Wiz Khalifa, the American rapping sensation, was born on this date in 1987 in Minot, North Dakota. Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz, Khalifa’s military parents were stationed in Minot before the family moved to Pittsburgh when he was only two.
Prior to attending high school, Khalifa lived in North Dakota, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Germany, England, and Japan. In 1990, Khalifa’s parents separated and Khalifa’s mother was forced to leave the toddler with her sister while she served in Operation Desert Storm.
The constant relocating and change in environment led Khalifa to write and journal; by the age of fourteen, he had begun transforming these written thoughts into rap lyrics. In his teens, he returned to Pittsburgh to stay, and soon became a serious performer, changing his name to Wiz Khalifa at the age of seventeen.
“Khalifa” is the Arabic word for “successor,” and his grandfather gave him the name “Wiz,” a shortened version of “wisdom.” He had the stage name tattooed onto his body shortly before the release of his first mix-tape, Prince of the City in 2005. The following year, at the age of nineteen, Khalifa released his first full-length album, Show and Prove. Rolling Stones magazine declared the young hip-hop musician, an “artist to watch” that year, and Warner Bros. Records soon signed the teenager. He released two more mix-tapes in 2007 under Warner Bros.’s Rostrum label, including the single, “Say Yeah,” which climbed to the Billboard Chart’s Top 20 Rap Tracks. He released his Star Power mix-tape in 2008 and Flight School in 2009, before parting ways with Warner Bros. and signing exclusively with Rostrum Records. He also collaborated on a tape with New Orleans rapper Currency that year, and opened for Wu-Tang Clan in New York City.
Khalifa was named “Rookie of the Year” by The Source in 2010, and signed with Atlantic Records. That year, he also received perhaps his biggest break with the release of his popular single, Black and Yellow. The song referred to the colors of his hometown Steelers, who played in the 2011 Super Bowl. It climbed to number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The North Dakota native will release his debut Atlantic album later this year, which his fans, known as the Taylor Gang for Khalifa’s love of Chuck Taylor shoes, eagerly await.
Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job