Over Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa is 'proof' that persistence pays off. The Pittsburgh rapper landed a deal with Warner Bros. Records for his precocious 2006 indie album Show and Prove. The deal yielded an acclaimed single, "Say Yeah," which turned Alice Deejay's rave chestnut "Better Off Alone" into a strip-club anthem; the song got plenty of buzz on the Internet but barely skirted the U.S. singles charts. After two more failed singles, "All in My Blood (Pittsburgh Sound)" and "Youngin On His Grind," Warner dropped him. Undaunted, Wiz continued to build support for his cleverly rendered hipster thug style, issuing numerous mixtapes as well as a potent indie album, 2009's Deal or No Deal. By 2010, Wiz's time had arrived, thanks to a new class of emcees that mixed a street ethos with fashion-forward cool and deft rhymes. It made a new deal -- this time with Atlantic Records – seem all but inevitable. In the fall of 2010, Wiz Khalifa landed a surprise number-one hit in his hometown tribute "Black & Yellow." The song became ubiquitous when the Pittsburgh Steelers adopted it for their 2011 Super Bowl run. He then followed it up with his major-label bow, Rolling Papers.