Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN check one of their most anticipated guests off their checklist: DJ Khaled. Hailing from Miami, Florida — by way of New Orleans — the world-renowned DJ, producer, and social media sensation comes through the studio in COVID-19 appropriate attire to share his history in the game. Beginning his career on pirate radio, the gregarious master of the wheels caught his big break during his tenure at 99 JAMZ, where he carved out a lane as Miami’s hottest DJ.
Making the leap to the mainstream through his affiliation with Fat Joe and Terror Squad, Khaled found his niche brokering collabs with the biggest stars in rap, releasing multiple studio albums on Koch Records (now E1 Entertainment) while building his brand as a boardsman. After a period of uncertainty during the early aughts, Khaled reinvented himself through social media and becoming one of the go-to hitmakers in the industry. Having climbed the mountaintop and looked adversity in the face, Khaled has come up on the other side with an inspirational story that has helped him become one of the more empowering figures in the culture.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the DJ Khaled episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. On Miami Being His Hometown
Since first popping up on the national radar during the early aughts, Khaled has repped Miami to the fullest. However, the casual fan may be unaware that the superstar was actually born in the bayou, but he claims the Sunshine State as the place where he fully formed his identity as a creative. “I was born in New Orleans, but I was raised in Florida,” he explains. “While I was living in Florida, I went back to New Orleans again because my finances wasn’t right. I had to get back on my feet, and my mother and father lived in Florida at one time, but everything got taken away from them, basically. S**t got real and it was happening when I was like 15. And God blessed me and let me see the blessings, and he let me see how quickly it could be taken away at a young age. So, when you see a lot of me and a lot of my talk, that’s just my experiences of real life.”
2. On Once Being An Aspiring Producer
While Khaled is known for his prowess behind the 1’s and 2’s, he’s also one of the more underrated beatsmiths in the game with a resume that rivals many bigger names in the production realm. “I started deejaying at an early age, I would say probably about 13 or 14 in Orlando and then I came to Miami,” he said. “Started deejaying early and as soon as I started deejaying, I immediately got into production. So, back in those days, I was called the Beat Novacane. So, it was DJ Khaled/Beat Novacane and nobody knew me. This is me just living my dream.”
3. On His Relationships With Rick Ross and L.A. Reid
With nearly two decades at the forefront of the game, DJ Khaled has crossed paths with a number of movers and shakers in music, but two he credits with helping assist him in his overall growth. “I was president of Def Jam South,” he shared. “My office was in Miami and L.A. Reid put me in position…I was blessed with all of this energy and responsibility at the same time I was shaping up my career. So, each key leads to the next key ‘cause the keys never run out. So, to be able to make and sit in the studio with Rick Ross, and watch him cut these classic albums and records, and to be an A&R on the credit — even executive produce one of ‘em with him — I wanna thank Ross for believing in me. And I wanna thank L.A. Reid for believing in me and giving me that opportunity because they can never take that away from me cause these sh**s are classics! And Ross jumped on every single record I ever asked him to jump on. He’s on every single album I ever put out. That’s just one of my great relationships.”
4. On His Relationship With Drake
Throughout the years, one of the key collaborators Khaled has created an innate chemistry with is Drake, who he’s teamed up with for hits like “I’m On One” and “For Free.” “He loved me so much that he blesses me,” Khaled said of the rapper. “When you work with Drake — anybody that works with Drake — nine [times] out of ten, Drake is going to say, ‘Here’s the record.’ And let me tell you, when you work with Drake, that’s what you want. Listen, I am not only a DJ, a producer. I am an A&R. I am a music exec. A real music man never ever denies f**king hits. You don’t ever do that. That’s what a real exec, music man is.”
5. On Meeting Beyonce
While solidified as a major player in the rap industry, Khaled’s standing in the game went to the next level when he secured two guest spots from two of the biggest stars in all of music. “I’m already ready to mix the record,” Khaled said of “Top Off,” his 2018 collaboration with JAY-Z and Beyonce. “I remember, I was in the back of a phantom with the f**king stars on it, and just chilling. It was, like, a nighttime in L.A. and he’s like, ‘Yo, text me, come to the crib,’ I come to the crib, it’s f**king Beyonce there, so I’m like, ‘Oh s**t.’ They play me the record and it’s Beyonce’s on there. I’m losing my mind. I’m already happy, I’m already grateful. I’m good, I got Hov. Beyonce’s on there now. When Beyonce’s in the room, I’m, like, in the corner. I get nervous. I just wanna say hi and I wanna leave because I’m like, she’s got so much… that’s Beyonce.”
6. On His Plans For We The Best Music
DJ Khaled made “We The Best” more than just an inspirational catchphrase. He’s launched a label that has produced multiple platinum-selling artists, but still has yet to reach its apex. “We’re gonna sign up some more artists,” he shared. “And there’s a lot of things I’m doing this year that I’m probably gonna announce in 2021 about just the brand, as far as the label side. We’re bringing some more people onboard. We ain’t got nobody international right now, but we’re looking for greatness. You can never really know something’s gonna come to your table ‘til it comes ‘cause music is a feeling. It’s a vibe.”
7. On Being Grateful
DJ Khaled is viewed as one of the more successful artists in hip hop. But, he’s had his fair share of lumps in terms of bad contracts and bad business dealings. However, he looks at those experiences as learning lessons.”The reason I’m bringing up all these deals is even if you had a bad deal, be grateful,” he said. “‘Cause I was grateful for every single deal I ever got because it’s a learning experience to get a better one. And after you get a better one, you learn more, you learn more. Me, I’m a grateful guy, nobody ever did me wrong. Nobody… Early in my career, my first deal might’ve been $20,000. But, look at me now. I’m a CEO, I’m DJ Khaled. I got eleven albums out, I’m working on my twelfth album. I have a brand called We The Best. I own my masters. Look at me, obviously, I’m grateful.”
8. On Exceeding Expectations
DJ Khaled has become a beacon of motivation for the go-getter in us all, but even he’s faced adversity. “They told me I couldn’t have a radio show. I had the number one radio show for over, like, thirteen [or] fourteen years,” he explained. “The difference is, for me, I can speak for Khaled… I didn’t let no one put me in a box. I knew I was gonna be an artist, I knew I was gonna be a great DJ, I knew I was gonna be a producer, I knew I was gonna be an A&R, I knew I was gonna be a music exec. I knew I was gonna be a father, I knew I was gonna be [doing] everything I’m doing now and I have a lot more still to do. I knew and I had a lot of people tell me, ‘You will do none of this s**t and you should only do one thing and that’s it.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m not doing that. I’m doing everything I wanna do and I’m gonna do it big.’”
9. On His Dream Collaboration
DJ Khaled has been responsible for some of the more epic collaborative efforts of the new millennium. However, when asked of who he has yet to collaborate with that would leave him satisfied as a creative, he listed two legends he hasn’t worked with, as well as one he’s previously made magic with. “I’ve never worked with Andre 3000. I’m his friend, we’ve talked several times. He cleared my sample for my last album. I wanna work with Andre… I wanna work with Rihanna again. It’s something I really, really wanna do for a lot of reasons. I’m a fan, I love her. She shows me so much love. We made such a big record together. We made such a big record together and when you’ve got that great chemistry, why not give ‘em another one? …I wanna do something with Dr. Dre, I always told Dre. Me and Dre have talked several times and he told me, ‘When you’re ready, come check me.’ So, I wanna make sure when I come to him, I come with something we can collaborate [on] that would make history. Yeah, I think those are great names.”