Sometimes, getting dropped by your label is a good thing.... Actually, it seems to be better and better these days. Going independent allows an artist to build up his or her fan base, release music when- and however he or she wants, and then take all that added value to the negotiation table later on.
That's exactly what the next great Internet rap hope, Wiz Khalifa
, has done. The 23-year-old Pittsburgh native signed to Warner Bros. back in 2007, and scored a minor radio hit with the single "Say Yeah" -- only to go indie soon after. This was the right choice. As a hungry, street-level artist, Khalifa built up enough buzz among fans and press to score a spot in XXL
magazine's reputation-sealing "10 Freshmen for '10" spread.
His free mixtape Kush and Orange Juice
, released this past April, became a bona fide hit (and a trending topic on Twitter), and his recent South Florida show, this past June at Revolution, sold out days before. A new deal was likely on the horizon, and it seemed that Khalifa was in talks with Rick Ross' rising local juggernaut, the Def Jam subsidiary Maybach Music
Alas, Khalifa decided to go with Atlantic, he announced this past weekend
. That won't dampen his budding friendship with the boss though. He told MTV News:
"It's a huge honor for him to even extend a hand like that. [It's] crazy for him to even look out like that. Me and Ross is always gonna be working, I think," Khalifa said. "He sees my vision. I think he gets what I'm trying to do. Even if it ain't no paperwork between me and Ross, it's gonna be work done between me and Ross."
New Wiz Khalifa material is forthcoming, he says, and he and his label are still debating between a few options for his next single. (A Pittsburgh Steelers-themed song, "Black and Gold," is a possibility.)