At just 28 years old, Will Dzombak is living a dream in the music industry.
The Penn Stater manages Grammy-nominated Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Starting with a relationship the two formed when Dzombak booked Khalifa to perform in Happy Valley, the duo’s been together for ten years. Throughout the decade, Khalifa secured two No. 1 singles — “Black and Yellow” and “See You Again” — and co-founded record label Taylor Gang.
Khalifa and Dzombak met in high school, but it was a weekend in 2007 when Khalifa performed in State College that the two connected.
Dzombak formed Nittany Booking while he was studying music management and business at Penn State. He brought in Khalifa for a Delta Upsilon benefit concert, but without a place to go for the weekend, the rapper stayed with Dzombak at his apartment.
After becoming friends through that weekend, Dzombak started working for Khalifa and officially became his manager — they put a tour together in the summer of 2008.
Dzombak was still at Penn State at the beginning of this partnership. He worked for Khalifa three hours away from his Pittsburgh location. He scheduled show after show for the rapper, building relationships with different promoters until Khalifa’s stardom took off with the 2010 Deal or No Deal Tour and his Billboard 200 No. 2 album Rolling Papers in 2011.
This story really started with a high school band — The Elderly — that Dzombak managed. His love for backstage responsibilities began with that gig, but his career wasn’t always completely successful as he struggled to catch on with different entertainment programs at Penn State.
“I applied several times for Movin’ On but was never selected,” Dzombak said. “Unfortunately kinda the same with the BJC programs, so for me it’s pretty interesting. It’s just a lesson to continue following your dreams and don’t get discouraged if things don’t always go your way.”
As Khalifa’s fame soared and Dzombak’s career ascended, the two brought in bigger performers to Taylor Gang, which they co-run. Starting with Chevy Woods in 2011, Taylor Gang signed Juicy J in 2012 and Ty Dolla Sign in 2013 to fill out one of the best lineups for a label in hip-hop.
The label produced independently for most of its existence, but a deal Taylor Gang signed in October with Atlantic Records has all of Dzombak’s signees on the rise — including a young recent edition that switches it up a bit in genre for the label.
“We recently just closed our label deal with Atlantic Records, so all our Taylor Gang artists [we should be keeping an eye out for],” Dzombak said. “Also we have a new R&B singer named Stan Sono that is on his way to the stars!”
One Penn State weekend changed everything for the Grammy-nominated producer. With his first star still thriving and his label continuing to draw top talent, Dzombak’s career only has room to grow.