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DJ Khaled: Reaching Elite Status

“We The Best!” Upon hearing these three words laid over a track it is evident who the DJ is. Making himself a brand through that slogan, DJ Khaled is joining the elite ranks of DJs such as Funkmaster Flex,  Clue, and Drama by creating albums drenched with hot artists from all regions of the country.  

Without spitting one line, his debut album, We The Best has charted three number one singles and undoubtedly put Miami on the map as a unified front and its own entity of The South.

Born Khaled Khaled,  this Palestinian New Orleans  native comes off as a real person with big, yet attainable aspirations in this game. He knows that he is just in the opening credits of his career and he is taking the necessary strides to get to that next scene and make what he likes to call ‘A Movie’ (his term for a big hit record).   

Remaining upstanding and humble he prides his career on the establishment of trustworthy relationships with the artists he works with. Khaled also lives by the notion of ‘Real Recognize Real.’ But how real can get he get? Especially when he is confronted with his use of the N-Word with all the controversy that it brings with the usage of it by people who are not Black. 

AllHipHop.com had the opportunity to talk to Khaled. He let us know why he thinks it’s okay for him to say the N-Word, why Miami is the s**t, and his tendency to go in the studio and pretend to be his favorite rappers!  

AllHipHop.com: Wassup Khaled!? To start things off how did you get your break into becoming DJ turned producer? How was your start different from that of other DJs?

Khaled: My DJ career made me got into my producing career. When you’re a DJ you just know your music. I always tell DJs to take different avenues [in order] to get your career started. Also, I just don’t make beats. I produce, I put albums together, I put songs together. Right now I’m working with some of the biggest producers in the game called The Runners. 

AllHipHop.com: The Runners are everywhere right now! Where do you see them going?

Khaled: I see them hurting the whole game. They produced “Go Getter” by Jeezy, Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’,” Lil Wayne’s ”Money On My Mind,” Keyshia Cole and Jeezy’s joint “Dreamin’.” Right now they’re working with Making the Band with Diddy, and they’re also working on my new album. 

AllHipHop.com: “We The Best!” Is this your calling card?

Khaled: Definitely, DJ Khaled is a brand. My energy is real different than anybody else. I can go in a club and wake the whole thing up. You in the club and think it’s poppin, I come in and make it New Years (laughs). That’s just the type of person I am.  

AllHipHop.com: How are you going to develop your brand?

Khaled: I’m taking my career in different levels. I’m launching my new label We The Best Music in ‘08. I got an artist named Ace, look out for him. Also, I’m back in the studio working on my album. I’m getting into new things, clothing line, liquor.  

AllHipHop.com: How instrumental were your established relationships with Hip-Hop artists in shaping your career?

Khaled: My relationship with artists began before their career popped off or they saw my career begin. Some of them I met along the way of all of our successes, we’ve grown together. When you meet me I’m a real dude and real recognize real. They know I’m going to deliver great music and hit records. They know that I’m gonna go out there and work it. I’m going to be promotion for their product as well as my own. 

AllHipHop.com: “I’m So Hood” is like the street anthem! Did you know that it was going to take off the way that it did?

Khaled: When I made the album, I knew that “We Taking Over” was going to be a “Big Event” record, shock the world and show unity. I knew that “Im So Hood” was going to be big in the streets and cross over to different levels like TRL and 106 & Park. I’ve been so blessed and the work paid off. It’s a hood anthem forever! Its not going anywhere! 

AllHipHop: I think I just may believe you! Your songs have a large variety of artist features. How to you come up with who is going to be featured each track?

Khaled: First, I get the beats then I go in the studio and mimic every rapper that I want on there. Like, I go in the studio and start rapping like Lil Wayne and say to myself “He would kill this!” Or I get a track where you wouldn’t think a specific rapper would get on. I present it to them and tell them to trust me with it. Sometimes I just take that chance. I be in the zone, I’ll write on a scrap paper and put it in my 2 way. I just take each track as a goal and accomplishment. 

AllHipHop.com : Since DJs are the gatekeepers of the Hip-Hop, do you think that being a DJ gets you in more with artists because they want you to play their records?

Khaled: It’s always good to show love for one other. I believe in helping each other. At the same time my relationship with artists are different from other DJs. These [artists] are my brothers. I really have a relationship with them. Besides just playing a record. I hang out with them, I talk to them on the regular. They saw my grind. We help each other, the word WE! 

AHH: What would you suggest to other DJs?

Khaled: Man, you gotta get the hood hot and the streets hot. If you get the hood on fire you good. Lets say you got a gig in Atlanta, you have to get the club so hot that the next day they talking about you. You gotta do the same in any city that you go to. Any chance you get to make a move you have to let these ni**as know that you here. Give them a reason to remember your name and the way you look 

AllHipHop.com: Hmm…Another thing I wanted to touch on…you’re Palestinian correct?

Khaled: Yeah 

AllHipHop.com: You say the N-word quite a bit, you’re not Black, do you get heat from doing so?

Khaled: I never had a problem with it. Anybody who thinks that I would use that word in a negative way is ignorant. I been called “Sand N***a” all my life. I would never use that word in a negative way. The people that feel like that are hating. They are trying to find a way to pull a brother down!! 

AllHipHop.com: How has your Palestinian community responded to you and your success?

Khaled:Every time I meet another Arab they come up to me and they’re so happy! They tell me that they just love me and what I’m doing. I can imagine the support over in the Middle East. I’m about that love and its just….love!

AllHipHop.com: Coming from Miami and being there before it was “The Place to Be” do you remember the time when Miami wasn’t  really on the map like that, as far as Hip-Hop is concerned?

Khaled: I moved to Miami 15 years ago from New Orleans. The minute I got there I loved it. I knew that I had to make a presence where I was ‘The Voice of Miami.’ I knew that I wanted to be that person running the airwaves and running the clubs. I’ve worked with Luke to Trick Daddy, I put all the artists together to show unity. When I came I just changed it and brought that element. I knew it was going to be big it was just a matter of time. I’m out there in every city repping Dade County!

AllHipHop.com: Can you tell the Miami influence when artists come down to record in Miami studios?

Khaled: Definitely. We have a certain level of confidence and plus, Miami got love for everybody. If you got love for us we f**k with you. We ain’t into all that disrespectful stuff. We just wanna make good music and represent our city.  

AllHipHop.com: Speaking of the love, you have a track record of being a peacemaker amongst rappers. Like you brought Beanie and Jadakiss together on “Problem.” How do you get artists who have problems with each other to come through for you?

Khaled: I approached Jada and Beans with it and they both were like “Absolutely!” Only certain people would have been able to approach them with a situation like that. With that particular situation they were both my friends and they’re great rappers. I think they should make an album together, it would be classic!  It goes back to the respect issue and they knew I was going to do the right thing with it. 

AllHipHop.com: You have been able to get a slew of artists on your projects, most without fees involved. Do you think that you would have had all of the creative abilities if you weren’t Koch?

Khaled: Everybody benefits off a DJ Khaled album. Now that I did it without the majors it lets people know! Everybody has a story. Jay-Z has a story, Diddy has a story, and now DJ Khaled has a story. I’m going to be the next LA Reid. Everybody has this type of success story. I’m in the story line we’re about to take it the finish line. When people blow up you don’t look at that story anymore. I’m the guy that AllHipHop.com can pull out an old story about, you feel me? 

AllHipHop.com: (Laughs)You’re signed to Koch, which is an independent label. What do you think people should know about indie labels? What are the advantages? Disadvantages?

Khaled: I like being indie is great because its hands on you don’t have to go thru 100 people to get something approved. They have a great team [at Koch] and we just work real good together. We broke a lot of barriers this year. 

AllHipHop.com: No Drawbacks?

Khaled: No, I don’t have any drawbacks because the majors are now taking the indie’s style. The difference between major and indie is that [the majors] usually can take your success to a higher level. With my experience in the indie nobody would have thought I could pull off [all that I did] this year. “I’m So Hood” was a top 10 record and the #1 ringtone. “We Taking Over” was big, number one on all the countdowns. I’ve sold more records than almost every rapper that came out this year, aside from the Kanye Wests, Jay-Zs and 50 Cents. You can go and investigate. I sold more records than every new artists that had number 1 records. 

AllHipHop.com: Except for Soulja Boy!

Khaled: And I’m still selling! 

AllHipHop.com: What can we expect with your next album? What is going to be different with this project?

Khaled: I’m going to keep making bigger records. I’m going to reach out to people that I didn’t get to work with on We Taking Over. I’m gonna continue to work with my team. We you hear me say “We Taking Over” I mean that. It’s a group effort. Its all about making great music. I’m not an industry person I judge my music by what they rock in the streets. I care about hot concepts, hot beats and something to relate to. 

AllHipHop.com : Have you ever considered working with pop artists?

Khaled: I want to work with Michael Jackson, I gotta find out a way to get to him! If you can get him this message tell him that I’m looking for him! Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, I got ideas for [all of] them already.

AllHipHop.com: On that note, what are you plans for the holidays?

Khaled: I’m doing shows for Christmas and New Years. I’m also going to the Bahamas and doing a big show and get that island love. When I get crazy, crazy rich I’m going out there and building a house! 

AllHipHop.com : Sounds sweet! No Miami?

Khaled: I usually come in on New Years Eve and chill out. I don’t like to work. I like to chill, pray and get ready for that next day. I been getting a lot of offers to work but I don’t know 

AllHipHop.com: What should we look out for from DJ Khaled?Khaled: My label, We The Best Music. I’m back in the studio working on my album which is due out in early ‘08. I’m working with Ludacris, Rick Ross, and on my brother [Fat] Joe’s album coming out March 11th.

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