One of Khaled's first gigs was working in a New Orleans record store called Odyssey Records. In 1993, he happened to be present on a day when Baby and Slim, founders of Cash Money Records, hosted an autograph session and were introduced to a 10-year-old Dwayne Carter Jr., who freestyled for them. Read more about the encounter in Ben Westhoff's Southern rap history book, "Dirty South."
10 Things You Didn't Know About DJ Khaled
He used to be in Terror Squad
Khaled joined the Big Pun and Fat Joe-helmed group a few years after the former had already passed away, part of a new wave of members that also included production greats Cool & Dre. Khaled took on the name "Terror Squadian" (a regrettable choice), and though he appears not to have been involved with any of the group's actual releases, his debut album arrived in 2006 under a "Terror Squad Presents" heading. Here's a video of him repping the squad back in the day.
He used to DJ under the name "Arab Attack"
Khaled went through a number of monikers before settling on his birth name. In addition to the aforementioned "Terror Squadian," he also went by Big Dog Pitbull, The Don Dada, and Mr. Miami at various points throughout his career, but his onetime stage name Arab Attack is certainly the most noteworthy. He began calling himself this in the late '90s, but did away with it after 9/11. In a 2008 interview, he explained why.
"I dropped it because, after the whole 9/11 thing, you know I’m not one of those ignorant people. I’m a positive person. "Arab Attack" was mainly used for music, like we attack you with music, but when 9/11 happened, I said, you know what, I’m not gonna use that name no more. It wasn’t respectful to the people that went through some stuff."
He was actually a producer at one point
Yet another of Khaled's past rap names was Beat Novacane, and believe it or not, he actually used to make beats (not just shout over them). His production career was short-lived, but during it, he made tracks for Fabolous, as well as his Terror Squad homie Fat Joe. Listen to two of them below.
His favorite song is Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing"
About two years ago, Khaled proposed to Nicki Minaj out of the blue, later claiming that it was a joke. Shortly thereafter, he sat down for an interview with Shaheem Reid and fielded some questions about his choice of music at a fictitious candlelit dinner with Minaj (below). "Would you play Bobby Brown’s ‘Tenderoni’ or Bobby Brown’s ‘Rock Wit’cha?”, asked Reid. Khaled responded, “I’ll play ‘Sexual Healing’ by Marvin Gaye…” He later confirmed that this was his favorite song of all-time. Let's get a new version complete with ad-libs over the top.
He used to host a radio show with 2 Live Crew's Uncle Luke
Khaled got his first major break in the industry via Luther Campbell, AKA Uncle Luke of Miami rap group 2 Live Crew, who asked him to co-host his radio program, "The Luke Show," in 1998. Having heard Khaled on one of the city's pirate radio programs, Luke became a fan of his larger than life persona and invited him onto the show, despite the fact that the station's staff didn't quite "get" him. Here's what he told VIBE in a 2012 story on Khaled:
“They didn’t understand him at first—he was foreign territory for them. He wasn’t a conventional DJ. They didn’t understand the energy. I would be egging him on like, ‘You ain’t the best DJ.’ And he’d be like, ‘Yes, I am! I’m the best in the world! Who’s better than me?!’ That was basically me creating a theme about him, making him into the DJ that he is today."
While DJing in Jamaica, he befriended Bob Marley's family
Khaled's pirate radio exploits in Miami, which involved mixing a lot of dancehall with hip hop, made him a household name in Jamaica, where he eventually travelled to get some DJ gigs and meet local talent. Before we signed the island's Mavado, though, he fell in with the Marleys, who even let him DJ events they were hosting. Quoth Khaled:
“[The Marleys] let me DJ their events and welcomed me into their home. To be a friend and see that whole Marley family culture, not [from] the outside, but actually seeing it, that was special to me.”
He beat Wyclef Jean in a "sound clash" DJ battle in Jamaica
Khaled's presence in Jamaica was huge for someone of Middle Eastern descent, as he was able to get exclusive freestyles (known as "dub plates" there) from the biggest artists in the country. He began competing in "sound clashes," which were akin to the sound system DJ battles held by hip hop pioneers in the South Bronx, and became a force to reckon with at Fully Loaded, the largest such event in 2000. He competed against Wyclef Jean, who had much more of a background in Caribbean culture, but ended up with the crowd in his favor. "From that day, I was officially broken on the streets,” said Khaled.
He once claimed that his new single crashed iTunes' servers
Despite all of Khaled's musical accomplishments, he's still become best-known for his exaggerated boasts. One of his finest came in the promo period for Suffering From Success' "I Wanna Be With You," when he posted a picture of himself on the the phone on Instagram and claims that the number of downloads on the song was responsible for crashing iTunes' normal servers, and would require "the most powerful servers to handle this."
This was hilarious for a number of reasons. A) the single wasn't downloaded nearly as much as its predecessor, "No New Friends"; B) he claims to be talking to "the CEO of iTunes," a position that doesn't exist; and C) there's no way iTunes has a backup reserve of more powerful servers that only get used in the event of an emergency. Read the tall tale below.
I'm on the phone wit the CEO of ITunes he's telling me khaled #iwannabewithu only been on iTunes for 1hour and u selling like crazy my staff is telling me the servers is about shut down I gave them the ok to add the most powerful servers to handle this #iwannabewithu congrats looks like more plaks for U khaled #sufferingfromsuccess #wtb
He's responsible for one of the best behind-the-scenes bloopers in music video history
Maybe you've already seen this, but we had to include it:
A3C Highlights: Travi$ Scott, DeJ Loaf, Wiz Khalifa & More
Take a trip down to Atlanta for our recap of A3C's festival & conference.
10 facts from DJ Khaled's past that may surprise you.
Another year, another DJ Khaled album with an almost unbelievably stacked tracklist. With I Changed A Lot set to drop in ten days, we've been treated to some of the khlassic Khaled exploits we know and love this week, not only in the form of twin singles featuring Future, Trey Songz, Fetty Wap, Chris Brown, August Alsina and Jeremih, but also more of the inspirational/aspirational/motivational videos the Miami mainstay is known for.
Contrary to the new album's title, this is the Khaled we've known since "We Takin' Over" became a huge hit in 2007: the outsized personality, the songs that are heavy on star power but light on substance, and the perhaps unintentionally hilarious antics. But the truth is, 39-year-old born Khaled bin Abdul Khaled has lived a crazy life that's taken him from the bottom to where he is now. He may get clowned for "not really being a producer," or his ridiculous ad-libs, but he's seen it all in ways that few people in the industry have. With his DJing career kicking off in the early '90s, there are tons of facts and stories about Khaled that are unknown to the general public. These ten are the best, as is only right for Khaled.