Wiz Khalifa lounges in the studio, surrounded by what appears to be dozens of candles. Here, fluorescent, overhead lighting is not permitted–and neither are bad vibes. As he lays on the couch with his eyes closed, the musician is completely immersed in the beats his band has conjured up during their recording session. Large pictures of lux interiors and faraway lands also hang on the walls, transforming his studio into the ultimate lived-in mood board. The artist shares that all this contributes to the overall vibe he’s creating, one that will set not only the visual but also the sonic tone for his latest album.
“I created this whole world,” Wiz laughs. “I f*cking got dressed every day to go to the studio because I had to be in a certain character mode.”
This character that Wiz created dresses in Saint Laurent shirts, skinny jeans, and black sunglasses–and is, one can argue, an embellished version of the artist himself. That character, brimming with sophistication and smoothness, embodies the ethos of the artist’s seventh full-length studio album, Multiverse, out today. And with it, the singer-songwriter ushers in a new era. Guided by his own personal experiences, the album is an intimate look into Wiz’s life over the last year. Here, Wiz raps about old relationships, honing in on his sound, and navigating fatherhood. But at its core, Multiverse is about big, beautiful love.
“There’s the love of relationships, love of me being a father, and love for yourself,” he tells VMAN. “Those are a lot of the main topics that I wanted to talk about and bring to the forefront.”
By traditional definitions, “multiverse” refers to an infinite realm of limitless potential. And while that meaning certainly characterizes the album, for Wiz, the word also takes on new meanings: “So you have the ‘multi-’ which shows how versatile I am, and then you have “verse,” which is what I’m saying.” Steeped in heavy R&B and funk influences, the album lays out Wiz’s sonic vision that is a world of its own creation. And to help Wiz fuel his jetpack to the outer realms of music, he enlisted the help of his most trusted comrades–his touring band and producers Hitmaka and Girl Talk. The resulting product is a tour de force–the album and its production are beautifully complex and layered.
“It’s a really playful project,” he explains. “I think you get to experience and feel things on this project that a lot of people haven’t done lately. So it’ll be new to some people, and it’ll be refreshing to other people who’ve been waiting for something like that.”
The nearly hour-long new album sets itself apart from the rest of the musician’s discography as it features the most singing we’ve ever heard from the artist on a project. On tracks like “Something Real” and “1000 Women,” the musician shows off these vocal abilities. But as Wiz says, there’s something for everyone, and longtime fans won’t be disappointed. “Iced Out Necklace” and “Bad Ass Bitches,” will satisfy die-hard Wiz stans with their fast-paced rap lines while “We’re Not Even” and “Memory Lane” will entice new listeners with their unique song structures.
“I had a lot of music saved up, but I hadn’t had time to really focus on myself and listen to myself. So this year, I sat down and filtered everything out. I wanted to figure out what the new Wiz Khalifa sounds like,” he says. From his home in Los Angeles, he shares that the atmosphere there was nothing but “high-energy.” Along with getting revved up for the album’s release, he was also getting ready for his tour.
This summer, Wiz is hitting the road with Logic. The pair will co-headline the Vinyl Verse tour, which will feature special guest appearances by DJ Drama, C Dot Castro, and Fedd the God. The jaunt kicked off this week in Irvine, California, and will make its way through 28 cities before ending on Sept. 2 in St. Louis, Missouri. Earlier this year, the duo collaborated on Logic’s single, “Breath Control,” which was part of the rapper’s most recent album, Vinyl Days.
“I’m excited to perform the new stuff from the album,” he shares. “It’s always exciting because there are people who’ve been to my show 13 times and then there are people there for the first time. So I’m going to make sure I leave an imprint on people. I’m going to take everyone on a journey.”
Ahead of Wiz’s latest project, we chatted with the artist to get insight into his artistic process and inspirations.
VMAN: Congrats on your latest project, Multiverse. Where did you start with this project?
WIZ KHALIFA: Man, I was all over the place. I’ve been trying to develop a sound that was going to take me to the next level. With all my projects, I feel like I’ve always been in my own world. I just created something that was relevant to me and then presented it to people and took them on a journey. Especially with this album, I definitely wanted to give listeners the opportunity to experience music in a different type of way.
VMAN: Yeah, and when trying to craft this new experience, how did you go about it?
WK: It was really the song structure. I have a lot of different styles and things that I picked up through my experience in recording–being sensitive to things sonically. I wanted to build up songs in a way that was exciting and gave people a chance to listen all the way through. I feel like I was able to do that in a lot of different ways, whether it’s upbeat or a little bit more soulful and slow. It’s a really playful project. I think you get to experience and feel things on this project that a lot of people haven’t done lately. So it’ll be new to some people, and it’ll be refreshing to other people who’ve been waiting for something like that.
VMAN: And who were some of the main collaborators you were working in the studio with?
WK: Jenny, who’s in my band, CJ, Mike, who’s in my band, Girl Talk, the legendary producer from Pittsburgh. Hitmaka, his whole writing team, we did a lot of good stuff together. Tia, who’s part of Taylor Gang. E. Dan mixed the whole project. My engineer Aaron, who I couldn’t have done it without. Those are the real key collaborators and forces behind this whole project.
VMAN: That sounds like a great team. As you talked about bringing people through a story, can you tell us some themes you wanted to explore with this album?
WK: Yeah, it was really based on love. There’s the love of relationships, love of me being a father, and love for yourself. Those are a lot of the main topics that I wanted to talk about and bring to the forefront. Those are things that I’ve really experienced that drove me in the direction that it did.
VMAN: What do you hope this album provides listeners? Anything you want to say with this release?
WK: Honestly, I put everything that I could possibly put into this album, and I love it. And to be able to release it, that’s a gift to me. I just feel good being able to drop this motherf*cker. So when people hear it, I want them to interpret it for themselves, but just know that I’m so happy to be able to put it out.
VMAN: And how did you choose the word “multiverse” to encapsulate the whole project?
WK: So you have the “multi-” which shows how versatile I am and my style is, and then you have “verse,” which is what I’m saying.
VMAN: Did the album conjure up any specific visuals when you were writing it?
WK: Absolutely, man. I created this whole world. I f*cking got dressed every day to go to the studio because I had to be in a certain character mode. You know, it’s hard to explain how things line up and how beautifully it all works. But just by timing and being sensitive to everything going on around us. I was really able to create a mind frame where we knew exactly what we were aiming for. And when we hit that mark, we hit it.
VMAN: Can you give us a glimpse into the studio with you during this time? What was the vibe? What were you wearing?
WK: It was literally candles everywhere. I turned all the lights off–only candles in the studio. We were drinking tea, and I wore nice Saint Laurent shirts, skinny jeans, boots, and sunglasses. I had my hair pulled back. There were also pictures on the walls of settings in my head–places I would want to be while I’m hearing this music. So I would sit on my couch and listen to my band play. I was in there, saying, ‘Hey, bring this up a little bit or take that down or right here we need a little bit more.’ So, it was really a feeling, a vibe. Sometimes the boots came off, and we were barefoot up in that thing. When you hear it, if you were there, you understand exactly how that music came out the way it did.
VMAN: Did your other collaborators in the studio also dress in that vibe?
WK: Absolutely. If you pulled up, we were all on the same vibe. And I didn’t even have to say anything. We all just got into character. I was expressing myself and saying the things that were important to me, so we talked about it, and it became how they felt as well. So if you walked in, you already expected candles or you brought some new tea, saying like, ‘Yo, let’s try this tea.’ It was really fun to see everybody immerse themselves in the world as well.
VMAN: How long has this project been in the making?
WK: I started it at the beginning of this year. I released three other projects this year already. “Wiz Got Wings,” “Full Court Press” with Girl Talk, and “Stoners Night” with Juicy J. I had a lot of music saved up, but I hadn’t had time to really focus on myself and listen to myself. So this year, I sat down and filtered everything out. I wanted to figure out what the new Wiz Khalifa sounds like. And I started making songs, and I started making videos, and then I hyped a few things up on the Internet just to see what that thing could be. Luckily, I had a lot of time between January and when I took the album in June to let it shape and form exactly how it was supposed to. For a whole month, I just lived in the studio, and that’s where the real DNA of the album started forming.
VMAN: You’re also heading on tour with Logic, the Vinyl Verse Tour. What are you the most excited about touring?
WK: I love the everyday schedule of waking up, seeing the homies, eating food, and then revving up and getting ready for the show. It’s a really fun day leading up to the show. I’m never stressed out or too f*cked up from the night before. I’m always having a good time. So it’s just good to spread love. I love being around people that I know and meeting new people.
VMAN: Is there anything, in particular, you’re excited to perform?
WK: I’m excited to perform the new stuff from the album. I got some hits and classics, of course. It’s always exciting because there are people who’ve been to my show 13 times and then there are people there for the first time. So I’m going to make sure I leave an imprint on people. And if they’ve never heard the song before that they’re going to be like, ‘Yo, this is my sh*t. I got to look this up.’ I’m going to take everyone on a journey.
VMAN: And as you’re going on tour with Logic, how do you think your set is going to complement his to create a great performance?
WK: I think we’re going to complement each other well because he’s very lyrical and knowledgeable about music. So his fans are going to understand and have a good time. They’re not going to be expecting anything that they’re not going to get and it’s going to be the same with my fans. We share fans as well. It’s just going to be amazing to bring them all together and have them f*cking eating off the same table.
VMAN: In your opinion, how is this album different from your debut album, Rolling Papers?
WK: Sh*t, I would say it’s definitely different and that I’ve changed, but the process is still so good, so organic and so natural. So I don’t feel like nothing’s changed. Like I’m just a little bit older and a little bit more experienced. But the same confidence that I brought and that I bring when I release a project is the same. So nothing’s really changed. We’re just recreating those great feelings for people who haven’t experienced it yet.
You can stream Multiverse on all streaming platforms.