Last year, [artist id=”2427571″]Wiz Khalifa[/artist] bested his peers to be named MTV News’ Hottest Breakthrough MC , and to kick off 2011, the “Black and Yellow” lyricist has earned a nod as one of our 11 in ’11 stars to watch.
“It’s great,” the Pittsburgh MC told MTV News about the honor. “I got a lot of work to do. I’ve done a lot of work to get where I’m at, but I have to keep working. And, hopefully, I’ll be the best artist of the year.”
The upstart artist began his ascent years ago in the underground with a series of mixtapes and independent projects, most notably the Rostrum Records release Show and Prove and last year’s breakout Kush and Orange Juice.
The lanky 23-year-old’s breezy sound and green-friendly rhymes inspired a slew of followers, which he dubbed the Taylor Gang for their dedication to the old-school Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers and their laid-back attitude. That cult following helped Wiz soar past Jay-Z protégé J. Cole, reality star-turned-rapper Diggy Simmons and Jay Electronica in fan voting for the Hottest Breakthrough MC crown.
After the win, Wiz kept the momentum going by releasing his official debut single, “Black and Yellow”; the Stargate-produced number is an ode to his city’s sports teams, since the NFL’s Steelers and MLB’s Pirates sport the colors. After its rise up the charts, the song earned a gold plaque, and Wiz later recruited Snoop Dogg, T-Pain and Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J for the remix .
Now, as he puts the finishing touches on his still-untitled debut album, tentatively due in March, he’s expanding his empire by collaborating with Snoop on a movie and soundtrack and readying himself for all the challenges he’ll face.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said about the forthcoming year. “I know what I’m here to do, as far as working and always just building. It’s good to have that. I work really hard, so now I have to work 10 times harder than I ever worked before. I’m here.”
Check out MTV News’ 11 for ’11 — actors, musicians and TV stars who are about to have a huge year — all week long.