WIZ KHALIFA, SNOOP DOGG

“Being out in front of people and just being ‘The Man’” might sound like a vague and ridiculous dream to have, but for Cameron Thomaz it might be the most appropriate thought to cross any mind. Better known as Wiz Khalifa, the son of two military parents has always had his eye on being a new standard by which cool is measured. Rapping since the third grade and starting to record music at 14 was pr...obably a step in the right direction. The next best move? Inking a deal to Rostrum Records after a meeting with Benjy Grinberg.


Fresh out of high school, it was time to either sink or swim. In 2005 Wiz released his first mixtape, “Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania.” The mixtape was quickly accepted by the local scene and began to gain buzz outside of Pittsburgh. With that excitement growing by the day, it was the perfect time for a proper commercial album. Wiz soon dropped “Show and Prove,” which Okayplayer.com claimed was “arguably the best album of the year.” The accolades began piling up and Khalifa was receiving significant co-signs from XXL, Rolling Stone, and VIBE, alike. A deal with Warner Bros. Records soon followed.


Any other 20-year-old probably would’ve let all this hype go to their heads, but not Wiz. As focused as ever, Wiz only saw this praise as an opportunity to work harder. In 2007, with the help of famed mixtape DJ, Green Lantern, Wiz released “Grow Season,” which was soon followed by “Prince of The City 2.” The sequel to “Prince of The City” would soon out grow its predecessor so much so that the demand for Khalifa’s music was greater than ever.


Unfortunately, the relationship between Khalifa and Warner Bros. dissolved, and once again, Wiz found himself as an independent artist. Typically a huge roadblock for any artist, Wiz refused to allow the lack of a major label deal to slow down his momentum. He and his Rostrum team hit the ground running in 2009 and released three highly acclaimed mixtapes: “Flight School,” “How Fly,” a collaborative mixtape with New Orleans rapper Curren$y, and “Burn After Rolling.” The album “Deal Or No Deal” followed in the Fall and debuted at the top of the iTunes “Hip-Hop” chart, and has remained in the top 50 to date.


In the months following, both his fanbase (known as the “Taylor Gang”) and the anticipation for his new mixtape grew daily. Once Wiz dropped “Kush & Orange Juice” in early 2010, it was clear that he had established himself as one of the rap-game’s brightest young stars to watch. With an unprecedented amount of downloads, not to mention both the top search on Google as well as the number one trending topic on Twitter, it seemed as if the entire nation was on board with the “Taylor Gang” movement. Many said that the release of “Kush & Orange Juice” placed Wiz as the valedictorian of his “XXL Freshmen 10” class and kicked open the doors he and his team were looking to walk through.


Fast forward a few months, and together Wiz and Rostrum Records proudly announced that these doors were those of Atlantic Records, the new home to Wiz Khalifa. Following this huge milestone in his career, Wiz soon embarked on a stint on the famed “Rock The Bells” tour alongside such legends as Lauryn Hill and Snoop Dogg, immediately followed by his nation-wide headlining tour, appropriately dubbed the “Waken Baken Tour.” After receiving co-signs from a multitude of rap veterans, including Rick Ross and Diddy, and humbly rejecting Drake’s offer to join his recent tour, it became evident that Wiz also established himself as a prominent staple online with over 3,000,000 friends on Facebook, and over 1,000,000 fans following him on Twitter. With the video for his first Atlantic Records release, “Black & Yellow,” getting an astonishing 30 million views on YouTube, there is no question about it: Wiz Khalifa’s debut album is bound to be something great.

With today’s proliferation of mass media, pop culture icons have a tendency to seem overly ubiquitous. They stare at us from the covers of glossy magazines, talk to us from both the small and silver screen, interact with us through our laptops and hypnotize us with their inescapable hit singles. But too often these days, while our biggest stars may be omnipresent in our lives, we feel no genuine c...onnection to them or their artistry.


Yet, hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg is different. While, he’s everywhere, all of the time—from The View to 106th & Park, Sportscenter to One Life To Live, and from commercials with Adidas to Pepsi Max—Snoop’s continuing appeal to his legions of fans stems from a true bond that they have built with him through his music. And like Bigg Snoop, the music’s been everywhere. Whether it’s a stadium stage or the screen on your mobile phone, Snoop has most likely rocked it.
Now, as anticipation steadily climbs for his quickly approaching 11th studio album, Doggumentary, Tha Doggfather is continuing to enhance his connection with his fans through his music. Not only is Snoop utilizing his unrivaled digital presence to offer his fans inside access to the creative process behind the Doggumentary, but the album itself acts a memoir of sorts—both chronicling his journey in the game thus far and plotting where his path will lead him in the future.


The latest collection reflects everything that the world has come to embrace about the man born Calvin Broadus. While delivering several of the bombastic street raps that initially propelled Snoop to stardom, Doggumentary also boasts the sort of unpredictable collaborations that have made him a pop culture phenomenon.


Unafraid to experiment with his established sound, the intoxicating lead single "Wet" sees Snoop working with the newly hot production duo The Cataracs. Together, they unite to startling effect, creating an entrancing and atmospheric club jam that has already pounced on various radio formats. Another first-time contributor to Snoop's illustrious catalogue is producer Lex Luger. The native Virginian (responsible for Rick Ross' thunderous anthems “MC Hammer” and "B.M.F.") provides Tha Bigg Boss Dogg with something even more triumphant—the fittingly titled "Platinum," a song that also reunites Snoop with famed crooner R. Kelly.


From here, Snoop continues to roll out the blue carpet, inviting alternative heroes Gorillaz to provide the psychedelic organ thrusts to Snoop’s unusually playful flow on "Sumthin Like This Night". Rising sensation Wiz Khalifa stops by for the playful, self-explanatory "This Weed Iz Mine," which sees our host gleefully announce that he's taking it back to "classic Snoop." Then the melancholy strings of the Kanye West produced "Eyez Closed" inspire a wizened D-O-Double G to both reflect and caution, "If you taste success, make sure it's from a tall glass." Still the energy immediately ramps up with the surefire hit "Boom" featuring T-Pain. Here, Snoop announces himself the "chief rocka" over producer Scott Storch’s ingeniously utilized sample of Yaz’ “Situation”.
While mainstream audiences will undoubtedly rapturously receive the aforementioned, Snoop spends ample time on Doggumentary rewarding his loyal core fanbase. "My Fucn House" is as authoritative as its title suggests, as Snoop, Jeezy and E-40 delve into the trap over Rick Rock's energetic pomp. "We Rest N Cali" is Snoop's unapologetic ode to California's more sinister dwellings, aided by a typically merciless Goldie Loc. "Gangbang Rookie" will be considered vintage Snoop as he asserts himself as, "a Boss out here on the West" over Jake One's rattling funk. While Jake does an impeccable job recreating West Coast G-Funk on both "Rookie" and the album intro "Toyz N Da Hood," Snoop recruits a few other notable comrades to assist. These include Battlecat ("The Way Life Used To Be," "Wonder What It Do"), Fredwreck ("Peer Pressure"), and Meech Wells ("Take U Home.") All mentioned succeed in conjuring definitive Snoop, whether he is shamelessly spitting game, confronting adversaries, or reflecting on his incredible career trajectory.


To promote Doggumentary, Snoop has wisely conceptualized the album’s title. By aligning his social media prowess with his creative output, Snoop is "doggumenting" the album’s progress online. He has already launched the much discussed #PuffPuffPassTuesdays campaign, where he releases exclusive visual and audio content to his 2.5 million Twitter followers every week. Next, unprecedented access to Snoop's inner circle is granted via his frequent Ustream sessions. These afford millions of fans across the globe the opportunity to log-in and interact with Snoop live, as he streams new music. Snoop is also responsible for the prolific WestFestTV channel on YouTube, which regularly uploads candid footage of Snoop in action and a slew of viral music videos.


Snoop Dogg's ability to stay at the forefront of popular culture and connect with his fans has resulted in unwavering relevance. While he’s a TV and movie star, the founder and coach of a hugely successful youth football league and a savvy adapter of new technology, Snoop Dogg remains Tha Doggfather of hip-hop. Incredibly, his music is as "doggumented" now as it was in 1992 around the launch of his timeless debut Doggystyle. In fact, a stronghold over the various social networking platforms makes him more accessible than ever. With all eyes on the skinny kingpin from Long Beach, Doggumentary is the perfect title for the man who continues to occupy thethrone as the world’s most famous rapper.

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WIZ KHALIFA, SNOOP DOGG

Wednesday, December 7 · 11:00 PM at 9:30 Club