DJ Khaled in the 305 – 2008

DJ KHALED – Representin’ Love in the 305

by Melissa Gonzalez

January 2008 – Potential video starlets/groupies roam around in barely-there outfits. The aroma of cheap weed lingers and mixes with that of wet concrete on the cracked Overtown sidewalk. Aside from the shimmering of gold chains and dubs, there is much dreariness in the ‘hood.’ This inner-city neighborhood, one of Miami’s many hoods, is not about flashiness, it is about getting by. For many, it is the reality Miami very often lacks when considering the surgically attained beauty and rampant riches that are prevalent in the ‘305.’

Miami-based DJ KHALED

Almost three hours after arriving on the set, and close to 12 hours into the video shoot for “I’m So Hood,” a single from his second album We The Best, I notice Miami’s DJ Khaled rushing through a wardrobe change.

You would think the New Orleans-born DJ would have the ego of a platinum-selling rapper or the crankiness of a tired baby. Instead, he smiles and motions that it’s time to get the interview done. DJs and rappers stream in and out of his on-set trailer and all are greeted like family members not seen in years.

Hip-Hop site sohh.com provided the following recent info on the Miami performer. DJ Khaled is getting ready to drop his next album this summer on Terror Squad/Koch Records. His last album, We the Best, debuted at #8 on the Hip-Hop charts, partially in part to the success of “We Takin Over,” which featured T.I., Akon, Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Lil’ Wayne, and Birdman, and “I’m So Hood,” with T-Pain, Miami’s Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, and Plies. The album, released in June 2007, has sold more than 350,000 copies. A substantial increase over this 2006 debut, Listennn…The Album, which sold more than 200,000 copies and featured the hit “Holla at Me” with Paul Wall. Recently, DJ Khaled secured a deal with Def Jam/Universal to release his We The Best productions, which will include rapper Ace.

Contrary to the diamond-and-money-flashing persona that comes through on his music, and especially in his videos, in person, Khaled comes off as a grounded person. The foundation of this mind-set was explained weeks later when the interview was completed. It’s all a matter of being positive for the popular Miami personality. Every morning, he claims, is started by “giving thanks to the Most High.” In spite of the success DJ Khaled has been blessed with, what he’s most thankful for isn’t the money received or the notoriety gained. “I give thanks for life,” he declares. “Life is a blessing.”

MG: After a statement like that I have to ask, are you a spiritual person?

Khaled: I’m definitely spiritual in my own way. I got my own vibe. I’m just positive.

MG: So, is this spirituality you have based on a set religion?

Khaled: I am Muslim. I wouldn’t call it a religion, it’s a way of life. I’m definitely a Muslim, you know, but it doesn’t matter what religion you’re in, we all believe in the same God. It’s not a matter of religion for me it’s a matter of staying positive. I keep myself around positive people. I stay focused and any negative comes my way, I just keep it moving. We all gotta deal with all kinds of negative energy, but at the end of the day, me personally I’m about love.

MG: What would you say to those who feel the music you carry on your albums is not the most positive?

Khaled: That’s their opinion. Everybody can voice their opinion. Like I said, I know what I represent, I represent love.

MG: Why do you think spirituality isn’t a big thing in the Hip-Hop community? Many people believe that Hip-Hop is mainly about negativity, what’s your feeling on that?

Khaled: I can’t speak for other people. But I don’t really feel like there’s so much negativity in Hip-Hop. The negative that is there, you can see it. It’s up to you to avoid it.

In conclusion, we can label and categorize Hip-Hop for days. We may do it so much we fail to see the entire product. Because listeners may hear DJ Khaled on 99 JAMZ [WEDR-99.1 fm], and focus on his DJ or Terror Squad labels, they may fail to see him in his entirety. Not see the entrepreneur following the Muslim way of life, a lifestyle increasingly more evident in today’s Hip-Hop community.

It can very well be that it is the over-emphasis on labeling and categorizing that is slowly “killing” Hip-Hop, as some “golden age” fans claim. Alternatively, is it that those who are able to see the complete picture are the ones with the correct prognosis? For a man who is seemingly branded with various labels, it’s easy for him to see the long-term reality of the situation.

“Hip-Hop is too alive,” DJ Khaled ends reassuringly. “It’s so alive, it won’t stop. It grows everyday.”

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