DJ Khaled: Going Extra Hard

In life, it’s been said that hard work will guarantee success. Whether it’s winning consecutive golf championships like Tiger Woods or becoming the hottest rapper out today by consistently feeding fans with music via mixtapes, collaborations and studio albums (i.e. Lil Wayne), the positives far outweigh the negatives. For DJ Khaled, hard work comes automatic […]

In life, it’s been said that hard work will guarantee success. Whether it’s winning consecutive golf championships like Tiger Woods or becoming the hottest rapper out today by consistently feeding fans with music via mixtapes, collaborations and studio albums (i.e. Lil Wayne), the positives far outweigh the negatives.

For DJ Khaled, hard work comes automatic when proclaiming “We the Best.” And with his hand in various endeavors, the WEDR radio personality is making sure he lives up to the title. Mixtape DJ and producer are but two descriptions for the man who has three hit albums under his belt, forged alliances with some of rap’s most popular and talented artists and transitioned from artist to music label executive.

DJ Khaled recently took a break from working in the studio to chat with about balancing his musical pursuits with being president of Def Jam South, plans for his next album and whether the DJ is an endangered species in today’s hip-hop climate. First things first. Congratulations on being president of Def Jam South. With everything you’re doing now (DJ, being on the radio, making and producing music.), how much of a challenge is It to juggle all of this and your duties as president of Def Jam South?

DJ Khaled: It’s a great challenge. I wear many hats and to be number one you got to go hard and do what people are not doing. It’s a vision I’ve had when I started the game. Coming up from being a DJ to having the number one night show in Florida to being also a manager of two of the biggest producers in the game —The Runners and the Inkredibles — to being an executive of my own label, We the Best, that’s on Def Jam. And also, to be head of Def Jam South, to see the vision I’ve always had. And I always had a vision to be on Def Jam too. God is good. And it just something that’s been destined, that’s been written.

And the challenge is great. That’s what’s so great about this music business. There’s always a challenge. It’s just great to accomplish the challenge and move on to the next challenge So if I’m reading you correctly, it’s kind of a welcome challenge in terms of being able to balance all this?

DJ Khaled: They all compliment each other and that’s what’s so great about what I do. I got the ear for the radio and I got the ear for the streets and I got the executive skills, the marketing skills. So yeah, it’s like a challenge. It’s great for the challenge because I feel like I’m one of the only ones that’s doing this type of grind right now, you know what i’m sayin.

I’m giving 100 percent to all of it. This is Khaled, man. It’s in my music. I express it in my music that we make. “Goin’ hard,” “Out Here Grindin’.” “We Takin’ Over.” “Overtime.” I’m putting in that overtime, you feel me? As president of Def Jam South, are you worried about the impact of the digital revolution as it pertains to moving units for artists under your label? Nowadays you find everybody downloading stuff and just using digital means of obtaining their music whereas back in the day it used to be going to the store.

DJ Khaled: I ain’t worried. I’m the type of person goes with it. You got to change with the game and you got to move with the times. Everybody knows that sales ain’t what they used to be and the digital is takin’ over and stuff like that. So you got to just conquer what’s happening now. All that it’s doing right now is that you gotta put out great singles. And sometimes singles will sell more than albums. And sometimes you have singles that sell just as well as well as albums. Either way you get an opportunity to sell the music.

And it’s just a different way of selling it. And by time moving on, I think we’re going to find a way to make it better and better.

Even though the music biz is hurting sales wise, I just feel like it’s gonna be a time where it’s gonna get better because we’re gonna get better and find out how to make it better. So it just all abut going back to the challenge, to see where the game is at. The best is gonna find a way to conquer it, you feel me? So it’s nothing you that can’t handle when you’re provided with the right tools?

DJ Khaled: Def Jam and We the Best is the number one record company in the world. Def Jam is the number one record company in the world period. So we gonna do what we do. Switching gears, with the beef between 50 Cent and Rick Ross showing no signs of slowing down, in your opinion do you see an actual end to this or will it continue to get more and more personal as time goes on?

DJ Khaled: Honestly, I don’t be into all that beef stuff and negative stuff. And the thing is that I see that Ross is my brother. I see he has the number one album in the country and I see that he has a classic album and we make great music. That’s what I see. Everything else I don’t see, you know.what I’m sayin.

I see us always goin’ hard and Ross will continue making great music and moving forward. I don’t be seeing that other stuff. You’ve got three albums under your belt as well as a string of hit singles. Are there any plans to go back into the studio to do a follow up to We Global?

DJ Khaled: Yeah, I’m actually in the studio now. Right now, I’m putting out Ace Hood’s new album called Ruthless. Coming out summertime, July, you know what i’m sayin. Ace Hood’s new album about to drop. It’s crazy. The first single featuring Akon and T-Pain called “Overtime.” And as soon as I drop that album, I’m back in the studio. I’m gonna work on my album.

My new album is gonna be called Victory. It’s gonna be called Victory and it’s somethin’ special. I promise you. What direction musically will this project go into? Will it be in a different direction than the previous efforts or will it be more a continuation of what we’ve been getting?

DJ Khaled: Nah. It’s gonna be something new, refreshing, different. But one thing that ain’t gonna change is me reppin’ the people. My albums is always reppin’ the people. So you’re gonna hear that music, it’s always talking about the people. So that part ain’t gonna change, me reppin’ the people. That’s what I do.

But the thing that I plan to pull off with my album is on some ‘How’d he do that?’ Quote yourself as saying ‘Am I really hearing this?’ Saying to yourself ‘Wow. I can’t believe this is being done in an amazing way.

Like I’m about to make the most incredible music that’s ever been made. I’m on some … Right now I got this vibe going. I’m in a zone, man. I’m about a zone, man. This album is called Victory. I made y’all Listennn on my first album. I let the world know We the Best on the second album. And We the Best got so big that we turned into being global. So I let you know We Global. And now the new album is called Victory. It’s time to celebrate the wins. They say I’m bringing the love back in the game so it’s time to celebrate the wins. And we gonna do it big. As far as people appearing on the album, are there any artists confirmed to appear at this point or are we a little bit too early with that right now?

DJ Khaled: You can put this in big letters, BE READY. It’s no secret that you’ve worked with a virtual who’s who of heavyweights in the rap world. Whether it be Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Fat Joe. Is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with that you would love to work with?

DJ Khaled: I would love to work with Rihanna, Beyonce, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige. There is a few people out there I haven’t worked with that I want to work with. And it goes back to that last question…be ready.

Victory is gonna be a big event, man. It’s gonna be serious. I’ve shown you on all my other albums. I make some real albums. I make some serious albums. I pull off a lot of things. I want y’all to stay tuned for the We the Best/Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam collaboration with Beans and Jadakiss. Album coming soon. So you definitely plan on doing an album or at least few songs with those artists?

DJ Khaled: We gonna make history my brotha. We gonna work with everybody. We gonna make history. Any idea when we’ll be able to hear the fruits of that collaboration with the Roc-a-Fella artists?

DJ Khaled: We in talks right now, man. We in the talks…me and Lenny S, we in talks right now. It’s gonna come together. We gonna executive produce it. It’s gonna be big. Producers like Timbaland, who have opted to produce music for artists outside the world of rap. As someone who always seems to look ahead, have you considered expanding your musical boundaries to include work with artists outside the rap arena?

DJ Khaled: I mean I work with everybody, man, you know what i’m sayin. Everybody. I work with all genres of music. I work with everybody. I guess we’ll have to stay tuned and see. I think it would be interesting to see you hook up with a few of these artists in these other musical genres to see what it would sound like. We’ll have to keep our eyes out open for that.

DJ Khaled: Absolutely, my brotha With the way things are today in rap, it seems like the DJ is not as prevalent as he once was. You have mixtapes starting to lose their impact as digital downloading begins to take over and they segue into mainstream circles. Rappers are even commanding more of the spotlight, overshadowing the right hand of the DJ on the 1s and 2s. With the exception of the occasional party and events and production behind the boards, in your opinion, has the DJ become somewhat of an endangered species in the current Hip-Hop landscape?

DJ Khaled: Never. Never. DJs is always relevant, always gonna be relevant and always be very important to Hip-Hop. It’s just… who plays the music, man. You can make music all day in the studio and make number one records but they gotta be played. And guess who plays them? The DJs. We the best. I definitely understand that. It just seems that back in the day, you knew the rapper and you also knew the DJ. Nowadays…

DJ Khaled: It’s all on the DJ too. It’s all on the DJ and how you sell yourself. There’s all types of DJs. There’s DJs that just are not into the limelight. There’s DJs/artists like myself. There’s DJs that are producers, such as myself. There’s all different types of DJs man. It’s all different types of people. It’s what you make out of it, you know what i’m sayin. It’s what you do with it. So it’s really just a matter of seizing the moment, seizing the opportunity and capitalizing on it?

DJ Khaled: In every situation. Absolutely. It’s about going hard. What’s next for DJ Khaled? What can the fans and public expect from you in the days and months to come?

DJ Khaled: Expect good music, great music and expect more greatness, more wins, more cigars, more victories. We here man. We the best. Anything specific that the fans can look forward to? I know you mentioned the Victory album. Any idea when that may hit the stores?

DJ Khaled:

I don’t have a date on it. I’m in the studio working now so I’m in the creative process. But look out for it, Victory coming soon.