In-depth Biography Possessing a keenness that belied his age, Pittsburgh, PA, rap lyricist Wiz Khalifa came to be a rising star over the course of the late 2000s based on his young bravado and hardcore yet charismatic execution of rhymes. Consciously building up his city's hip-hop reputation, he sought out to create a sound that was uniquely Pittsburgh, relying on his East Coast (Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan), Southern (Three 6 Mafia), and other (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) hip-hop influences. A military brat, Khalifa, whose real name is Cameron Thomaz, was born in 1987 in Minot, ND. After his parents divorced when he was about age three, he lived in various places and military bases around the world before settling in Pittsburgh. He was constantly writing during that time and soaked up a great deal of knowledge from his globetrotting experiences. His first attempt at committing lyrics to paper happened around age nine, and at 12 he was already recording and producing his own records in his father's Oklahoma studio.
As soon as he returned to Pittsburgh, Khalifa laid down the groundwork to begin a solo career and kept busy recording music in a local studio, called I.D. Labs, in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of the city. Khalifa stood out among the studio's regulars, prompting the I.D. Labs staff to offer him free beats and recording time, plus bringing him to the attention of Benjy Grinberg, a former executive assistant to L.A. Reid at Arista Records who had started up a new independent label, Rostrum Records. Signed to Rostrum, Khalifa built a buzz in Pittsburgh with a few singles, but he began to draw eyes and ears nationally during his senior year in high school with his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, in early 2006. And with the release of his independent full-length debut, Show and Prove, later that year, major publications, including Vibe, XXL, and Rolling Stone, featured profiles on the young rapper, projecting him to be the leading voice of Pittsburgh hip-hop. A regular staple on Pittsburgh radio, Khalifa was definitely living up to that prediction, going on to sell tens of thousands of mixtapes, not to mention tens of thousands of Show and Prove copies around the country. It was only a matter of time before the major labels came looking for the stand-out Pittsburgh rapper. In summer 2007, Khalifa and Rostrum hopped on board with Warner and cut his first major-label single, "Young'n on His Grind." ~ Cyril Cordor, Rovi