DJ Khaled: Global Grind

When you hear the ever animated DJ Khaled bellow out his signature catchphrase “We the best!” on his various hit records, you’re not hearing an empty catchphrase, but the slogan by which the man exemplifies his career. Since 2006, Khaled has ridden the wave of his albums (Listennn…The Album, We The Best) and their various all-star posse-cut compilations (“Holla at Me,” “I’m So Hood,” “Out Here Grindin”) from the DJ booth to fledgling boardroom executive. Now just a few short weeks away from the release of his third LP, We Global, Khaled explains the methods behind his planned worldwide takeover.AllHipHop.com Your new album We Global is scheduled to drop September 16. What direction were you looking to take on this album from your previous efforts?Khaled: The direction was just to go harder and bigger out here with these records. “Out Here Grindin’” is another huge street anthem. I got the whole hood representing it. I’m collaborating with the biggest hood stars and street artists in the game all on one record. I’ve got Ricky Ross, Plies, Boosie, Akon, Ace Hood, and Trick Daddy. This is just straight out the projects! That’s what I rep.And the new single “Go Hard” features T-Pain and Kanye West. And that [one], I can retire after that! I got Game on the record, [and] Nas. I got everyone! So basically the direction is to go harderDJ Khaled f/ Akon, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Lil Boosie, Plies, Ace Hood, and Trick Daddy  “Out Here Grindin'” VideoAllHipHop.com: You’ve been with Koch Records releasing major albums since about 2006. What’s the biggest benefit of working with them as opposed to smaller or bigger labels?Khaled: With Koch they’re hungry and see my vision. And there’s no hate, when I want to do something they say, “Let’s go.” They work hard and are very hands on. And my work with them helped me get a huge label deal with Def Jam.AllHipHop.com: Of course Def Jam is a name that’s synonymous with Hip-Hop, but many artists there have expressed discontent with the way their projects were handled. What made you feel comfortable partnering We the Best Music with them?Khaled: First of all I’m a fan of Def Jam and its artists. I grew up listening to Run-DMC [Ed. Note: Run-DMC was on Profile, though managed by Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons] and LL Cool J. Now you have Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Rick Ross. There’s so many artists that they’ve done well with, so to be under that umbrella is just a beautiful thing for my brand. LA Reid, I look up to him as a boss and somebody in the game that loves the music and the work. Signing my first artist Ace Hood was a true dream come true for me.AllHipHop.com: How did you hook up with Ace Hood and how has the creative process for his album been going?Khaled: We hooked up in Miami. He brought his music to the station while I was late on my way to work in the parking lot. I seen him and he looked like a star. So when I got his CD I told him and I’ll call him later after I’d listened to it. So after work I jumped in that Phantom and started bumping his music and I heard the hunger in his voice. So I called him and said, “Yo, I’m going to send you ‘I’m So Hood,’ let’s see you rap over it.” And he ripped it down.DJ Khaled f/ T-Pain, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross & Plies “I’m So Hood” VideoAllHipHop.com: Now a lot of up and coming artists would love to work with you as well. For everyone out there, what would be the top three things from an aspiring artist that would catch your eye and make you want to sign them?Khaled: The style or swag, the presence when they walk in a room, and their hunger and work ethic.AllHipHop.com: Right now you have a winning formula with the posse cuts. So far, they’ve pretty much been your lane exclusively for the last couple albums. As an artist do you subscribe to maintaining the formula as long as it works, or taking risks with your art?Khaled: My formula is my team. You’re always going to hear me do records with Ross, Ace Hood, Trick Daddy, Fat Joe, Akon, T-Pain, and Jeezy simply because I’m a fan of them and so are you. We make great music. But you’re also going to hear me do different things like “Go Hard” with T-Pain and Kanye.I believe in making hit records. And when I’m in the studio I’m on it and I feel these guys have to be on it. And by the way, everyone loves the same guys [artists] I like (laughs)…as artists, no homo.Go Hard (Feat. Kanye West & T-Pain) – DJ KhaledAllHipHop.com: A lot of people were thrown off by the collaboration you have with Nas on the album (“I’m On”). I know you’ve known him for a couple years through Fat Joe. Talk a little bit about how that project came about.Khaled: I called and told him I wanted to do a “Hate Me Now” but a little different. It was just time for us to do something. We always wanted to work together throughout the years. Somehow the record got leaked and it really pissed me off because I wanted it to be a surprise. It’s a big record. Nas is spitting that fire; talking about drinking champagne out of a beer can. He’s going in. It’s Nas! He’s a legend.AllHipHop.com: When you’re in the studio with all these different artists, do you have to offer a lot of direction or does everything just flow when the beats come on?Khaled: I always come to them with the concept, beat, and chorus. And when I’m in the studio I bring a certain energy and get the best out of all the artists. They’ll tell you themselves I’m passionate about my music. I’m On – NasAllHipHop.com: Under your Beat Novacaine producer name you also have a lot of production credits. Every producer has their own habits and patterns, so is there anything in particular that you do when coming up with the arrangements and rhythms for your music?Khaled: When I make my own beats they be real cinematic and theatrical…and hard. [But] when I get with other producers like The Runners or Danja I always give them passion and they deliver it to another level. So it really depends on what direction I want to go in at that time.AllHipHop.com: Being that you’re a cornerstone of the Terror Squad, can we expect another album from you guys?Khaled: Joe’s working on a Terror Squad album now. You know, we make hits!AllHipHop.com: A lot has been made recently about the status the DJ has now in Hip-Hop. Some people say the DJ is dead while others say that’s ridiculous and the DJ has more power now then they’ve ever had. As someone who’s made their name as a DJ, what’s your opinion on that?Khaled: Everyone has an opinion but the DJ is definitely not dead, and I’m living proof of that. The DJ is involved in a lot of different situations. A DJ can become an executive, promoter, program director, A&R, or producer. DJs are in the heart of the music.AllHipHop.com: As a producer and DJ you’re really close to the music and can feel trends are they’re developing. Where do you see the culture going lyrically, production-wise, and business-wise?Khaled: Business-wise it’ll go even more independent because major labels want artists to be CEOs and do all the work. They piggyback off it and then put the steroids in you once you’re hot. Lyrics will always be there. That’s why only certain people can be legends. Production-wise it’ll get crazier because sounds are changing every month and there’s crazy talented producers out there. I love Drumma Boy, The Runners, Danja, Infamous, and J-Roc.AllHipHop.com: Let’s have you weigh in on the ringtone vs. album debate. You’re an artist that sells well on both fronts. Do you feel the importance of ringtone sales have diminished the viability of albums, or do you think LPs are still relevant in today’s market?Khaled: You got to remember if you have a big ringtone record you got a hit record and you’re a hit artist. Are you a one hit wonder? It depends on that one artist. For me I make big ringtone records and record sales. The sales come when people buy into you and want to be a part of your career. A real fan is going to buy your record and support you.AllHipHop.com: There’s been a huge backlash against artists whose personas don’t coincide with their backgrounds. Is this because fans themselves are getting too caught up in the images, or because artists aren’t making a clear distinction between their entertainment personas and their real lives?Khaled: The problem with the fans is that there’s not enough time for artist development. Record companies aren’t doing it because they don’t want to spend the money. That’s why as an artist you have to be the CEO and go hard and not get mad at the record company but work with the new system. And the new system is “get yourself hot.” Go out there and grind and make them want to help you. The name of the game is to be relevant. If you have a hot record and you’re out there doing shows, going on TV, you’re relevant so that means you can make another record. There’s plenty of artists that can’t sell a lot of records but are millionaires because they do shows every single day and have a huge fanbase. Why they didn’t sell records it’ll be a mystery but the next one might hit. It’s just the game…it’s a recession.AllHipHop.com: Watching you perform it’s obvious you really enjoy being an artist. Now that you’re moving into the business side do you ever see yourself retiring from music like other artists have done, or do you see it always being a part of you?Khaled: I can’t say that now but I definitely know I’ll be going more into the business side because that’s what I do. I am the brand and now I can spread it to Ace Hood and my other team members.

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