was like, ‘I need a strip club song.’

“I was in Pittsburgh so I went to this little hood joint called The Pretty Kitty. [Laughs.] It’s like a real hood spot. I think it’ll work in the strip club. [Laughs.] I think about all types of strip clubs. Not just hood joints, but really upscale classy ones as well. Like, the music and how slow it is and how dreamy it is.

”It plays on different crowds. I’ve been to a strip club and they dancing to my songs. In Miami, they’ll go to the strip club and they’ll get their songs played in the strip club for thousands of dollars, so any time a chick hears that song she thinks about money. That’s a foolproof method right?

“So I went back to the studio and listened to the beats just with the strip club in mind and when I heard ‘Hopes and Dreams,’ it just automatically made me think of the song that I wanted at the strip club. And of course, being a little bit drunk it sounded it really good. I drink Bombay Gin. I drink at nighttime. I don’t drink during the day, but sometimes a couple shots, it’ll knock the edge off. I get talkative when I drink. So, sometimes I just talk about something and that’ll give me the idea that I want.

“I think that’s where the singing came from in the middle of the verses, the laziness. A lot of people talk about how lazy the flow was, but I want you to feel how faded I was at that time so I really emphasized that. I laid it in there and made a record about what I seen at the club that night. I stayed in the studio ‘til like five o’clock in the morning. I recorded that whole song that night. It was just a beat, but when I left in the morning, that muthafucka was a whole song.”

Brandon Carrier: “I was in the studio in Fontana, CA and I was just going through some samples, some loops, and all kinds of stuff. I came across a sample, I forget the name. I had to chop and screw it all. Everybody liked the beat, but nobody could find a perfect song to it so we just started shipping it out.

“I met Wiz at Record Plant [Recording Studios] when we had a session with Chris Brown. I personally walked up to Wiz and told him, ‘Yo, I produced ‘Hopes & Dreams,’ because he didn’t know who did it at first. I told him who I was and that I was with Surf Club. He told me, ‘Yeah, that’s one of my favorite joints from the album.’ After that, I knew there was some kind of chemistry [between us]. We exchanged phone numbers and emails. He said he wanted to work with me again and I know for sure I want to work with him.

“I met him before in Atlanta a couple years ago. He kind of remembered because we were supposed to do a session with him, but I guess he had a show or something and he had to leave. ‘Say Yeah’ was his record at the time. Back then I tried to get him beats, but you know how it goes.

“I liked his creativeness, so I used to always bang his stuff. People would ask who I was playing. Eventually, he started to grow on people. Just like he told me, ‘It’s not the music that I make, it’s just that I have to force my music up on people to like it.’ That’s the same situation that Lil B is in. He puts out so much music that he makes people hate him to like him. He puts out so much music, even though you don’t want to listen to him, you listen to him to say how sucky he is. But at the same time, you grow to like him.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “Nipsey Hussle was supposed to be on the record. On my computer I have him on it. He did a dope verse for it right before we were mixing the album. Everybody thought that he was out of his deal over at Sony, and that the clearance wasn’t going to be a problem, but it ended up that the paperwork wasn’t done yet.

”When Sony found out we wanted it on there, it was looking like it was going to be a big hassle in figuring out how to clear it, and they were going to want all these rights for all this stuff, We love Nipsey and his team, we’re cool with all of them, but we had to take it off because we weren't going to be able to clear it in time to put the album out. He always looks out for everyone when we’re all in L.A., and him and Wiz are close, so it would have been good to have it on there, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “Everyday I used to email a batch of my favorite beats to Wiz and he would write to what he felt. It’s really like a very low pressure thing. That was one of the first things I sent him and he was like, ‘Oh, I fuck with that,’ and he went and made a song to it.

“We loved it from the jump but no one could fucking figure out who sent it. Like every day I would have it in my calendar on my BlackBerry to figure out who produced 'Hopes and Dreams.' For months me and Benjy, who are two really organized people, couldn’t figure it out. I was afraid I was gonna have to take it off of the album.

”I’d say a month before we turned the album in I just had a weird moment of intuition that it came from Hit-Boy and Chase, but it wasn’t labeled in the way they normally label their beats in a uniform fashion. I just happened to be texting with Chase one day and was like, ‘You sure you didn’t send me this song?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I did. I didn’t produce it by myself. It was me and my dude B-Car. That’s why it’s not labeled like this.’

”I was literally like, “I have to call you back.” and I called Benji and it was like ten months of trying to figure it out cause we worried because it was like, ‘What are we gonna do when it’s time to turn this album in.’”

"Wake Up"

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Produced by: Stargate

Wiz Khalifa: “I made that in the middle of me being on tour. We were out in L.A. and I was just trying to get some work done and just be normal. There was a lot going on and I was trying keep working on the album. That was the main goal, to stay busy and not slack off. Being on tour every day and still trying to get the album done was kinda difficult, but it was something that I had to adapt to.

“I did that in pieces. I recorded the hook in L.A. in November. In the session when I did ‘Roll Up’ in New York working with Stargate, that’s when I recorded the verses to that. They chopped the hook up and made it what it is now because I usually do a lot of parts. So Stargate put that together, made the hook what it is, and then I just knock the verses out.

“The sing songiness really just comes from everything being catchy when you sing it. [The hooks are] really the first thing I think about when I put a beat on. You can sing walking down the street four times and that’s a song. I just made that a part of what I do. I can make rap hooks, but I’d rather just sing something that’s gonna stick. And being from Pittsburgh and the Midwest and growing up listening to a lot of Bone and a lot of West Coast music, that’s most of my influence. It’s to just sing and make harmonic hooks and I’ve developed my own style over the years. I have a rap style and a singing style.”

Tor Erik Hermansen Of Stargate: “The music is almost like a lullaby. If you listen to just the music alone before it kicks off, it’s like hypnotic, really mellow, and chilled out. And then we threw some hard drums on it. So we wanted to have that contrast between the really soft and beautiful and the hard-hitting beat.

”It’s interesting that Wiz started talking about it almost being like a dream, and that he doesn’t want to wake up. So I just thought that was really clever how he just kind of went with how the track felt, and built the lyrical concept around what we had thought about when we made the track.

"We always put bridges on our beats, and I think he knew that after the second chorus something had to happen. He did the hook first, then he did his verses, and pretty much after that it’s smooth sailing. He knows what he’s doing on that bridge.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “He started in a studio in L.A. and he wrote the hook, but if I remembered correctly, the people that owned the studio wouldn’t let him smoke in the studio. So, the vibe got really dead and he was just kinda like, ‘I don’t really wanna finish this record right now.’

”That was like the only time ever that I got Stargate to send beats. I wouldn’t normally even ask because I feel like it’s disrespectful, but we wanted to keep the process moving while he was on the road so they gave me a few tracks and we just loved that it had little rubs on the kicks and it had a cool vibe to it. He didn’t touch it for a little while.”

"The Race"

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Produced by: E. Dan and Big Jerm

Wiz Khalifa: “I recorded that in Pittsburgh. E. Dan made that beat from scratch. I told him the vibe I was going for and I sat in the studio all night while they were making that. I didn’t think I was gonna rap that night. I thought I was gonna be comfortable just getting a beat made and then doing the verses another time.

”I went to sleep from like 12 to 2 while they were working. I don’t fall asleep a lot in the studio because I want E. Dan to always be able to come in the room and ask me like, ‘Yo, what you think about this?’ That was just a long day so I just caught like a nap real quick and when I woke up I was still tired.

“I went to the bathroom, and was about to leave. I said peace to everybody, but then I heard the hook part of the beat and I immediately ran in the booth and started singing the hook. The words just came as I was singing it. I just made the words up as I went, but that melody just jumped outta nowhere. There was just something about the beat and something about the vibe that just caught me. Then when I did the hook it was crazy.”

E. Dan: “That one, we continued to add parts here and there throughout the next few months. Some of the different parts on there like the bridges and the last verse. That was all some of the stuff we actually went back and added. We were sort of playing with the track the whole time. Mostly, the whole track is basically just keyboards, synths, and some live guitar, live bass.”

“There’s not a sample on the album. I think that was something semiconscious as far as we knew we wanted to do fresh stuff. I mean, a lot of the stuff we’ve done on mixtapes definitely have samples. We just felt like we really wanted this to be something original and unique. We avoided samples from the beginning.

“I play some keys and I play guitar and bass. When I started out, everything I did was more sample-based and a little bit grittier. This was ten years ago. I think over the years, I’ve a tried a lot harder to incorporate more musical stuff into what I was doing. I’ve just gotten better at chops as an engineer and producer in general as far as listening to something I’m working on and being confident in where I want to take it and where I want it to end up.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “‘The Race’ is mine, E, and Wiz’s favorite song on the album. That song means a lot to all of us. E was messing around in the studio when Wiz was there, and started playing those chords, and the chord progression is really interesting. It’s really different, and for a hip-hop song it’s really intricate.

”We were all just blown away by it when we were in the studio and E was playing it. Wiz wrote a song that perfectly matched the mood of those chords. Just like some of the other songs, he went in the last month of recording, and added some stuff to the base. He flew out to L.A., and we went into the Atlantic studios, and brought up that song, and he added the breakdown and the part after the breakdown.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “I remember Benjy hitting me and saying, ‘Yo, Wiz just made the best song he’s ever made.’ And unlike a lot of managers Ben’s not a big hyper.”

"Star Of The Show" f/ Chevy Woods

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Produced by: E. Dan and Big Jerm

Wiz Khalifa: “That was another one we made from scratch. When we did that I just wanted to do something a little bit deeper, with me talking about more personal experience other than speaking on how I want other people to feel. Just telling people about my story and still giving them something to relate to. When I heard the beat, I immediately found the concept and thought of a couple words and a couple of things.

“That was easy to do since it was so personal. I was thinking about people who were only around for their personal interest, what they can get out of it and not for the everybody. There’s a lot of people who make it seem like they’re around for everything, but at the end of the day they wanna be the one who’s important. They wanna be the one who people are looking at and that’s all walks of life, not only entertainment. It happens all the time. Just growing up and making music as long as I’ve been—a lot of friends who I was cool with, I’m not cool with them now because of those reasons.

”[I put Chevy Woods on there because] I felt like like that was a good way to talk about the fake friends and the shit that I don’t like. I wanted to show off who my real homies are and then let him talk about his experiences as well.”

Chevy Woods: “Wiz recorded the song for the first time in early December and I kept telling him, ‘This is my favorite shit.’ I didn’t know that he was going to put me on it. It actually wasn’t the plan [to have me on the album], but he’s a fighter and he fights for his people. If I wasn’t going to be on the album, I wasn’t going to be on it. If I was, I was. I never look at it like, ‘This is my chance to step in the light. But he fought for me and it happened.

“So he was trying to find a place for me on the album. I was just at home chilling one day and he called me from L.A. five days before Cabin Fever dropped and said, ‘Yo man, I found a song for you and I want you to get on it.’ I just went down to I.D. Labs Studios in Pittsburgh and recorded my verse, sent it to him, and it went well.

“The song got leaked at first. The song didn’t even sound like it does now, even with the verse and the bridge on there. It was totally different, at the beginning, it was Mary J. Blige singing. I’m a Mary J. Blige fan, so I was like, Man, with this beat in hip-hop, god damn! This shit is crazy!”

“Me and Wiz go back about almost eight or nine years now. I’m older than he is, I’m 29 and he’s 23. I met him when he was about 16 or 17. We ended up going to the same studio, which is I.D. Labs. We bumped into each other and the days went on. I had smoke and he didn’t have smoke or he had smoke and I didn’t have smoke. It was like the Redman-Method Man thing. ‘Got blunts, got weed? Okay, let’s do it.’ We made songs after that and we’ve been working ever since.

“Outside of work, I’m a big brother to him. When we get inside of music, he’s a big brother to me. He’s been through it and learned some things. He showed me some things. Some people that are older say, ‘I got an ego thing. I don’t want this young nigga in front of me.’ It’s not even like that. It’s the love for where he wants to go with it and where I want to go with it.

“If Wiz really messes with you, he messes with you to the fullest extent. He puts it all out there until somebody fucks themself over. He knows how to speak to people, but there’s also the other side when he handles his business where he can get aggressive. He stands on his own two feet.

“I am in the Taylor Gang. He’s definitely the founder, but I was thinking more of a captain or lieutenant-type thing or general. He’s the head and I’m next.”

E. Dan: “That was really Wiz’s brainchild. He had a definite idea in his mind for how he wanted that. He gave us a lot of specific examples. A lot of times, we would just start songs off of random stuff he was thinking of. He would come in and say, ‘Give me some muscle car music.’ [We would play] anything that remotely sounded like that might be the vibe he was going for.

“Wiz will always have sort of a loose idea, but every once in a while [he’ll have] a real specific idea. He’s definitely always had some direction. Sometimes, we’ll even end up in a totally different place, but he always has some sort of a loose idea for where he wants to start or what he’s going for that night.”

Big Jerm: “I don’t play any instruments, I just program drums. And even down to the drums, he knew exactly what he wanted on that one.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “That was actually done almost a year later. [Chevy] did it a week before mastering [the album]. Wiz didn’t want to make the album feature heavy at all. It was really a statement of where he was, and of his own artistic ability. He definitely wanted Chevy on it, but he did know exactly where or when. He was just making songs for the album in his own mind. So the minute it was decided, Chevy went in and did his verse. It wasn’t like an open verse. It was like a two-verse song, and he wanted to expand the record a little bit, and add Chevy to it.”

"No Sleep"

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Produced by: Benny Blanco

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Wiz Khalifa: “That was real fun to do because it was more of a party song and that’s my personality anyway. I was in L.A., so we called up a bunch of people and had a good time at the studio and recorded the song. It’s not a party all the time [in the studio] because you gotta work, but there can be some drinking. There’s always some smoking. There’s gotta be some laughing and joking too because I hate when things are too serious, it makes me uncomfortable.

”Usually when I’m recording, it’s rare that I’ll drink before I record. There’s only like two or three songs on the album where I was drunk when I did it. I’m smoking all the time—but drinking, I try not to do as much, it’s more of a social thing. Drinking doesn’t do much for my creativity.

“I was in New York with Benny Blanco as he made the beat from scratch. I wasn’t up on his work before, I was really going with the people around me and trusting them that he was as tight as they told me he was. When he sat down and made the beat, I was just like, ‘This dude is incredible.’ It was definitely a similar situation working with Benny [as it was working with Stargate], but it wasn’t anything that [Atlantic Records] forced on me.

“There were a bunch of people that they definitely suggested that I work with that I totally said ‘no’ to. I don’t even remember who, but it was people who were hot at that time or that they just wanted to try something with. I was like, ‘No, there’s no sense in even trying it. Just put me with somebody who I’m gonna get a hit with.’ And it wasn’t for any particular reason other than not being ready to work with those people. But when I did agree to go with who they wanted me to, it worked out really well. It was natural and what’s really important is that all parties are happy with the song.

“Anybody that I get with, I wanna make my own connection with them. I’m gonna be working with a lot of different people on the new album. Like, I’m working with Pharrell, but Pharrell is known for what he’s known for. But when he gets with me, I want it to be a unique sound to the point where it’s like, ‘That’s that Pharrell and Wiz shit.’ Same thing with Benny Blanco, same thing with Stargate. It’s like, ‘That’s Stargate and Wiz.’ I don’t take records that they’ve played for anybody else or that they’ve suggested for anybody else. Hell no. I don’t do that at all. If it’s gonna be for me, it’s gotta be strictly for me or don’t even bother playing it.

“My situation [with Atlantic] is unique to me. They know me as an artist and they know what to expect from me. They know what ideas they can and can’t present to me and that’s just based off of our understanding. They know that I’ll take criticism and I’ll do things different for the sake of everybody being happy because I’m not gonna play myself and do anything that I’m not into.

“They never try to push songs on me that other artists have had. They know better than to give me songs with hooks on them. It’s a good business relationship that we have and it’s an understanding and I just think that comes from me being able to deliver.”

Benny Blanco: “We recorded in New York at Downtown Recording Studios. That was my first time ever meeting him. I made that beat right in front of him. He was real quiet [in the studio] and then he was like, ‘Yo, I fuck with that.’ It was kinda just me making tracks and then he stuck to one and started writing to it. Then he recorded verses to it. Later on, I finished the record at my house and he did some of his verses on his tour bus.

"I wanted to make something that was similar to the ‘The Thrill.’ I wanted to make something that kinda had a little indie rock-feel that was in the verses. Something that was smooth, but still had banging drums. I just felt like he wanted to make something that was a ‘feel good’ record because we were playing some records and watching all his videos and the fans were definitely going crazy for songs like ‘The Thrill.’ Songs that had a little bit more singing and had a little bit of an indie rock feel to them.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “Wiz was just sitting there. They didn’t know each other that well and it was among the more awkward sessions that I’ve ever come in on. But Wiz left with the beat to “No Sleep,” and promised that he would write to it. Months went by and he didn’t write to it.

Then finally, one night in L.A., he was like, ‘I’m going to write to that song tonight,’ which was the best news I had ever heard. [Laughs.] Wiz went in and he made a hook, which was actually not the hook you hear now. The hook you hear now is actually the first half of his original hook, repeated twice. It used to go off into this other thing where the melody stayed basically the same, but it got a little wordy.

”He was listening to it over and over again that night that he was writing it, and that’s when he went in. He was like “I need to do something different over the bridge part,” so he went back into the booth, and just out of nowhere, he went back into the booth and did that sing-songy bridge part, and once he did that I was like ‘Oh, it’s over.’

Then Benny went in at the advice of Zvi, and some other people, and he chopped the chorus in half, and repeated it twice. We were all worried when we played it for Wiz if he was going to hate it, because we had already had that battle over ‘Black & Yellow’ and Stargate. But he heard it, and he was like, ‘It’s great. I love it.’”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “Just to be diplomatic and fair I think him and Benny have amazing musical chemistry, but they’re just two amazingly different people and the day Benny made the beat, it was just a really dry session. There was no energy in there. You could just tell that Wiz just wanted to go back to his hotel room. I just think he wasn’t prepared to come in there and have someone be like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna make a beat right now.’ I think he just figured he’d come in and pick from some beats and he’d be rapping.

“Plus Wiz is a very mellow, cool, chill guy and Benny is a maniac and I say that with the utmost love. He’s got some of that same energy that Disco D had. He’s just a spaz. Benny never has batches of beats. Benny made two beats and Wiz didn’t write to either of them that day, but he chilled with Benny and smoked as Benny made the beats. With Benny you get a very rough skeleton. He goes back and does a ton of post production. I think it was three months later we were in L.A., and I was just hounding [Wiz] and I think he pretty much just wanted to shut me the fuck up. So, he went and did it and the second he got out of the booth we were really just all celebrating because when you make a record like that it’s just like, ‘Yeah!’

"Get Your Shit"

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Produced by: E. Dan

Wiz Khalifa: “That’s totally personal and I just feel like that’s a good song for people to connect with. Anybody who’s about 16 and up has been through some kind of break-up. So I thought it was time for me to do something like that and just be 100% vulnerable. If you listen to the lyrics, you just hear a more caring side.

“It was just really really personal and compiled a whole bunch of different feelings because it’s not just one situation. It’s a lot of different things that I was able to put together and make it sound like one. None of them were as serious as ‘Get Your Shit,’ but it was like that’s the feeling and that’s the emotion.”

E. Dan: “He definitely used to write early on and I think he felt that stuff was a little more stale, just reciting something that he knew. Now, he likes to keep a certain vibe to what he’s doing. He seems to be real aware of the feeling of any given line or verse. That’s really what he shoots for. He’s gotten more comfortable with doing what he can do off the top of his head. Actually, writing something down and trying to memorize it comes out more recited than [it would] off the top of his head.

Big Jerm: “We were recording for two weeks at the end of August and E had made the beat in Pittsburgh and emailed it to me. I played it in the studio out there and everybody loved it. I engineer and record his vocals for a lot of his sessions. I did all of the ones except for the ones with Stargate.

“Wiz doesn’t write stuff down anymore. He hasn’t for over a year. He’ll just get in the booth with some songs, he’ll have a melody in his head and he’ll hum it, and I’ll just record that. He’ll go back to it and kind of fill the words in as he goes. He just comes up with the melody first, as far as the hook goes. He’ll do a few bars and he’ll keep smoking and thinking about the next line.

“If there are parts he doesn’t like, he might punch in a bar just to fix it or go straight through. It depends on the vibe. Sometimes he wants it a little choppy, or sometimes he wants it just smooth, straight through. I think most of [the songs on the album] were chopped up, really.

"Top Floor"

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Produced by: Pop Wansel and Oak

Wiz Khalifa: “I recorded that in L.A with Pop and Oak. I hooked up with them because they’re really musical and they felt like they had some shit for me. So we got in the studio and they played some beats. I did some hooks and I think I wrote a verse. We were feeling that, but that was more of a getting to know you type-thing. Then, that night they went home and made the beat for ‘Top Floor’ and came back to the studio the next day and they were like, ‘That shit that we did yesterday was cool, but this is it right here.’ Then when I heard it, Oh man, it was cracking.

“The unique thing about those L.A. sessions was that some of them were during the day and I remember that being at like noon. I’d be up that early, but I don’t be up working that early. I’ll be up doing some shit on the computer or making phone calls, not up rapping. I actually was going to Vegas that night so I was trying to do everything that I could so I could get the fuck outta there cause I just wanted to go to Vegas. I got really hammered and didn’t sleep. That week I made ‘No Sleep,’ ‘Top Floor,’ and ‘Rooftops.’”

Pop: “We met Wiz back in September and we made that track for him the very next day. I went in and I put some drums together. Oak thought it was crazy. The next thing I know, Oak got in the booth and started ranting some crazy Turkish shit, [which are the] vocal samples you hear on the track. We took it to Wiz and he loved it.

Oak: “There was this sound that Pop used in the drums that reminded me of chanting. So, I went in the booth and started chanting a whole bunch of crazy shit in my native lanuage, Turkish. It was easy for me to do off-the-tongue shit in Turkish, so I just went in the booth said the grimiest, craziest shit I could think of. It sounded like a sample, but it’s not. [What I said] in Turkish means, ‘Get in me, eat me.’ It’s a really sexual thing. We went in there and played the record. Wiz was like, ‘Yo, that shit is crazy! I’m going to write this about a bitch!’

“Wiz is one of those dudes that emanates the calm around him wherever he goes. If you’re in this cloud of calm, you’re calm too. Working with him is like working with Willy Wonka at the Chocolate Factory. When you go in there, he’s got all of this creativity flowing and you just can’t help but to be creative too. If you’re in a room with Wiz Khalifa and the door is closed, [there’s so much smoke] you’re not going to see him until you’re three feet away from him.

“One thing that I noticed about Wiz, he constructs his songs literally one line at a time. He’ll go in the booth and he’ll focus on getting a dope line. With him, it’s all about feeling. It’s not so much about, ‘Yo, let me go in there and do the most acrobatic, technical shit I can think of!’ He goes in the booth like, ‘What feels the best?’"

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “Pop is just one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Dude has an iced out ninja turtle chain. He’s not like your average dude that walks in off the street and is trying so hard to be cool.”

"Fly Solo"

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Produced by: E. Dan

Wiz Khalifa: “In my working process, I’m usually up late and the only thing on TV at night usually be like VH1, so I’m watching pop and rock all the time. I usually watch the regular VH1 and the classic rock one. I’d be listening to those songs and learning how they sequence, put them together, and write them.

”It inspired me and made me wanna make my own identifiable songs like that. A song that people can accept and know that that’s me. I wanted to write a song where it’s got a pre-chorus, a bridge, and I’m still rapping like myself. I wanted to just combine all those elements and make that perfect rap, pop, and rock song."

E. Dan: “That’s actually a really old song. There’s a version that had leaked on the Internet a while ago. It was an older song that he had always kept around that everybody really loved. We went back to it and made some changes for the album and updated it a little bit.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “E had been messing around on the guitar, and playing those chords, and put a little beat behind it. Wiz came in the studio and heard it, and pretty much in a very, very short time, he wrote that song.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “That’s the record that really got me chasing after him. Benji sent me the record and he was like, ‘Yo, can’t really have you play this for anyone, but I really just want you to know that he can really sing. Not auto-tune sing he can really sing.’ So he sent me that and I was so hyped off of it. If you listen to the leak and the post-leak, the one that’s on the album is much more complete. Different baselines.”

"Rooftops" f/ Curren$y

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Produced by: Bei Major

Wiz Khalifa: “I recorded that actually when I got back from Vegas. I got back the next night and Bei Major was in the studio and he made that beat. The only thing I was thinking about was my feeling in Vegas. That was my first time there and I stayed at the Palm and I was telling one of my homies like, ‘Damn they wouldn’t even let us in this bitch like a year ago and now we got a muthafuckin’ room on the roof.’ That’s where the hook came from.

“I always saved that song for Curren$y because I knew that was the one that I wanted to put him on. But I didn’t want to put him on ‘til late because I didn’t want the song to leak so I waited and he hadn’t even heard it. I just told him that I had this song for him. I waited and right at the last minute, I flew him out to L.A. and put him on the record. It was exactly what I wanted it to be. There were times way earlier in the game when I thought I was ready to be on top or ready for certain things, but to have everything go according to plan and be in the position that I’m in now, that’s the biggest pay-off for me.”

Curren$y: “Dude did that for Nate Dogg. This is before Nate Dogg passed. We was in the house singing all kinds of crazy Nate Dogg hooks. Nate Dogg was fine as far as we were concerned. I was in Wiz’s house in L.A. right after the Warner deal was done, and it was after the Super Bowl. He had to turn [the album] in on February 12, so I think we did that on February 10. He already had the hook laid when I got there. He told me, ‘Yo, this is my fuckin’ Nate Dogg record.’”

Bei Major: “Zvi came and we met in this hotel in Atlanta, had breakfast, and he just hit me like, ‘Yo, I want you to work on this project for Wiz Khalifa.’ I had heard the name because he’s hot, but I didn’t know all of his music. Zvi was like, ‘Yo, listen to this.’ He gave me Kush & Orange Juice. So, I put it in my car. I was just listening to it and he was like, ‘I’m going to need you to think of some stuff for this guy.’

“I came up with a lot of stuff that I thought Wiz would like. I had a couple ideas for him and ‘Rooftops’ was one of them. So I came up with ‘Rooftops’ and I played it for him in L.A. and he recorded that same day.

“When he was doing the hook, he was doing harmonies. You might not notice, it sounds like one voice. But he was doing notes like a real singer. He had like four different notes. He would do one note and he would do a higher one. It all comes together once they put a mix on it.

“In the studio he was smoking all day. I don’t smoke, but he smoked enough for both of us. I was like, ‘Let’s get champagne!’ because I know Wiz likes champagne. I was like, ‘Yo, lets get Moët.’ He was like, ‘No man, only Clicquot.’ So, I was like, ‘We’re going to have a taste test.’ We got Moët and we got Clicquot. We drank it and honestly, I can’t even lie, I did like Clicquot better. I actually got Wiz champagne. That’s probably what helped ‘Rooftops’ come out so good.

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “Curren$y was added a week before we went to mastering. I remember personally being frustrated, even though I really love that song now, at the time I really needed Wiz to write something like ‘No Sleep,’ and he still hadn’t written to that yet, and then went and did a bunch of songs.

“I felt we still needed those singles. He went in, and was spending all night on fucking ‘Rooftops,’ and I remember sitting in the lounge of the studio and being frustrated, because I was like, ‘Man, I need Wiz to write some album stuff.’ Because we thought that was more, maybe mixtape-y. That’s more of a commentary of where I was personally in the record-making process, rather than the song itself.

”Bei’s a very musical guy, and while that beat was musical, I was hoping that maybe we would get a more radio-friendly type of song out of him. But we got ‘Rooftops,’ and it ended up being a great, necessary song for that album. Particularly because it really speaks to his core.”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “A lot of these kids no matter how talented they are, don’t know the history of what they’re involved in or don’t understand the theory of a lot, but Bei is the exception to all those things. He is just the easiest person to talk to music about and have him understand what you’re looking for. He can do everything so I knew that I wanted to get them in the room together.

”I was hoping they would write some hooks together. This was all in back to back days just over two weeks at Atlantic Records’ studios in L.A. ‘Rooftops’ is like the fourth or fifth beat that he played on like day two.


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Produced by: E. Dan

Wiz Khalifa: “That’s a really personal song. I stepped outside of myself and acted like I was talking to somebody else, but I was actually talking to myself. I was talking about my whole journey and everything that I’ve been through. I was summing it all up for me or anybody else that’s in that position or hopes to be in that position.

”It’s not just rap, it’s about achieving what you wanted to achieve and getting in that position. Now you got everything that you wanted, it’s sort of celebratory, but reflective at the same time. Just looking at everything you got and what it took to get there. The good and the bad kinda made me where I am now, so that’s what it’s all about.

Rolling Papers is a great representation of all the styles of music that have influenced me. It’s different from everything that I’ve worked on before. It’s not completely different, but it doesn’t sound like those full projects. And as far as my career, it put me in a position to make any type of music that I’d ever want.

”I’m never gonna have to go back and try to make another ‘Fly Solo,’ but if I do, people would accept it and know that that’s me. I expressed all angles of my creativity so now I can just move freely and do everything and anything. The only regret that I have is that Nipsey Hussle couldn’t get on the album. Other than that, I think it’s timeless and if they don’t understand it now, they’ll understand it years from now and they’ll be able to get what Rolling Papers is.”

E. Dan: “He said a lot on there that he really wanted to get out content wise. I think that’s what we wanted when we started it. We kind of had the idea of doing stuff a little more indie and off the wall.

“Every artist, when they’re 16, 17, is still sort of searching for their sound and comfort zone, as far as who they are as an artist and a person. Being young and wanting to prove yourself to everybody—especially in the rap game—early on you’re always going to want to sound a little tougher and little more aggressive.

“I think once he grew into himself as a person, that stuff just became natural. At some point, he got more and more comfortable being on records. Wiz came into his own around Kush & Orange Juice, as far as his style and personality on a record. I feel like the album is sort of a more mature version of that personally.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “That was in the early sessions. It was after the made ‘Star Of The Show’ and ‘When I’m Gone.’ It had actually leaked early like “Fly Solo,” and we weren’t going to put it on the album. But as we were sequencing the album, me and Wiz were in his apartment in L.A., and he has a studio there, and we were listening to all the different songs trying to figure out the right sequencing.

”We thought of ‘Cameras,’ and he was like, ‘I really need that song. That song would really round out the album to me, because of what it’s saying. And I think if we put that last, it would really bring it full circle, and it would really make it the exact album that I wanted to make.’“

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “It’s something that was done definitely after he signed the deal, but early on in the process. I think that the entire time it’s something that Wiz in particular knew he wanted on the album. And, it’s just cool because some people get this amnesia. You can make the greatest record in the world at the start of the recording process and by the end you just don’t want anything to do with it because you have these new shiny toys that you made last week.”

"Taylor Gang" f/ Chevy Woods

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Produced by: Lex Luger

Lex Luger: “That is an old beat. That’s probably from ‘07, ‘08. I had Wiz’s e-mail because Wiz has always been kind of like an Internet guy. When he first was really popping I hollered at him. And then he reached out to me and wanted to do some work.

“I had heard the song about a year ago. It had leaked out, but no one knew it though. But as far as being in the studio together, we haven’t done anything like that yet. I talked to him, and he said he’d give me at least three [beats] on the next album.”

Benjy Grinberg (Executive Producer and CEO of Rostrum Records): “It was just a song he made randomly one night. Lex had sent him a ton of beats, and Wiz went in and made that song. It started to become an anthem, and when he performed it people went absolutely nuts. So when iTunes wanted an exclusive song for their version of the album, we were like, ‘We should definitely throw ‘Taylor Gang’ on there as a special treat to the fans.’

”It’s on Cabin Fever, but it’s a bad mix/mastering job on there. It just the two-track with Wiz. So we were like, ‘Let’s remaster and mix it. Let’s get the actual track and do it right.’”

Zvi Edelman (Vice President Of A&R, Atlantic Records): “It didn’t really fit [the album]. We put it on the iTunes deluxe edition so people had a chance to buy it because [Wiz] felt strongly about it. I don’t like interfering with his creative process and also I love Lex Luger and I also happen to work for Warner Chapell and we publish him, so all around I was encouraging of the record being on the project in some way. We don’t stop him from putting anything on anything. If anything it was just that we all knew that it fit in less with the thread of what the rest of the record sounded like.”

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