By Rob Markman, with reporting by FLX
Wiz Khalifa flies high. Since his 2009 mixtape Flight School the Taylor Gang captain has been delivering top-notch rhymes about the air up there, but when he releases his major label sophomore effort O.N.I.F.C. (Only N—a in First Class) expect Wiz to take things a level higher.
For the most part, the Taylor Gang captain has kept the project under wraps, only releasing the album’s lead single “Work Hard, Play Hard,” but while he is putting the finishing touches on the LP, Wiz gave MTV News a sneak peek for our Hip-Hop Music Preview. From the album’s cryptic title to its key influences, Khalifa breaks it all down.
The Title: O.N.I.F.C. (Only N—a in First Class)
“The title O.N.I.F.C. is pretty much how I feel about where I’m at in the game right now. What I’ve worked to achieve and just what I plan on staying as. I just really wanted it to be the best rap album possible. Not with a bunch of less obvious songs, in your face, but just with stuff that makes sense. It’s definitely the next level in the best of the best that it could be at this point, for sure.
The Album Cover
“The artwork, it relates to the title. It relates to what I’ve been portraying and what I’ve been bringing to the game for the past couple of months, because like I say, in my music, and like I’ve been saying recently, ’They stole the swag and I don’t want it back.’ I had to change up things; I had to turn it up. So it’s like the album artwork is just another step in the turning up.”
The Recording Process
“I’ve just been blessed to have people around me and to be in a situation where I enjoy myself all the time. But I’m also working all the time. I just really like to keep all my core people around me. Everybody who was there in the beginning: [my manager] Will, my producers E. Dan, Sledgren, Chevy [Woods], my artists, of course, that I have on my label with me that I respect their opinions. Juicy J was heavily involved this too, which is a little bit different because now I got that veteran stamp.”
The Cinematic Influence
“It would be ’Bronx Tale,’ but it would be without Sonny getting shot in the back of the head, ’cause that part sucks. He was smiling, he was so happy to see C, then he got his head blown off. So ’Bronx Tale’ without Sonny’s head being blown off.”
“Work Hard, Play Hard”
“Anybody who knows me or is close to me, they know how much I work and they know how much I party. It’s the balance of life. You do one to get to the other and that’s why ’Work Hard’ is first, because that’s what we do.”
“I get pretty personal on there, it’s like a reflection of me and where I’m at right now. I feel like I did that the best way without getting too preachy or going too deep to the point where I lost anybody. I kept it all in the same playing field so it makes sense. I said, ’I’m put here to take care of the family, but how was I supposed to know/ If I don’t take care of myself huh, then how am I supposed to grow.’ It’s simple, but it means a lot, and anybody who works their ass off will understand and be like, ’Man, the dude is talkin’ some sh–.”
The End Result
“What people will get from the album is they’ll understand that I’m locking down my lane and being the best at what I do. Not really to try to expand to points that people don’t know or expect from me, but just really, really be the best at what people know Wiz for.”