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The Green Room with Wiz Khalifa

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Superstar hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa is set to embark on the summer 2014 Under the Influence of Music Tour this week, headlining a crazy lineup that also features Jeezy, Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Sage the Gemini, Mack Wilds, IAMSU!, and DJ Drama. The tour is a lead-in to his highly-anticipated (pun intended) upcoming album Blacc Hollywood, which off the strength of his monster hit “We Dem Boyz” is already poised to sell major units. This isn’t the normal order of things, though. Usually, an artist drops an album, then goes on tour. But if it works for Wiz, it works for us, right? He’s given us plenty to survive off in the meantime, from his 28 Grams mixtape to the “We Dem Boyz (Remix)” with Rick Ross, ScHoolboy Q, and Nas, to his new DJ Mustard-produced joint that dropped yesterday “You and Your Friends” with Snoop Dogg and Ty Dolla $ign. And it’s a safe bet that those who attend the Under the Influence of Music Tour this summer may get a taste of some exclusive album content before it’s officially released as well.

With the tour about to kick off this Thursday in his home state of Pennsylvania (Scranton though, not his hometown of Pittsburgh), we connected with Wiz yesterday for our latest The Green Room feature to find out what goes on behind the scenes when he’s out on the road. And he told us all about his daily routine, what music he likes to listen to before he hits the stage, how he makes time to meet his fans, and his hands-on role preparing for his nightly set. Plus, he gave us a taste of how he eats on tour, where he records, what to expect musically at the shows this summer, and he even reminisced on a few of his favorite past guest spots, including that moment at Houston Appreciation Weekend when he smoked a joint on stage with Drake. Head into The Green Room with Wiz Khalifa below.

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Pre-Show Vibe/Tour Routine

Wiz Khalifa: “It’s definitely really chill. It depends on the day, because I do a lot of meet and greets, and a lot of interactive stuff with the fans. So, I’ll probably get up at like 10, and try to take a shower and do some interviews, because there’s always press and promo on the road. And then, by that time, everybody’s probably up and out and about, moving around. So I’ll try to skate and catch up with muhfuckers, or I’ll just chill out and smoke, and come up with some ideas and things like that.

“The later it gets, the more [the other artists on the bill] are performing. So depending on which tour, or where I’m at, or how busy I am, I always make sure I try to catch the other artists’ sets, like one or two a day, or different parts of people’s sets. Just to see what the vibe is like, and enjoy what’s going on at the tour, instead of being there working all the time. It’s good to take a second away. Then I get back to it.

“It probably takes me about an hour to get dressed. I’m smoking weed and listening to music the whole time, having a bunch of people come through to take pictures and shit, because everybody wants stuff for their Instagram. And that’s about it.”

Music Before the Show

“I listen to a lot of old school music [before I go on stage]. James Brown, Prince, Alexander O’Neal, a lot of Al Green, Marvin Gaye, The Manhattans, Kool & the Gang. I chill, but I like to turn up sometimes, too. It depends on the night.”

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Tour Personnel

“It takes a lot to actually make it work, so anybody who’s there has a job, and that’s what they’re there to do, whether it’s someone setting up a meet and greet, someone getting me a plate of food, someone organizing my clothes, or waking me up and telling me I need to be here and I need to be there, or security. So there’s nobody just there to be there. I record a lot out on the road, so I’ll bring my engineer with me for a week or two, but at the end of the day, nobody is there just to be there. They all have a job. It might look like an entourage or a big group of people, but it’s just what it takes to make the machine work. And we have fun while we do it.”

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Food/Rider

“I don’t really eat fast food anymore. I usually have a chef. I try to eat pretty normal, just so the whole tour life doesn’t take over normal life. So I eat regular food. Normal breakfast, like eggs, pancakes, sausages and things like that. Normal lunch, like turkey burgers, spaghetti, and sandwiches. I love Jamaican food, so whenever my chef can make Jamaican food, I’m cool with that.

“I don’t eat before I go on stage, so as long as I have breakfast and a little bit of lunch, I’ll be cool. Nothing special [is on my rider], really.”

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Show Preparation

“It takes my input to make it happen, because it’s my vision, or else it wouldn’t exist. The world would just be going on around me. I 100% come up with the set list, I 100% am talking day in and day out with my designers, and my lighting guys, telling them what the moods are of each song, and when shit needs to change. And I have a band, and a music director as well. We sit down and go over ideas to make things bigger and better. It’s a real performance. Any preparation that anybody does for a big tour, like Britney Spears or something like that, that’s what I do. That’s how serious we take it, and that’s how it comes off the way that it does.”

Blacc Hollywood Material

“Since the pre-orders went up for the album, I’m definitely gonna be performing the stuff that got unlocked. There’s like five songs that got unlocked off the album, so I’m definitely gonna be able to add that to the set, so I can prep people. But I don’t want to give too much away.”

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Recording on Tour

“[I] usually [record] in the dressing room, because it’s quieter in there. The bus got like motors and shit. It’s a different creative process. It’s not necessarily writing and recording it later, it’s more or less coming up with it on the spot, [especially] if it’s something that I have to do.”

Smoking on Stage with Drake at HAW

“It was a surprise, because Drake is pretty straight laced and shit. He smokes, but he never smoked on stage before. It surprised me like everybody else.”

Favorite Past Guest Spots

Snoop brought me out at Coachella, that was tight. When I brought out Abel in Toronto, that was one of my favorites. And anytime I bring out Curren$y, [it’s] crazy.”

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Tour Bus/Plane Activities

“Sleep. That’s it. I’m sleep on the bus, I’m sleep on the plane. I’m just so tired. That’s my only time I get to go to sleep.”

Packing

“I got a team of people who I bring with me, who handle my wardrobe for me and pack it up. We pick out outfits for like a week or so, set them to the side, and then pack everything else up. But it’s not like how it was before, when you’d get four Louis bags and bring clothes. It’s cases and shit.”

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Fan Interaction

“It’s part of the ticket packaging. A lot of the fans buy VIP passes, where they can get more access, and they can get closer, and things like that. And that just comes with bigger tours, and being with Live Nation, and letting them know how important that is to me.

“And for my marketing and promotion, it goes hand-in-hand with the album. Radio stations can have winners call up, and they win a meet and greet. And they come down to the show, we chop it up for a hot second, take a picture, and sign an autograph. And that’s how it was back in the day. Fuckin’ Guns N’ Roses did meet and greets, MC Hammer did meet and greets. You’re supposed to have that fan interaction.”

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Festival Performances

“Festivals are cool. I like the big crowds, and the diversity of it. The fans are there to see so many different types of artists, and you get to win over new fans and make them your fans. There’s big ones, but there’s been some smaller ones that have caught my attention. I love doing Rock The Bells, I love doing Bonnaroo, I love doing Wireless. Hangout Fest was really cool this year.”

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Under the Influence of Music Tour Lineup

“Everybody’s music is really current and fresh, and refreshing. I think that not only for me, but the fans are gonna hear some good stuff. It’s just gonna be a good night filled with great music. It’s gonna be fun. Definitely gonna be an experience.”

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Family Life On and Off Tour

“I kind of keep the business and the family separate. So for now, while I’m going out doing all of this promo, my son’s not gonna be able to be there. He’s just so young and so little, it’s just not a good environment for him. We’re traveling so fast, and moving around. It’s all about what works and what doesn’t work. The most important part of the tour is the music and the fans and them being happy, and me being available and being able to deliver. But my family is gonna be squared away. I’m there for them just as much as I’m there for everybody else.

“My son’s still really young, so just spending time with him in general is good. Interacting with him, reading. He’s a really happy baby—he sings and dances to music. I would definitely say he enjoys the heck out of music. I think it’s a little bit early to say if he’s gonna be a musician or not, but who knows.”

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Favorite Joint During a Day on Tour

“The first joint of the day—it’s the best one, no matter where. It doesn’t matter if you’re on tour or not.”

Photos via Wiz Khalifa’s Instagram.

Previously:

The Green Room with Curren$y
The Green Room with Action Bronson
The Green Room with U-God