We all know DJ Khaled as the living meme he has become today. Through his prolific posting on Snapchat, his involvement in several chart-topping pop singles and his unparalleled chauvinism, DJ Khaled has cemented his place in hip-hop culture. Now, what if I told you that not only is he not a DJ, but he isn’t a producer either? While Khaled often receives production credits for his involvement, his name always appears alongside other producers. This begs the question, who is DJ Khaled? Where did he come from? How did he get the celebrity endorsements that accelerated his career into overdrive? And most importantly, what does he actually do these days?
DJ Khaled was born and raised in New Orleans, to a musical family. During his teen years, Khaled worked at a record store, where he was fortunate enough to be present at Lil Wayne’s first meeting with Birdman. He then spent a few years as an actual DJ, performing in sound-clashes. These sound-clashes are intense performances where DJs compete for the best sound system and control of the crowd. It was here that Khaled refined his skills as a hype man. It’s easy to forget that the “DJ” moniker was in fact earned – not a title he just slapped in front of his name.
Khaled moved to Miami in 1998 to co-host a program on WEDR “99 Jamz” and was given a show after a few years. It was during his near ten-year stint as a Miami radio DJ that he made the connections he needed to take his career to the next level. Between then and his record debut in 2006, Khaled befriended Akon, Rick Ross, and Pitbull to name a few. In addition, he became an official member of terror squad and began producing beats for Fat Joe and his label mates.
DJ Khaled Actually Djing…..Whaaaat?
After spending about a decade sowing seeds, Khaled launched his debut album, which featured verses from several heavy hitters, most notably Kanye West, Fat Joe, and Jadakiss. This started a routine of Khaled creating rap albums where he doesn’t rap at all. Over the next few records, Khaled would also stop producing; instead recruiting the hottest young producers to provide beats for his tracks. So how are these even his albums? The simple answer is that Khaled is a catalyst. He is the creative driving force behind the music, despite not being an active feature. Khaled gets the people he thinks are the best or most creative in a room and lets them do their thing. In many ways, Khaled functions as more of an executive producer. He oversees the grand vision rather than diving into the nitty-gritty of the instrumentals or the lyrics.
The next and final stage of Khaled’s career was his explosion onto the mainstream. Khaled dropped a few music videos getting traction based on Khaled’s over the top bravado.
DJ Khaled Brings In the Numbers
In particular, the “Hold You Down” video got reviewed by H3H3 productions, receiving over 3 million views. The video itself, on the other hand, received 256 million views to date. In addition, Khaled’s Snapchat became legendary. When he documented being lost at sea on the platform; it was a boon not only to Khaled’s brand but also to Snapchat itself; showing the power of the platform’s stories feature. The story was picked up by several major news outlets; and gave Khaled the exposure he needed to realize his true potential as a prodigal living meme.
These days, Khaled seems to spend the majority of his time touring around the U.S. promoting various brands he’s associated with. Or, he is at home with his son Asaad. Khaled’s policy of never taking Ls coupled with his wholly defiant belief that he is God’s gift to music has played a role in the way many artists have approached their own music. The collaborations he has orchestrated has been a boon to many artist’s careers. His most recent single “I’m the One” is currently sitting at over 950 million views on Youtube. Khaled’s unabashed positivity has blessed the internet with a slew of hilarious catchphrases, propelling him to celebrity status. With all of these accolades, Dj Khaled has earned his status as a top-tier producer and cemented his place in hip-hop culture.