Wiz Khalifa Addresses Backlash Over O.N.I.F.C. Cover

The rapper explains the inspiration behind the album art for his sophomore effort.

Posted: 08/21/2012 11:24 AM EDT
Wiz Khalifa Addresses Backlash Over O.N.I.F.C. Cover

(Photo: Atlantic Records)

Wiz Khalifa was hit by a tidal wave of Internet commentary when he debuted the album art for his highly anticipated sophomore album O.N.I.F.C., in which he appears shirtless in a snow leopard fur coat and tight red-and-white stripe pants.

Wiz defended the cover on Twitter shortly after it was revealed earlier this month, saying, "The cover art should give you confidence and let you know you can fully be yourself in front of people no matter what they say or think." Now in a recent interview with Karen Civil, the Taylor Gang leader has elaborated on his mind state regarding the cover and people's reaction to it.

"With the [O.N.I.F.C.] cover and everything, it's just moving into the future," he said. "We can't stay where we've ever been at, we got to move forward… I think that's the beauty of it — so many people try to plan all those types of situations and be like, 'This is what it is, that's what it is.' I don't know what [the response] is gonna be. I do what I feel, and then people react to it."

Khalifa said he never expected the album art to be so divisive.

"When [the cover] got its reaction, it was crazy to me 'cus I thought people was gonna love it. I thought they would be like, 'Yo, this is the craziest cover, this is the best sh-- I've ever seen in my life'…when I sat down and thought about it, I was like, 'Well, whether they're talking about how bad it is or how good it is, they're talking about it,' and that becomes the thing for the day, week, month, however long it lasts. It's a good thing, and I believe in it, so that's what's most important."

In the interview, the Pittsburgh emcee also addressed charges that his newfound aesthetic was cribbed from Jimi Hendrix. Wiz argued that it's not Hendrix he's channeling so much as the spirit of his era.

"[Jimi Hendrix] is definitely an influence, but it's not just [that]. Jimi Hendrix is a great person, I love Jimi, but like that whole era of music, they all look like that. When you look back at that time and the Vietnam days…that's what people looked like at that time. Me having an afro and me wearing a bandanna around my head and people think now I look like Jimi Hendrix, it doesn't mean I'm trying to be Jimi. Yeah, I love Jimi, but that's not really exactly who I'm trying to be. I embody that mind frame and spirit of what was going on at that time, how people really felt about how important it was to stand up for what you believe in and to fight for what was yours, whether it be your culture or your family."

O.N.I.F.C. is slated to hit stores September 18.

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