Oh, To Be Wiz Khalifa

Oh, To Be Wiz Khalifa
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What kind of entrepreneur gives his product away for free? Judging by the decade Wiz Khalifa has enjoyed, a very successful one. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t give everything away, and definitely not Khalifa Kush.)  A walking, talking, and—as befits the reputation of a man who once claimed to spend $10,000 a month on cannabis—smoking embodiment of the requisites demanded by the “slash” economy, in which the line between patron and artist isn’t so much blurred as it’s one contiguous broad stroke, the musician-slash-businessman-slash-social media-powered marketing machine broke the internet for three solid days way back in 2010, when he chose to release the critically acclaimed mixtape-slash-lifestyle manifesto Kush and Orange Juice for free. His winning ethos: partying, hanging out with beautiful women, chasing positive vibes and staying extremely high. The business genius lay in knowing that gifting his audience content also meant growing his audience, and thereby his dollars. The next year, Wiz Khalifa was riding on top of the Billboard 100 with “Black and Yellow,” the addictively catchy anthem paying homage to Pittsburgh—his adopted hometown where his acumen in the recording studio attracted attention from record labels before he was even old enough to drive.  By 2013, the prodigy was generating $14 million a year, according to Forbes, enough to be mentioned in the same top-ten list as other luminaries—and similarly multi-faceted business empires anchored in music—including the likes of Drake, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg. Of course, there was one major difference: Aside from Snoop Dogg, Wiz was the only one doing it while also centering weed. And he was doing it well before cannabis legalization entered the mainstream.  Had he been coming up a decade earlier, that might have been dismissed as too risky of a move by Wiz’s handlers in the marketing department over at his record…

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