DJ Khaled believes he was born to be an entertainer. Thats 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, hes not quick to follow suit with his own crews 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.
AllHipHop.com: I noticed that you only produced three songs on your album. Youve blessed other peoples 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 dont need to go out and try to take all the shine. Other producers bring different things to the record, and its my job to make a hit record. DJ Khaled produced three, and there are 17 songs on the album, so lets share the love.
AllHipHop.com: 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 [oclock] 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, were going to put Jadakiss on this song too. Then he said, Thats exactly what you should do; put Jadakiss on there.
AllHipHop.com: 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 theyre 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, Lets 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. Its very hard to get that guy on the mic, but I made it happen and thats why this album is so crazy.
AllHipHop.com: 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 dont know if that could ever be fixed. For me speaking as a Terror Squad member, theyre not even on our radar. Were making good music and were for the people. Were the streets. Terror Squad is created by the streets, for the streets, and were going to keep reppin the streets. Im not here to talk bad about anybody, but theyre not even our radar.
AllHipHop.com: The second single is going to be Born and Raised in the County of Dade, right? Arent you afraid that people outside of Miami wont gravitate towards the song?
DJ Khaled: Thats definitely one of the potential singles with Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, and Pitbull. Ill 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 Im going to have more than one single out there. I got a Young Jeezy record and Kanye West record thats going to be f**king huge.
AllHipHop.com: Other DJs 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. Its not like when youre dealing with the big companies and you have to find out whos 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]. Im a priority at Koch; other companies might have put me on the shelf. Im not dissing anybody, but Koch showed me a lot of love and were going to win! Im going to be the new logo for Koch and Im going to be the next Alan Grunblatt.
AllHipHop.com: 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 Im opening the door for more of them to come out, but its about being on the grind, you know? Its not where youre from or what nationality you are; its about doing what you do and your hard work will pay off.
AllHipHop.com: Is that something you might promote more in the future?
DJ Khaled: Im just going to promote peace.
AllHipHop.com: Rick Ross says you were the first DJ to play Hustlin on the radio. Whats it like to give him that chance and then see him get signed?
DJ Khaled: Its beautiful to see my brother come-up and see his dreams come true and get rich. For me to help his career, its a great feeling. Rick Ross is a loyal dude and he still reps for DJ Khaled. Hes part of the movement and Im part of that movement.
AllHipHop.com: What movement?
DJ Khaled: The Miami movement. Its an incredible, beautiful thing. We planned the whole thing out.
AllHipHop.com: 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 thats what were doing right now. Thats Miami.
AllHipHop.com: Youre originally from New Orleans, so what makes you rep Miami?
DJ Khaled: Ive been living in Miami for 15 years and its only right for me to rep my city. Miami reps me and I rep them back and I love Miami. Im going to rep them for the rest of my life.
AllHipHop.com: Have you been back to New Orleans since Katrina?
DJ Khaled: I havent 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 whats happened for myself.
AllHipHop.com: 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], its an automatic co-sign from me. I play whats hot regardless of who you are because that makes me hot. Status doesnt matter.
AllHipHop.com: What else is going on with you?
DJ Khaled: Cool & Dre, The Runners, and Fat Joe all work in Jerusalem [Khaleds private recording studio]. Im 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.
AllHipHop.com: Why didnt you start doing nationally-released mixtapes until This Aint a Movie, Dogg?
DJ Khaled: With my mixtapes, I put so much time and energy into them, so I just couldnt do them [more often]. I could have put something out there, but thats not how I wanted to do it. I do mixtapes when I can because I dont want to just put a bunch of them out there. Im starting to do a lot of mixtapes now with Lil Wayne and Birdman.
AllHipHop.com: 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 Aint 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.
AllHipHop.com: Whats 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 wasnt just people sending me tracks. Im involved in everything that went into this record. This is the best album in the world, AllHipHop! Coming out June 6th.