DJ Khaled: Dade in Full

DJ Khaled believes he was born to be an entertainer. That’s understandable, considering that the 30-year-old New Orleans native has spent more than half of his life DJing. Even his birth name, Khaled Khaled, makes it seem like his life was never intended to be ordinary. For the past 15 years, that predestined entertainer has […]

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DJ Khaled believes he was born to be an entertainer. That’s understandable, considering that the 30-year-old New Orleans native has spent more than half of his life DJing. Even his birth name, Khaled Khaled, makes it seem like his life was never intended to be ordinary. For the past 15 years, that predestined entertainer has found his goal commanding South Florida Hip-Hop fans to follow Khaled’s signature phrase and “listennn.”

The Miami-based DJ is now using that same enthusiastic self-promotion for Listennn…The Album, his debut on Koch Records. The Terror Squad DJ flexed his rolodex muscle and called on some of the top names in Hip-Hop to lend vocals and production. While Khaled can forever claim to have brought Beanie and ‘Kiss full circle, he’s not quick to follow suit with his own crew’s G-Unit issues. This kind of attention may draw attraction to the project, but will that be enough? DJ compilations are traditionally dismissed by critics and consumers. However, the self-proclaimed “new logo of Koch Records” is out to spin that notion right around. I noticed that you only produced three songs on your album. You’ve blessed other people’s albums with beats in the past, so why have only three on your own album?

DJ Khaled: Because me producing the whole album is not what I wanted to do. I produced three songs and got other producers so I can have a different sound. I want to win. I don’t need to go out and try to take all the shine. Other producers bring different things to the record, and it’s my job to make a hit record. DJ Khaled produced three, and there are 17 songs on the album, so let’s share the love. You have some interesting pairings on the album like Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss. They once had beef, so how did you manage to get them on “Problem” together?

DJ Khaled: Well I had seen Beanie Sigel and recorded that song at like seven [o’clock] in the morning. I waited in the studio and played the beat, turned the mic on, and he laid the verse. Then I just said, “Yo, we’re going to put Jadakiss on this song too.” Then he said, “That’s exactly what you should do; put Jadakiss on there.” Did it surprise you at all that he said that?

DJ Khaled: Nah, I asked him because I wanted to do it. I wanted to put Jadakiss and Beanie Sigel on a record together. I think they’re two incredible rappers and they should do more collaborating. I think they should do an album together. That would be crazy. Beanie Sigel was all for it when I told him I wanted to put him on the song, so I called Jadakiss and told him I wanted to put him on a song with Beanie Sigel and he said, “Let’s go.” Obviously, those brothers have been wanting to work together and I provided that service. Not anybody can pull that off, so I want everybody to understand that. Not anybody can just say they want to put Jadakiss and Beanie Sigel together on a song. First of all, you have to even get Jadakiss on the phone and find him. It’s very hard to get that guy on the mic, but I made it happen and that’s why this album is so crazy. Terror Squad and G-Unit have had words in the past, as well. Could the two camps squash their beef and have a similar peace?

DJ Khaled: I mean, the Terror Squad and G-Unit stuff, I don’t know if that could ever be fixed. For me speaking as a Terror Squad member, they’re not even on our radar. We’re making good music and we’re for the people. We’re the streets. Terror Squad is created by the streets, for the streets, and we’re going to keep reppin’ the streets. I’m not here to talk bad about anybody, but they’re not even our radar. The second single is going to be “Born and Raised in the County of Dade,” right? Aren’t you afraid that people outside of Miami won’t gravitate towards the song?

DJ Khaled: That’s definitely one of the potential singles with Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, and Pitbull. I’ll have a chance to rep my city and rep it to a higher level. I think people outside of Miami will [enjoy the song] because they did it for Houston and they did it for [Atlanta]. But I’m going to have more than one single out there. I got a Young Jeezy record and Kanye West record that’s going to be f**king huge. Other DJ’s like Drama, Envy, or Kay Slay have deals on major labels, so does it feel weird for you to go with Koch?

DJ Khaled: Not at all. I went to Koch because I like dealing with the underdogs. The people at Koch are family to me, and they all work. It’s not like when you’re dealing with the big companies and you have to find out who’s doing what. I can actually walk into to the office at Koch and talk to the president, Alan Grunblatt, to get what I need [on the spot]. I’m a priority at Koch; other companies might have put me on the shelf. I’m not dissing anybody, but Koch showed me a lot of love and we’re going to win! I’m going to be the new logo for Koch and I’m going to be the next Alan Grunblatt. You’ve always been very vocal about your pride in your Palestinian heritage. Why do you think so few Arab-Americans are in visible positions in Hip-Hop?

DJ Khaled: I mean, I hope that I’m opening the door for more of them to come out, but it’s about being on the grind, you know? It’s not where you’re from or what nationality you are; it’s about doing what you do and your hard work will pay off. Is that something you might promote more in the future?

DJ Khaled: I’m just going to promote peace. Rick Ross says you were the first DJ to play “Hustlin’” on the radio. What’s it like to give him that chance and then see him get signed?

DJ Khaled: It’s beautiful to see my brother come-up and see his dreams come true and get rich. For me to help his career, it’s a great feeling. Rick Ross is a loyal dude and he still reps for DJ Khaled. He’s part of the movement and I’m part of that movement. What movement?

DJ Khaled: The Miami movement. It’s an incredible, beautiful thing. We planned the whole thing out. On a recent episode of The Takeover, you said, “Miami is the sound, now. Out-of-towners are coming here to get the vibe from us.” What makes you say that?

DJ Khaled: Because I know that for a fact. Everybody records in Miami, everybody parties in Miami, and everybody gets their beats from Miami. We provide a vibe. When you go to New York, they provide a certain vibe for the music and that’s what we’re doing right now. That’s Miami. You’re originally from New Orleans, so what makes you rep Miami?

DJ Khaled: I’ve been living in Miami for 15 years and it’s only right for me to rep my city. Miami reps me and I rep them back and I love Miami. I’m going to rep them for the rest of my life. Have you been back to New Orleans since Katrina?

DJ Khaled: I haven’t been back. I would love to go out there soon because I still got some family out in New Orleans, so I want to go check on them when I can and see what’s happened for myself. Hopefully they are alright. Going back to what Rick Ross said, I also heard you recently play a song from an unsigned artist fresh out of jail. Why give a shot to an unknown like that?

DJ Khaled: People find out where I am and come see me because they know when I [play a record], it’s an automatic co-sign from me. I play what’s hot regardless of who you are because that makes me hot. Status doesn’t matter. What else is going on with you?

DJ Khaled: Cool & Dre, The Runners, and Fat Joe all work in Jerusalem [Khaled’s private recording studio]. I’m producing on new albums for Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Rick Ross, and Dre from Cool & Dre. After that, I plan on going into some executive things and work with a few artists, one in particular being Brisco. Why didn’t you start doing nationally-released mixtapes until “This Ain’t a Movie, Dogg”?

DJ Khaled: With my mixtapes, I put so much time and energy into them, so I just couldn’t do them [more often]. I could have put something out there, but that’s not how I wanted to do it. I do mixtapes when I can because I don’t want to just put a bunch of them out there. I’m starting to do a lot of mixtapes now with Lil’ Wayne and Birdman. “This Ain’t a Movie, Dogg” got noticed for having Scott Storch and Timbaland rework some of their beats in a live studio session. What made you do that?

DJ Khaled: Scott Storch and Timbaland are my friends, so that was just us having fun. I feel like the mixtape game can get a lot more creative. On “This Ain’t a Movie, Dogg,” I had to switch it up and do something different. I had to make everybody in the mixtape game step it up. What’s the difference between making those mixtapes and making Listennn… the Album?

DJ Khaled: These are whole songs with thought-out concepts. This is the real deal. I was involved in the whole process. This wasn’t just people sending me tracks. I’m involved in everything that went into this record. This is the best album in the world, AllHipHop! Coming out June 6th.