Weed, Inspiration, and the 'Burgh (with Wiz Khalifa) | Crooked Media
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May 18, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
Weed, Inspiration, and the 'Burgh (with Wiz Khalifa)

In This Episode

Rapper-turned-marijuana mogul Wiz Khalifa joins Damon in a conversation spanning parenthood, Pittsburgh, and the changing weed business. Plus, Damon and Wiz counsel a young writer about safely (and effectively) working substances into the creative process.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Growing up in Pittsburgh, we’re not really exposed to how influential we are on the entertainment industry or creative world or things like that. So we look for outside inspiration because we’re not trained to look within and know that ourselves we’re so dope, but we have a lot of great graffiti writers, we have a lot of great skaters. We have dope tattoo artists, we have good videographers, directors, just a lot of different things that aren’t just music. So if you want to be inspired, you want to do dope shit. Pittsburgh is really the spot for it. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: Welcome back, everyone to Stuck with Damon Young, the show where because of today’s guest, we are officially rethinking our official show policy on smoking weed. I don’t have anything against it. Never did. I’ve smoked many times, but it has never really did much for me. But again, because of today’s guests, I think I have a newfound willingness to continue to explore it and maybe find that new strain, that old strain, that strain specifically for me. On today’s very special episode of Stuck with Damon Young, we’re joined by artist, entrepreneur and Pittsburgher Wiz Khalifa for a long conversation about many things, including his Pittsburgh accent, the discipline of being and staying a successful artist, parenthood and the evolution of his feelings about the criminal justice system and abolition. And then for dear Damon Wiz and I help advise an artist who wants to know smoking weed is becoming a crutch or a cure for the creative process. All right y’all. Let’s get it. [music plays] So joining us today is artist actually multihyphenate and also fellow Pittsburgher, Wiz Khalifa. Wiz one of the things I want to talk to you about is something that I noticed with your career, also with Mac Miller now, I mean, where you have people who, you know, are doing the thing in the city, but it’s almost as if you blow up once you leave the city and then it’s like, okay, once you leave the city and blow up. And I remember this happened to August Wilson where he didn’t blow up until he left Pittsburgh. Then after he left Pittsburgh and became a national name, the city of Pittsburgh embraced him a bit more. Was that your experience or can you speak a little bit about that? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: That was close to my experience, but not really. I had worked for a long time to establish myself with the resources that I had. So at the time I was in high school, you know, just recording ID Labs. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And my management team was E-Dan, Huggy, Chad and Benjy. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And, you know, we would take trips up to New York and things like that, but there was no permanent situation outside of Pittsburgh. Everything would be like trips away and then come back. And that was the main workflow at the time. And that was all the way for me until after Kush & Orange Juice and pretty much Rolling Papers was the first album that I did where I was away from Pittsburgh. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: But the majority of the buzz that I had gained, you know, like through the Internet and just establishing Taylor Gang and for myself, I was still in Pittsburgh, but I was just traveling a lot, going to different places. Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And that’s what I mean though. It’s like you have begun to establish, like, this national name, you know what I mean? And then it became like oh shit this nigga’s from Pittsburgh. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Like I had heard of you. And this is, you know, going back to the early aughts, whatever. And I didn’t even realize you were from the Burgh [laughter] you know what I mean, and the same thing happened with Mac, where, you know, I heard his music. I was familiar with him, but I didn’t realize he was from the Burgh until I did some more research like, shit, this niggas from Philly he went to Allderdice. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Now I used to hoop against Allderdice I used to hoop at Allderdice. So, you know and I don’t know how true that is what other cities where the artists gets the embrace in the city and then kind of blows up nationally where in Pittsburgh it seems like it happens more in reverse. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No I don’t think that’s just Pittsburgh. I think that’s just naturally like being an artist or being a creative or anything like that. I feel like the people that you go to school with or see you in your regular form, they’re not going to rush to be excited about this character that you’re creating. And that’s pretty much what we come up with when we’re artists or whatever we’re, you know, we’re known for what we’re known for as a regular person, but we’re creating this character. So outside of the city, people don’t know us. They they only know the character. So that’s what they’re able to associate music or their first experiences with. But people inside of your city, their first experiences, with you are at middle school or elementary school or so, it’s hard to separate that and make them attach the music to it. But, you know, after a while and after just putting in work and, you know, people respecting your craft and seeing that you are accepted other places, I think it does help and it does validate you as an artist. You know, I think it’s just all part of the process. I don’t think one or two is completely necessary, but it does help when you travel outside of the city and get that validation from from other areas. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, the validation matters. And to your point is the creation of a character. And it does make sense that, you know, people who have been with you who remember you in different contexts, you know, might be a bit more slow to embrace this new character as someone who is meeting you as a character for the first time. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? They don’t know you. They know Wiz, whereas people who know you have to actually come to get to know the character that you created. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Right. 

 

Damon Young: But, you know, and I think it’s not necessarily unique to Pittsburgh. There’s also a bit of a self-consciousness sometimes with the city where it’s like, you know what I think this nigga’s dope, I think he’s doing his thing, but I’m going to wait. [laughs] I’m going to wait til someone in some other city give them a cosign before I jump out there and cosign too, you know, I mean. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: From my personal experience, it’s just it was hard for Pittsburgh to find their own identity and everybody had so many different things that they gravitated towards. So it was hard for people to identify with what they really, really like or what they don’t like. It was all over the place and it still is a really big mixture. So it’s hard for people to, you know, just put a finger on what one or two sounds that they identify as what Pittsburgh is or this side of the city or what this generation is. It always develops and it always changes. And I think it’s just up to the creatives and to the artists to kind of guide that and just shift it in whichever direction that we feel like it’s going to go. But there’s no real shortage of it or shortage of acceptance of it. It’s just really pushing it out there and being confident about it. 

 

Damon Young: And speaking of that Pittsburgh sound, or I guess the lack of a sound that’s associated with Pittsburgh, right? There’s a Pittsburgh accent. And I know that there are artists who have left the city who have had like a self-consciousness or an embrace of that unique accent that comes from Pittsburgh in that you can hear it in your music, you can hear people who have left here have been away from here for like 20 years. And you can still hear it. What’s your relationship been like with that?

 

Wiz Khalifa: I think just early on it’s easier for Pittsburgh artists to, like, emulate whatever they hear. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Whether it’d be like the earlier cats who sounded more East Coast, more New York derivative or you know, you have some I mean, some dudes who sound like they from down south, they talk like they’re from freakin Louisiana sometimes and some shit like it’s just the inspiration. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: For a lot of Pittsburgh artists. They they get inspired and they go deep into that as opposed to just sticking to what they do or what they actually know. So it might be easy to go away from like your accent or your words that you would normally say, but the more that you go into it and that you identify yourself with that, you figure out that that’s what will set you apart from everybody. So I think it’s just really like trial and error and like that comes with being an artist as well as just trying the things that you look up to and then figuring out the things that you don’t even know exist at certain points. 

 

Damon Young: And I agree with that. And I’ve had that bit of a self-consciousness with my writing. And the center of the literary universe is New York City. And so there have been times where I’ve been like not necessarily compelled but anxious about flattening out the Pittsburgh of me. And I got over that because it’s like, you know, the Pittsburgh thing is what makes me unique. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Because they’re a bunch of niggas from New York City, bunch of niggas from D.C., bunch from Chicago, L.A., whatever. But Pittsburgh, our own language, our own accent, our own references, you know, Kennywood Park to David’s Shoe’s— So I mean, we got em, you know what I mean, and any young person who’s trying to do art coming up, you know, I advise them just embrace where you’re from. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. I think growing up in Pittsburgh, we’re not really exposed to how influential we are on the entertainment industry or creative world and things like that. So we look for outside inspiration because we’re not trained to, you know, look within and know that ourselves. We’re so dope. But we have a lot of great graffiti writers, we have a lot of great skaters. We have dope tattoo artists, we have good videographers, directors, just a lot of different things that aren’t just music or being in the studio or you know what I mean? Being in front of the camera. So if you want to be inspired or you want to do dope shit, like Pittsburgh is really the spot for it and a lot of people don’t know that. So the more you start to know that and understand and the more knowledge and you start to figure out how much behind the scenes shit happens from people from Pittsburgh, you start to be like, oh okay, well, I got it. I just got to bring the energy and the flavor that I’m blessed with that I know, and that will cut me from the rest of the people that was back home and separated me from them. You know what I mean, I still got love for everybody, but clearly I’m different. So it’s like if I can make it out of that, then I can make it anywhere in the world. 

 

Damon Young: Now who were your influences like in the city, you know, in terms of people that you when you were coming up and thinking about, you know, becoming an artist. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Man, it was a ton of people. So many people like that if I started naming names, I would miss names. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: But like the main people, those like DJ Huggy, [?] 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Government, Woozy, Scorching Hot. Yeah. See, I didn’t even want to start naming people [laughter] because then it’s, then it’s I’m gonna start losing out on people. But like, those are some of my real close people who I was like, in the studio with, coming up with in [?] with like battling and shit like that. 

 

Damon Young: You took it back with Woozy, and Scorching Hot. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know Scorching Hot, you know, I remember those mixtapes. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. Yep.

 

Damon Young: Wow. [laughs] You know, shifting gears a bit, I know that you’ve had a nuanced relationship with marijuana, right? You’ve gone from someone who has been arrested for possession and now you have your own line. Has that relationship, I guess, on both sides where it wasn’t legal and now it’s legal and you’re able to take advantage of it. Has that relationship influenced your thoughts about abolition? You know, what I mean about like people who might have gotten caught up for stuff. And now you see people making millions of dollars for the same shit that people are locked up for today. You know what I mean, so has that influence your feelings about incarceration and abolition in any context? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Definitely on both ends. As somebody who’s gone through it and there’s somebody who’s made it out of it, I just look at it as, you know, anybody who’s in that situation or was in that situation, whatever previous laws or, you know, fucked up thing put them there. You can’t change that. But you can always change where you’re moving forward from it. The more you learn about it and the more you educate yourself, the better off you’re going to be. It’s one thing to just say what you should be doing or what you deserve, and it’s another thing to really go out there and get it. And the way that the industry is set up now is for anybody to really put themselves in a position to be at the top or at a higher level just by, you know, learning and getting in the game and really doing it the right way. And that’s my advice for everybody is to just figure it out your own way and try to do it the right way. So those things aren’t really problems anymore because, yeah, there were problems in the past, but they’re not issues anymore and I’ve been through it. I still get profiled and a lot of just being a Black business owner. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: There’s a lot of things that I go through on the financial side that people may or may not see, but it’s worth it in the long run. So you just got to stick in there and know that this is a fight, so if it’s worth it. You put up the fight and you know, we’re going to be billionaires just like the other cats playing on being, they’re not going to, you know, just get us out of there. We got to stick in there. We got to stay smart and stay educated about it. 

 

Damon Young: How did you get into it? What was the impetus that made you decide? Like, you know what, let me get on this side of it. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I started with Genetics with Berner. He kind of introduced me to the game, naturally, from my love of it, of good weed and enjoying the lifestyle of being stoned and not just, you know, getting high like majority of rappers, but really being in love with the plant. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And trying to provide the best experience for people through the plant. You know, we’ve seen how valuable it was as far as marketing, because there was nobody who was able to do it on our level. But also there’s nobody who really loves it as much as we do. 

 

Damon Young: And, you know, obviously, you’re someone with a name. You got you got the money, you got the backing. You know what I mean? You can put your face on a product. People are going to pay attention to it. And so how would you advise someone who maybe doesn’t have that same sort of status but is interested in getting into this business? Like, what would you tell them? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Even if you do have that status that’s not what people are concerned with. People are concerned with the product. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And the best product is going to win. And that’s what I always made sure that product is best is based off of my personal taste and what I like. But I have really good taste, so it’s the highest of the high and the marketing goes with it. Because I’m great at marketing myself, nobody else can put up a plan or come up with a scheme to make people want to buy into the things that I’m doing better than I can do myself. And it’s something that I’ve been working on for ten years plus. So anybody who wants to, you know, get into it just know that it takes a long time, a lot of work. It’s not going to happen overnight and the best product is going to win. 

 

Damon Young: I mean, you spoke a bit about some of the challenges you face just as a Black entrepreneur in this space, you know, unique challenges that some of the white boys and some white women or whoever non-Black people in this space haven’t necessarily faced. Can you speak to some of those? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I mean, just purchasing stuff with money through bank accounts, they look at it as me owning weed companies and buying property or other businesses with this marijuana money, and they don’t really like that. 

 

Damon Young: I was also curious too, about like I’m a get back to the question about abolition. Do you consider yourself an abolitionist now? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No, but do I think I’m considered one? Yeah.

 

Damon Young: Okay. Can you break down the distinction between being considered one and actually being one? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I don’t consider myself one because the work that I do is personal. 

 

Damon Young: Okay.

 

Wiz Khalifa: But I feel like I’m considered one because the work that I do is spans very large, so. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I can’t help it. 

 

Damon Young: I also you know what I mean just want to talk to you about just, and you see this with people who particularly people who have to be on stage, have to be in front of people. Where there comes a point in your life where you have to be more mindful about taking care of your body, taking care of yourself, working out, getting in the gym, sleeping right, all of that now is that something I know that’s something that you’ve been into. Was there like an impetus for that, like a thing that happened, or was this just a progressive thing that you saw? Like you know what if I want to continue if I want to extend my career. You know, I got to be in better shape. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No. For me, it was like you get older and your body just starts to tell you different things. Your mind starts to tell you different things. Shit happens that you don’t even know for any reason. And I feel blessed to be in my thirties and still have new inspirations and things to wake up to be excited about because I feel the same way about music. But I’ve been doing music for 20 years, so I had those feelings when I was in elementary school or junior high school and things like that. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: So it’s like, I still love music, but you get to a point where you still want new challenges and you want things that are goal oriented and lifelong. And, you know, for me, health and fitness is is a lifelong goal and it’s something that I can get better at every day. I learn more every day. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: It’s something that challenges me, is something that makes me accountable, is something that disciplines me. And these are all things that you need. The older that you get, the more successful that you get. And a lot of people, they have somebody who sit them down in a corner and tell them, you need to do this, you need to do that. But I’m a boss. I tell myself what to do. So that’s what happened. 

 

Damon Young: And you mentioned finding new inspirations, and I’m curious, not just with music, but what do you read and what do you watch? And also what are you listening to? What are you doing that’s like, yo, this shit is dope, this is inspiring. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mainly my inspiration comes from my kid, You know, he’s ten years old, so everything that he does is hella fresh. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Hella new. He’s on TikTok. He’s knows all the dances. He knows all lot of the trendy shit. So I’m able to keep up with that whatever movies like he I let him watch, you know, adult movies like rated R shows. So we go see scary movies together. He keeps me up with all of that new shit. So that’s really my inspiration is just life, man. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Like I write based off of my life. I create based off of where I’m at in my life. And if I’m having, you know, light or trying to do this, I’m really enjoying life. And that’s just inspirational in itself. 

 

Damon Young: I’m happy to hear that for real. So how do you find that discipline? You know, I mean, because I guess, you know, that sort of discipline to, you know, to start a business, to be organized, to take care of yourself is not necessarily what people think of or associate with with artists, but you are someone who has managed to basically not just run a business but be a business. Right? So how did you develop that? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah, I just, you know, I’m very appreciative for what I have and I’m super aware of it. I worked really hard to get here. And a lot of it was just by natural talent and, you know, really good intuition and a lot of hard work. And just knowing that people look at me as a legend, you know, just for what I’ve done musically in the game. I can see past that. I can see further than that. And I don’t see all of my worth just being in the studio. You know, I’m really, really good in the studio and super dope in the studio, but I don’t see all my worth being there. So I train outside of the studio to be worth the same amount on the outside. And I look at myself, like you say, as a business and not just an artist. I look at myself like how the billionaires are the people who run the companies. And being aware of that and aware of where artists fall short. Where they just let certain people handle certain things or they just party and get fucked up and be creative and let other people make billions of dollars off of them while they’re happy with millions? I made the millions, but I’m not. I mean, I’m happy. But, you know, I’m not satisfied with knowing that I could do more. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: You know, with doing more, you have to bring more out of yourself. So that comes with discipline. Going to sleep at a certain hour, getting up at a certain hour, doing certain things that make you separate you from just being an artist or just being a legend in the game as somebody who did something music wise, you know, I’m going to be in this for a very, very long time. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I’m going to be looking good while I’m doing it, so it’s all pushing me on to the next level. Everybody, the best is yet to come. 

 

Damon Young: I feel you. And, you know, I guess I also want to ask, like, because some of that same discipline, right. Is required to be a successful artist, particularly a successful artist come from Pittsburgh. I’m sure you apply some of those same properties with your life now, but are there any distinctions between I guess a discipline required to be an artist and a discipline required to be Wiz Khalifa today? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Nah, man. Honestly, I think there’s a huge difference because it doesn’t require discipline to be an artist. You could be homeless and be the fucking greatest artist in the world and have a good team behind you and nobody ever even know. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Art is art. It just comes from pain. It comes from whatever like you know what I mean? The discipline is what I’m talking about. Like to run the business and to be bigger than the artist. The person who actually is in charge of the artist. And like I said, I’m a boss I’m in charge of myself. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I’m out of commission and somebody is able to do something for me that I’m not able to do for myself. And as my career grew and as it lengthened from five to 10 to 15 to going on 20 years, you know, the routine just has to change. And as a musician, I did a lot. I did a great amount of stuff, just natural talent, you know, waking up, going to sleep, staying up all night partying and blah, blah, blah. But now it’s the more disciplined, the more structured version of that, and it’s going to make it last longer. That’s why a lot of artists burn out early because they don’t really understand. Like, you have to protect that art too. You have to rebuild it and you have to treat it the right way. And that’s what I’m doing, as you know, for myself personally—

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: —and business wise. 

 

Damon Young: Now, shifting back also wanted to ask obviously, you know, marijuana is legal and there’s and there’s also there’s more education and more knowledge about the positive effects of it and the positive effects on it in a positive effects on just not just mental health, but sometimes even the creative process. Now, were those things that you were aware of before it became legal and before you became more educated about it, like the actual positive effect it had on on your body, which went past just it feeling good? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No, I really wasn’t just coming from Pittsburgh. We had never been educated on how weed can affect people or the best parts about pot. We just knew what bad weed was and what good weed was. We was in search of the best weed. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And for me personally, my relationship with it was only through music and just chillin with the homies. So that was just my way of like, you know, hearing instruments that I never heard or just paying attention to arrangements. I would just zone out and listen to different music and just hear how songs were arranged. And that’s kind of how I learned how to write and structure things. And I think anybody goes through that, whether it’s when you’re stoned or, you know, on your own. But the weed definitely helped to bring that out and, you know, help me have a different type of relationship with music. 

 

Damon Young: How old were you when start smoking? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I don’t really say. 

 

Damon Young: [laughs] All right. So let’s let’s just say 15 years. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Cool. 

 

Damon Young: All right, let’s put it at that. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah, that’s that sounds about right. 

 

Damon Young: All right [laughs] well. Aside from the fact that it makes you money today and you have a business around it, or has it changed at all? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No, hasn’t changed. 

 

Damon Young: Okay. It’s still as much a part of your creative process it’s still a part of you know, and we haven’t really talked about the mental health aspect. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Is it something that assists with any anxiety or any mental health issues? Does that help you calm down? Does it help you? I don’t know, relax?

 

Wiz Khalifa: Well, first off, I just love pot. Like, that’s the—

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: —original thing, that’s number one.

 

Damon Young: [laughs] All right. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I love pot. Always have, always will. I love the plant, and the it’s just a beautiful living thing. But for me, yeah, it calms me down. It relaxes me. And yeah, I feel like throughout the years it had a lot to do with the level headedness look I’m not a really, you know, anxious or high strung person that my reactions would be different if I wasn’t on pot. But, you know, I feel like if everybody had something that was productive, that helped them, that wasn’t bad for their health and that could, you know, make them happier like pot, you know, if they could function on weed, it would help out a lot of people. So that’s why it’s good now, because people are figuring out the dosages that are appropriate for them. So, you know, while I might sit down to smoke four joints, you might need to only take two hits or something like that. So it’s just figuring out the responsible use the same way that anything else is given out or figured out. So that’s where we are at with it now. And I like that part of it is everybody figuring out their own way to smoke pot, not trying to smoke it like everybody else. 

 

Damon Young: I mean, do you feel like a guru, like people could come to you, you know, if they need some advice or they need something? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah, 100%. The shaman it’s the shaman. Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. Okay. [laughs]

 

Wiz Khalifa: Okay. Yeah, that’s me for sure. 

 

Damon Young: Well, I appreciate you coming through. Where can people looking for you right now? Where do you want people to find you or do you want people to find right now? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah, I do want people to find me. I’m. I’m really, really interactive on Twitter. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Look at my Twitter it’s Wiz, all my socials are just @WizKhalifa, regular Wiz Khalifa. So. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Instagram, I do a lot of fun videos and shit on there. TikTok, I’m just now starting them you know, engage more and shit like that. I feel like that’s really fun to go back and forth with the fans and like get them involved. We do and shit, so, you know, if you’re a tailor, you want me to repost your shit? TikTok is the best place to get me to see you and then I’ll repost you and then you get your clout off of that. But if you want to talk to me directly Twitter for that. And if you just want to see me flex, IG. 

 

Damon Young: All right, appreciate you man. [music plays] So up next Wiz is going to stay with us for dear Damon as we help advise someone who is trying to figure out if their marijuana smoking habit is an addiction, if it’s a crutch or if it’s a cure or something that helps their creative process. So stay around for that. But before we get there is Damon hates. [music plays] All right. So last week I was with my kids and we were leaving somewhere. I’m not going to say where. And as I got outside, I saw that my car was being booted like the boot people were literally right there putting the boot on my car. And when they do that in Pittsburgh, they also put a big ass sticker on your driver’s side window, letting the entire world know that your car’s been booted because your ass ain’t paid a parking ticket. So I’m actually a little confused because I don’t even remember the last time I got a ticket. And when I talk to them, there’s actually a stretch back to like pre-pandemic. So I’m there. And again, the boot people are literally right there and they just put the boot on my car and I try negotiating them like I’ll pay right now, it doesn’t matter, etc., etc.. Just let me know how much I need to pay to get this off. And they’re like, no, we can’t do it. You have to go to the main office and physically go there in person to pay. So they give me the number to the office, I call the office and I’m like, yo, they are literally right here. Just take my information over the phone. I will pay it right now. So they could just take it off right now. And I’m not inconvenienced [?] in fact, you know what I will motherfucking Cash App you, whoever works there, I’ll Cash App you the money. If someone has to be there person, I will do that just so this can happen. And they were like, no, you have to be there. You have to come out there. You have to be here in person. Now, this happens at about 5:20, right? And everything closes at six. And so I was fortunate enough that my wife was nearby and was able to give me a ride out there. But it’s just that experience is another reminder of how the criminal justice system is intentionally set up to inconvenience and harm people who are vulnerable economically. Right. Because if I didn’t have the money or if I was in a position where I wasn’t able to get out there in time, then okay, my car is going to have there an extra day, maybe over the weekend. That’s another extra, I don’t know, $50 a day, $100 a day or whatever the fee is. And so it becomes insurmountable, insurmountable, insurmountable. And then it gets to a point where the person just can’t afford it. And again, I’m fortunate, privileged to be in a position where I can afford it. But it’s just there’s just so much like these things are branded as like, okay, we make these fines heavy. We make these fines outrageous to disincentivize people from breaking the law and to incentivize people into paying their tickets on time. But I think that’s the wrong way of looking at it, because these things are actually incentives for them to catch us. They’re incentives for them to get as many people caught up in the system as possible so that they can continue to bleed motherfuckers dry. And so I was able to get to the spot, pay the fee, get my car unbooted that day. It hurt having to pay that much money. But, you know, I was able to do it, but they made me think about all the people. And that’s most people who don’t just have that money sitting around and who end up getting caught up in the system and end up getting these charges and end up not being able to be bailed out, maybe have to spend a week in the jail some bullshit, just because they don’t have any means. And, you know, it happens. I know Pittsburgh isn’t the only city where this happens, but it’s just a really fucked up thing that I wish were different. [music plays] Up next, for dear Damon, Wiz Khalifa joins us again. He’s with us for an entire episode. Morgan the producer, what we got this week? 

 

Morgan Moody: Dear Damon, on your 4/20 episode, you mentioned not being a big smoker despite being a writer. As a writer myself, I do feel that weed heightens my ability to think and write creatively, but I don’t want it to become a crutch for doing so. Is there a balance you found? Or if not, what is your advice on balancing those two warring desires? 

 

Damon Young: All right Wiz Khalifa, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big smoker. You know, I drink to get into into the rhythm, get into the mood where my writing, smoking has just never really did it for me. And so for this person who is trying to find the balance between finding that creative rhythm but not using weed as a crutch, what would you tell him? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Quit thinking so much. Smoke more pot. [laughter]

 

Damon Young: All right. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: You’re thinking too much. Like, oh, I don’t want to use weed as a crutch. You already psyched yourself out of even being creative? That’s my advice. 

 

Damon Young: [laughs] Now, you mentioned before that it’s been an important part of your creative process where you’re just able to hear things clearer. You know what I mean? In a way that you weren’t without it. Do you think that your career would have gone the same way if you didn’t smoke? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: No. 

 

Damon Young: No?

 

Wiz Khalifa: No. 

 

Damon Young: That was the unqualified no. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Because everybody in this industry or in this game, you need a niche or a niche or thing. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And I could rap my ass off. I look cool. I’m tall as hell. But the thing that separated me from everybody else was I smoke more weed. [laughter] I’m aware of it I’m not dumb. This is business, baby. 

 

Damon Young: I agree that it helps to have a thing and helps a niche. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know, we talked before about the Pittsburgh thing. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Right. The Pittsburgh thing matters. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Like even in my own career as a writer, being from Pittsburgh matters, like, whenever there’s an art, whenever there’s a writer who comes through and wants to do a book event, they hit me up. Whereas if I lived in New York City, if I lived in D.C. there’s like 2,000 different niggas to hit up. But you come to Pittsburgh, you’re doing shit with me. And so having a thing does help distinguish you. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know, but I do get why that person has that anxiety, because I’ve also started to wonder if drinking is a crutch for me, particularly like the writing thing, or even if it’s like a bit of a cliche. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I get why anybody would have that anxiety, because anybody would. And weed is definitely way better than alcohol, so fuck that shit. [laughter] If it’s up to weed or drinking, pot all day for shit yo. But like when it comes to being creative, I don’t believe in blocking yourself. Like people want to dig so deep or some of your best shit might come when you fucked up. And you know it’s all about different zones and different you got to live your life, the creative path is fucking criss crossed and it’s like, this is not no straight line. So if you try to do like this and be creative, to me it doesn’t work. And that’s just my advice to be creative. If you want to be professional, all right yeah, put the weed down because everybody can’t function. [laughter] You know what I’m saying? Where if it’s like, you know, being professional and having too many drinks. Yeah. All right, cool. You might want to fall back, but creativity, man, I don’t give a fuck, you know? Do what you want to do. Yo, go hard. Cause that shit might come out crazy as he takes a shot. There you go. [laughter]

 

Damon Young: This is apple juice. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: We’re giving advice to this person, right? Who has the self-consciousness about whether or not they want to use weed as a crutch. And I agree with you. I agree that whatever you need to do to find yourself inside of yourself, because it sounds like this person’s already in their head, this person’s already in a space where they need to kind of get out of that space in order to find that creative space. And so this might help them do it. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: But you don’t want them to overdo it either. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: There’s no such thing as overdoing it. You get a chance to do something every day. I mean, as long as you don’t like, check out. But that’s not what we talk about. We talk about getting inspired. We talked about smoking a little bit of pot. You can overdo that. [laughter]  It’s not possible. Is is humanly impossible to overdose on pot. Can’t do it. 

 

Damon Young: [laughter] You make a good point. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And for the person who wrote in, who asked the question, you heard from the man himself, Wiz Khalifa, do your thing. Get out of your head if it’s writing, if it’s music, if it’s art, if it’s photography, do whatever you need to do in order to get to that space where you’ll be able to create and be able to create something that’s unique and something that’s true to you. You know, some people don’t need anything. Some people can just create shit sober. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I applaud them. 

 

Damon Young: More power to them. [laughter]

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah hell yeah I look up to them. 

 

Damon Young: Power to them niggas. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: That shit’s amazing. Hell yes, that shit’s awesome. 

 

Damon Young: Some people might need alcohol, some people might need weed. Some people might need sex. I mean, there are all types of things that you might need in order to get to that space. Even pre-pandemic, I used to hang out at the Ace Hotel back when it was still in Pittsburgh. I would just get the energy. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: From shit happening around me. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Hell yeah. 

 

Damon Young: Parties happening and people at the bar and that sort of energy was like this white noise. And it helped my creative process because I couldn’t just write sitting at home. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: And I think ultimately this question is about finding out whichever process works the best for you because there’s no right or wrong. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. And in my opinion, like, everybody’s not going to sit down and smoke a joint and come up with the best shit ever. Like, you might write some dumb ass shit if you just try to smoke a joint and concentrate. But if you smoke a joint, go hang out with the homies, go to a concert, smoke another joint, get something to eat, hang out with some girls, smoke a joint, watch a movie. Bam. You might have a motherfucking song now. Like. You know what I’m saying? Like, just you’re not using the weed as a crutch, but you’re not being afraid to live your life and really explore to get to that point that you’re trying to get to, because you’re really if you’re not doing that and you’re writing about nothing, you’re creating nothing. Like you said, you have to go sit around people and get this white noise to actually be living and not just existing. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And that’s the thing. A lot of people are just existing. You can’t create like that. 

 

Damon Young: You’ve known for years, that weed has been a catalyst for something that helps you think through and helps clear out the weeds, clear out the mess that might be circulating in your head, but is there anything else that you do that might help develop or help nurture that creative process? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah, I would say like my equivalent to your white noise is like driving in my car, you know, just jamming to music. A lot of times it’s when I’m by myself, I could be listening to music that I put on or I could be listening to instrumentals and writing or coming up with melodies. I come up with bars while I’m driving. I’ll be like talking to to my notes and shit. It’s just something about driving. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And I don’t know what it is. It just clears my mind and puts me in a space where I can think and be poetic about life and shit like that. That’s one of my favorite places to kind of escape if I haven’t done it for a while, like, say I’m on tour or something like that, or if I have a really busy week and I’m just getting driven around by my driver, I make sure I tell them like, yo, don’t pick me up this day. Like I’m a drive today. [laughs] Like I need that shit to, like, really reset me and put me back in that zone. 

 

Damon Young: I don’t have a driver, but driving is one of them things for me too. It’s an island. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: I mean, you get in your car, you listen to your music. Windows up or down. Either way, it’s like you’re in your own little space. You’re on your own planet, basically. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: You know what I mean? You could just vibe out and just zone out and think about whatever you need to think about. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I come up with hella business ideas like that, too. Like ideas for merch or. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Just how to promote things or release things or ideas for content. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: It’s a really good time for me to just think and be productive. And that’s what it is nowadays, too. About being an artist is not just the next song. It’s like creating a moment or capitalizing off of shit that’s happening around you. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: So you have to be sensitive and you know, those are times where I’m able to kind of field things out like that for sure. 

 

Damon Young: And again, to this person, it might be weed, it might be drinking, it might be driving and not drinking and driving. You don’t want to do them at the same time. Not drinking and driving. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Not drinking. Never. Do not do that. 

 

Damon Young: Might be drinking or driving. I hoop, playing basketball is another thing that helps just jog. I have to do that a couple times a week in order to just relax and chill and be able to sit down and do what I do. And so it’s a journey to figure out what it is and it it could be nothing. It could be one of them niggas who is fine, sober. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Right. [laughs] But I think that that journey, it’s fun. It’s a part of the process too, figuring out, okay, what is my method? What is the routine that is going to enhance my creative process? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yeah. 

 

Damon Young: As we talk about finding whatever it is that you need to help your creative process, you know, I know that you’ve also started to explore like psychedelics, mushrooms on a business end. Now has that been something that has helped you creatively as well? 

 

Wiz Khalifa: I feel like mushrooms just help with life. [laughs] The research that’s being done with mushrooms is really amazing and how they help with mental health and anxiety and a lot of things that, you know, even smoking weed isn’t even the cure for. So the fact that countries and states are allowing recreational use, medicinal use, and just doing research in general on mushrooms is really cool. We’re in a really good space with that, and I just look at it as a great alternative to a lot of different things for people. That’s what we need right now are healthy alternatives and healthy ways to use them. And the more people that we have that are educated about it and the more experience that we get with it, I’m really happy about where we’re going in the mushroom space, but I definitely have my own company it’s called Mistercaps. And as the laws change, there’s a couple countries overseas where they’re full on psychedelic mushrooms. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Wiz Khalifa: And then there’s some places where the active ingredient isn’t in there just yet. So you’ll see it develop and you’ll see people start to learn a lot more about micro dosing and taking mushrooms and the health benefits of it. 

 

Damon Young: All right. And you know, to this person, mushrooms might be your bag too.

 

Wiz Khalifa: Yo [laughter] I don’t really, see I don’t really create off of shrooms because I like to be social off of shrooms. Like shrooms are good to, like, be social, and then you bring that experience back. But hey, to each his own, you know, and you might want to eat an eighth and go crazy. 

 

Damon Young: All right Wiz it has been a pleasure. Thanks for joining us again. Really appreciate it man.

 

Wiz Khalifa: Thank you too man appreciate you too have a great day. 

 

Damon Young: All right, peace. [music plays] Again, just want to thank Wiz Khalifa for just being a great guest. We had a very wide ranging conversation, I mean there’s a lot of this conversation that didn’t even make it into the episode because we talked about a lot and he gave us a lot of his time. So again, we do appreciate that. Thank you all again for joining us on Stuck with Damon Young, you could have been anywhere else in the world, but you came here with us today and we greatly appreciate it. Also, remember, subscribe, listen, Spotify, hit the buttons, tell a friend, share it. Do whatever you need to do to spread the word, spread the gospel of Stuck with Damon Young. And again, if you have any questions about anything whatsoever, hit me up at deardamon@crooked.com. All right y’all. See you next week. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. Our executive producers are Kendra James and Meredith Heringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. And from Gimlet and Spotify our executive producers are Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Lauren Silverman, Nicole Beemsterboer, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam. Follow and subscribe to Stuck on Spotify. Tap the follow button and hit the bell icon to be notified when a new episode drops. 

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