Sundance: Wiz Khalifa Talks Oscar Snub, 'Fast & Furious' Sequel and Racism
"I think the lack of diversity is clear. It’s the responsibility of us as a people, black people, to stand up for what we believe in," he says of stars like Will Smith who are planning to boycott the Oscars.
At age 28, Wiz Khalifa is already a music-biz veteran, with two Billboard Hot 100 toppers and six solo albums (provided you count the just-announced Khalifa, due Feb. 5 on Atlantic). But he still doesn’t have a Grammy -- even after being nominated each of the past four years.
In 2016, he may finally have his shot, however: “See You Again” (featuring Charlie Puth), from the blockbuster movie Fast & Furious 7, is up for song of the year, his first nod in one of the four major categories, as well as two other awards.
He sat down backstage before his show at Billboard Winterfest at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, to talk the Grammys, Oscar snubs and Trump.
How would you celebrate if you won a Grammy?
I would celebrate by just making more good music. I don’t really focus on awards, but it would definitely motivate me to put more stuff out there.
Maybe for Fast & Furious 8?
[Laughs] That would be tight! Me and Charlie are definitely going to work on some more music. He’s traveling the world and I’m working on my album, but somewhere in between we’re going to find some time to do something else special. That’s my man, so it ain’t nothing.
Meanwhile, at the Oscars, “See You Again” wasn’t nominated for best original [song]. Do you think you got snubbed?
I don’t really get into the political stuff. I know that there’s a lot to do with who does get nominated and who doesn’t, and it’s not always just the music. And I’m focused on the music.
Michael Fassbender is nominated for playing the lead in Steve Jobs. If there were a Wiz Khalifa biopic, who would play you?
Probably [Tyler James Williams], the kid from Everybody Hates Chris. [Laughs] We’d have to tat him up.
What do you think about stars like Will Smith boycotting the Oscars because of the lack of diversity?
I think the lack of diversity is clear. It’s the responsibility of us as a people, black people, to stand up for what we believe in -- whether it be that you don’t pay attention and don’t care, or if you do then you show passion and you stand up and use your voice.
There’s been a lot of heated, racist rhetoric in the presidential election, especially from Donald Trump. What’s your take on that?
I don’t pay attention to all of that because I operate on a different frequency. I love all people. I'm a black man from an urban community, so I know what it is to come up out of the struggle. I’m looked at differently now because I have money, but I still [experience] the same types of stereotypes and I still feel the same way when I hear [people say racist] things. But at the end of the day, I know there is bigger and better -- when your mind is elevated, that stuff really doesn't matter to you. I’m all about everybody coming together and getting along whether you’re black, white, whatever. My cause is marijuana, peace and music -- everybody enjoys those things. So when it comes down to [politicians] discriminating against people, or saying things that people can’t do or can do, I really can’t pay attention to that.
Why did you call your upcoming album Khalifa?
This project really represents me as a whole: as a person, as a father, and as a musician. That’s why I chose to give it my name.
The first single, “Bake Sale,” features Travis Scott. Why did you decide to collaborate with him?
I’ve been wanting to work with him for a really long time. Before he became as popular as he is, I’ve been aware of his talents. Us being young and having the same energy and some of the same inspirations and a lot of the same crowd, it really just made sense. And then I just really like the dude too.
This story first appeared on Billboard.