He has just spent 12 weeks at No1 in the US, so Wiz Khalifa doesn't need to talk to a New Zealand music journalist. So he doesn't bother. Chris Schulz explains.

Things start badly from the moment the operator calls my phone.

"Are you ready for your interview with Wizzy?" asks the woman tasked with connecting North Dakota rapper Wiz Khalifa to TimeOut in New Zealand. "Is this a male or female?"

It's surprising to discover someone who doesn't have at least a passing knowledge of Khalifa. He and crooner Charlie Puth were responsible for many a tear when their song See You Again appeared alongside a moving montage of late star Paul Walker in this year's third highest-grossing movie, Fast & Furious 7.

Thanks to the film's success, and the song's universal themes about love, loss and family, See You Again became a massive hit. Its 12 weeks at No 1 on the Billboard chart made it first equal with the Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow for the longest time at the top by a rap single.


His crossover success means Khalifa has become a much bigger deal since he was last here, headlining the 2013 Rhythm and Vines festival. He'll be playing Auckland's 12,000-plus Vector Arena for his next show here in September.

So there's a lot to talk about. But once the operator puts "Wizzy" on the phone, Khalifa decides there's very little to say. This is a phoned-in interview - in every sense.

"Are you looking forward to coming back to New Zealand in September?" I ask, kicking off with what's usually a surefire conversation starter.

"Definitely," Khalifa replies, sounding weary.

"Did you enjoy your last show here at Rhythm and Vines?" I continue, following the first of many awkward pauses.

"My last time there was amazing," he replies. He then coughs so much I have to repeat my next question. Sigh.

Listen to a segment from Wiz Khalifa's TimeOut interview:

Rappers can be terrible at answering the phone. I've tried many times, and failed many times, to talk to Danny Brown, Mac Miller and The Game. But rappers have also provided career highs. Like the time Will.i.am crooned unreleased Michael Jackson songs down the phone. Or when I hugged super-humble duo Run the Jewels goodbye after a backstage chat in Los Angeles, just weeks after their album of the year, Run the Jewels 2, came out.

Sure, Khalifa has plenty of excuses for checking out. He's a very big deal, and he's trapped on his tour bus travelling to Missouri for the next show on his joint tour with Fall Out Boy. He's also a notorious weed smoker - his very own strain is called Khalifa Kush - and those constant coughs may hint at one hell of a big night.


"I'm on the road every day, it's pretty much a party already," he says when I ask how he celebrated See You Again's success. That's one of the interview's most revealing moments.

Even when Khalifa manages to garner the energy to say something, there's little worth reporting. He says his September show here will be "crazy"; he's happy his song has helped fans "move on from traumatic experiences"; he had no problems working with unknown singer Puth because he was "a big fan"; and he likes performing See You Again live because "the crowd goes nuts".

But his lack of enthusiasm is a shame. Khalifa, born Cameron Jibril Thomaz, is an interesting chap. The 27-year-old is a dad, to 2-year-old Sebastian Taylor Thomaz, the result of a short-lived marriage to model Amber Rose. That marriage ended, possibly because of rumours he made a sex tape with Playboy model Carla Howe.

He is sponsored by The Cookie Factory, a medical marijuana dispensary responsible for growing Khalifa Kush.

He's also a colourful, confident rapper capable of making bona fide hits. Sure, Khalifa isn't as highly regarded as rap-poet Kendrick Lamar or as ambitious as Kanye West. But he isn't trying to be. His latest album Blacc Hollywood has a pretty enjoyable party anthem called Ass Drop on it.

And Khalifa's well-connected, with Nicki Minaj, Schoolboy Q, Rick Ross and Nas featuring on his album. Last time Snoop Dogg performed in New Zealand, he performed Khalifa's second-biggest hit, Black and Yellow, and it was one of the highlights of his set.

Anyway, back to the most awkward interview ever. Khalifa takes a deep breath when I ask if he feels pressure to follow up the success of See You Again. He then utters his longest sentence: "I feel like it's so fresh, everything just happened just now, I'm going to be living off this for the next couple of months, and then into years." And that's pretty much it.

For my final four questions, Khalifa utters just nine words in response: "Nah, not at all"; "Yeah, totally"; "Nah"; and "Appreciate it".

Exhausted with doing most of the talking, I give up and say my goodbyes. I check Khalifa's Twitter feed, only to find a celebratory tweet Khalifa recently sent: "Got so wasted in real life forgot to tell Richard happy birthday." Let's hope he stops the party in time for his show here in September, or he might phone that in, too.

Who: Rap star Wiz Khalifa
Where: Friday, September 25, Vector Arena, Auckland

Wizzy by numbers



Albums released:


Awkward pauses during interview:


Coughs during interview:


Weeks See You Again spent at No 1:




Words rapped in See You Again:


Words said during interview:


- TimeOut