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Taking the road less traveled can often result in greener pastures, which is a statement DJ Khaled can attest to. Initially becoming a familiar face by way of appearances alongside Fat Joe and Terror Squad, Khaled parlayed his relationships into a record deal with Entertainment One Music (E1), releasing Listennn… the Album in 2006. Since then, DJ Khaled has put out 10 additional studio albums and become one of the most recognizable faces in hip hop, and entertainment as a whole. In a career that spans more than 20 years, Khaled has presented himself in various incarnations; from DJ to producer to viral sensation, he has also shown up as one of rap’s ultimate hit-makers and power brokers. REVOLT highlights seven facts about DJ Khaled that will blow your mind and give insight to the man behind the music.
1. His History with Cash Money Records
Before his primetime as a DJ in Miami, DJ Khaled got his feet wet in music while working at a popular record store in New Orleans called Odyssey. Working as a clerk and setting up shop inside the store with his turntables, the upstart made many of his first connections within the industry; two of them being the co-founders of Cash Money Records, Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams. According to Khaled, he witnessed history in Oddysey when the Williams brothers were first introduced to Lil Wayne. The rapper impressed the two brothers with his impromptu freestyle that the pair decided to take the youngster under their wing, years later he is to become amongst the top rappers in the game.
2. He’s an Accomplished Producer
On the surface, DJ Khaled’s actual role in the creation of his hits may appear ambiguous. But those familiar with the depths of the maestro’s history are well-aware of his value as a creative and curator. During his rise, Khaled earned credits as a producer under the name Beat Novacane, providing beats for artists like Fat Joe, Terror Squad, Rick Ross, Fabolous, Ludacris and more A-List talents.
3. His Affinity for Jamaica
DJ Khaled’s roots can be traced back to Miami and New Orleans but he wears his affinity to Jamaica and its culture on his sleeve. During a 2019 interview, the mogul showed reverence for the island, proclaiming himself as an “honorary Jamaican.” “Kingston, I really come from that,” he explained. “When I was 13 years old, I was going to Kingston. When I was 16 to 17, I got [really] big in Miami, but I also got really big in Kingston. I would be in Miami doing my radio show on Friday, then fly back to Jamaica. I was sound clashing every [track].” His love affair with Jamaica has manifested itself through an array of collaborations throughout his career that include dancehall and reggae artists.
4. He Once Served Jail Time
A beacon of peace and positivity, it may surprise many that DJ Khaled was once incarcerated for a short stint in the early 90’s, for driving with a suspended license. Although Khaled only served one month of a three-month jail sentence, the incident helped give him the motivation to focus on pursuing his career as a DJ. “I’m not a criminal… but it opened my eyes,” he recalled in a 2015 interview. “The day I got out, I went straight to Miami, [it was just] me and my records, because I felt like I would keep getting in trouble…”
5. His Biggest Musical Influences
When listing his musical influences and those who have inspired him, two of the most pivotal titans in the history of American music; Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones, often come up. Khaled frequently compares his role in the makings of his most popular songs to Gordy and Jones’ industrious skills as conductors and curators, and by the sounds of his work, it’s clear that Khaled has drawn from those two legend’s playbooks.
6. He’s A Best-Selling Author
Known for doling out major keys to success and prosperity, the hit-maker parlayed his hubris into a deal with Crown Publishing Group to write a book titled, The Keys in 2016. This self-help book served as a motivational to awaken the winner in all of us. Upon its release, The Keys made The New York Times Best Sellers list, adding yet another notch under Khaled’s belt of accomplishments.
7. He’s Close Friends with Buju Banton
DJ Khaled is seen by many as a source of inspiration, but when the Miami native needs counsel of his own, he confides in Buju Banton; the iconic dancehall and reggae musician. In a 2019 interview, Khaled revealed that in the moments leading up to the birth of his son, Asahd, he sought out guidance from Banton, who supported the producer with advice and words of encouragement. “I knew my life was going to change. I’m in the sprinter van and I’m trying to figure out life in five minutes. I called Buju Banton. I said, ‘My queen is about to have my biggest blessing. I need to talk to you.’ We prayed on the phone. He hit me with a talk. I had tears in my eyes.”
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