When Wiz Khalifa sold out the Val Air Ballroom in less than two hours last year, it seemed like a sign of two things: Khalifa is destined for a big career and Des Moines probably wouldn’t see him again for a while.
But here we are, a year and a half later, and the “Black and Yellow” rapper is back in town. While Khalifa’s 2050 Tour does include some arena stops, he’s not quite Wells Fargo Arena level yet. Instead Khalifa will be playing at the 5,500 capacity Jacobson Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
The 25-year-old rapper has seen his career skyrocket since the release of “Rolling Papers” last year, and a follow-up, “O.N.I.F.C.” is due out in December.
“I’ve definitely been surprised. I just feel blessed and it’s a really good situation to be in,” Khalifa said during a phone interview. “People have been supportive of the live show, and it’s really good to have such an active fan base. I do what I do with one goal in mind: giving 100 percent to the fans.”
The 2050 Tour features some new material from the upcoming “O.N.I.F.C.,” including the hit “Work Hard, Play Hard” and “Remember You,” but Khalifa is trying to avoid letting out live versions of new songs until the album is released on Dec. 4. Not that there isn’t plenty of other material to draw from for his live shows. Khalifa has released three new mix tapes this year alone.
On the current tour, Khalifa is all about showcasing his Taylor Gang friends. Taylor Gang is the name of the rapper’s label/company/clothing line, but it’s also the group of musicians associated with him, including Juicy J of Three Six Mafia, Chevy Woods, Lola Monroe, Tuki Carter and Berner, who are all on this tour with Khalifa. You can’t just be talented or a friend of Wiz to make it into the Taylor Gang; you need to be both.
“It’s very organic; we were all friends first,” Khalifa said. “I just happen to be friends with really talented people.”
With “O.N.I.F.C.” Khalifa didn’t have any worries about having a sophomore slump. The success of “Rolling Papers” set the bar high, but Khalifa’s own high standards keep him aiming higher.
“I always want to top myself. I think about my music a lot, and critique it a lot too,” Khalifa said. “I always want to impress me, and this album felt like the direction I needed to be moving in.”
At his young age, Khalifa has reached a level of success that is uncommon in hip-hop, and has crossed over to mainstream success despite his hard-smoking image. Many could view this success as a career peak, but Khalifa plans to keep pushing as hard as he can.
“Just knowing where I came from and where I started at keeps me going,” Khalifa said. “Mainly, if I keep making goals for myself, at least it’s something to move toward. I’ll never stop making goals.”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jacobson Exhibition Center, Iowa State Fairgrounds