Wiz Khalifa pulled off a major upset when he was officially crowned the "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" on Sunday's MTV2 "Sucker Free Summit." Many experts pegged Young Money diva Nicki Minaj as the MC who would take the title in the contest in which roughly 200,000 fans voted. Despite her #1 hit, her spate of high-profile collabos and her affiliation with the red-hot Young Money crew, Wiz Khalifa bested the femcee with his breakout Kush & OJ mixtape and boatloads of "Taylor Gang" love. But one expert saw this coming.
"Wiz, keep doing ya thing man, I knew you was gonna pull it off," said Steve Raze, executive vice president and "Breeding Ground" editor of AllHipHop.com, who named Khalifa as his top pick. "I didn't have any doubt." Raze said Khalifa's lyrical skills vaulted the star to "Breakthrough" status, despite hailing from a city with little renown when it comes to hip-hop. "Pittsburgh — strange area. Nobody can rap from Pittsburgh," Raze said, echoing the sentiment that P-Town is low on big-name MCs. "And then you got this guy, smiling, [sporting] tattoos, and just spittin.' [It makes people say] 'What? Where's that coming from?' He just has this flow that's amazing."
Complex Deputy editor Brendan Frederick said Khalifa scored the most votes because of his intensely loyal Taylor Gang following.
"I think he has done such a great job cultivating his fan base just through touring and through the Internet and everything. He seems to really have a connection with his fans where they really care about him. A lot of artists...just don't have that connection," Frederick said. The editor added Khalifa owes a fair amount of his success to his Kush mixtape. "Last year Drake's So Far Gone turned him from like this complete joke child actor to The Man, basically. I wouldn't say that Kush & Orange Juice has quite done that for Wiz Khalifa but it definitely turned him from being somebody that people counted out to being somebody who immediately people recognized as talent."
Executive editor and general manager of The Source, Amy Andrieux, said that the "kush" has helped out Wiz in ways beyond his mixtape.
"The thing about Wiz Khalifa that made him the top breakout MC is 420. I think right now, the subject of marijuana, of weed, however you want to label it, call it, is really big, it's a hot topic. A lot of people are doing it, sorry to say. I think they're attracted to that, the fact that he's just kinda cool, laid-back, nothing matters. People want to escape to music," Andrieux said. "He gives you a good time when you listen to his music."
Honey magazine editor-in-chief Shanel Odum agreed that fans are not only intrigued by Khalifa's skills, they're also into his signature swagger.
"We did something on Honey with Wiz -- he taught us how to roll a blunt or something like that. It wasn't even like really music-oriented. We were just like, 'Oh, he's a cool dude, let's just do something fun.' It [was] picked up by every single blog, it got us the most traffic that we'd had up until that point. That's when I knew," said Odum. "That shook me. I was like, 'Wow!' " People love him."
Raze also said that not only is the MC's approach changing things for the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene, he's switching up the rap world with his breezy style.
"When you come into the game humble, grateful and happy, he's already changed the complexion of how a rapper should be. Keep in mind, every picture you see of this guy he's smiling, happy," Raze said. "Wiz Khalifa loves what he does. You can see it on his face every time you see him."
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