Known by his stage name, Wiz Khalifa, Cameron Jibril Thomaz is an American rapper, singer and songwriter who’s so appreciated in his hometown of Pittsburgh that 12-12-12 was officially named ‘Wiz Khalifa Day’. But where did the rapper really grow up?
Wiz Khalifa was born in North Dakota, to parents serving in the military. His parents divorced when he was three years old and his childhood was spent moving from place to place, living in Germany, the UK and Japan, before settling in Pittsburgh with his mother and attending high school.
Read on to learn more about Wiz Khalifa’s childhood and musical talent.
Born on September 8, 1987, Wiz Khalifa entered the world in Minot, a city in Ward County, North Dakota. His father, Laurence Thomaz, and mother, Peachie Wimbush-Polk, were both engaged with the US Air Force, so early life for the future star involved a lot of moving.
After his parents’ divorce, Khalifa spent two years without seeing his Mom. Khalifa speaks of this experience as something that’s given him both strength and perspective: “with what I’ve been through, I know that nothing happens right away”.
His parents’ careers took Khalifa to Japan and Europe, but by the age of 9, he’d settled in Pittsburgh with his mother and sister, Lala Thomaz. It was in Pittsburgh that the youngster really began to pursue his music.
To an Air Force Veteran like Laurence Thomaz, his son’s goal of becoming a famous music artist might have been met with resistance, but Laurence says “Despite my military background, it was always my role to be supportive of Cam’s dreams”.
According to Khalifa, “No matter what was going on in my life, my father made sure I’d become a self-sufficient man.”
Khalifa first moved to Pittsburgh at the age of two, but moved around according to his parents’ military postings until 1996. On his return he attended Taylor Allderdice High School.
In an interview with Inspiring Lives Magazine, his mother said she recognised his talent early on: “He was always really funny, quirky, and creative, and he didn’t care what people thought”. Making sure he remained grounded was a priority in her parenting and she’s said, “I began to treat his extraordinary self with touches of humanity, added a lot of normalcy”.
The rapper began recording in a Studio called I.D. Labs, who waived the recording fees after noticing his talent, and he began to make waves in the Pittsburgh area. He soon caught the attention of Pittsburgh native Benjy Grinberg, and Grinberg signed him to Rostrum Records in 2004.
His official debut mixtape ‘Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania’ was released in his final year of high school in 2005, followed by his first full-length album, ‘Show and Prove’, in 2006.
The rapper has self-branded his music as ‘The Pittsburgh Sound’, explaining in an interview with Vibe Magazine that “it’s that down-South bounce, that West coast swag, that East coast flow, we listen to everything”.
On the declaration of ‘Wiz Khalifa Day’ in Pittsburgh, Wiz beamed “Even when I moved around when I was younger, everywhere I went, I told people I was from Pittsburgh.” Despite living in a lot of places, it’s always been Pittsburgh that Khalifa considers home.
You can listen to the rapper’s hit ‘Black and Yellow’ (the colours of his hometown sports team) in the YouTube video below.
Taylor Gang Entertainment
Khalifa founded Taylor Gang Entertainment in 2008, an independent record label that produces music out of Pittsburgh.
Chevy Woods and TY Dollar $ign have both signed to the label, amongst a host of other talented artists who frequently release music in collaboration.
True to his roots, Khalifa remains proud of his Pittsburgh heritage.