If there is one person who knows how to consistently reinvite themselves it has got to be legendary DJ, record producer, label executive, and Snapchat influencer DJ Khaled. In a career that spans nearly 20 years, Khaled Mohamed Khaled has released nine studio albums and has collaborated with everyone from Lil Wayne to Justin Bieber. It’s safe to say that DJ Khaled truly has the keys to success and that’s all due to his insane work ethic.
Khaled’s empire started with his first job at the infamous Odyssey record store in New Orleans. It was at Odyssey in 1993 that he met the likes Birdman and Lil Wayne and began working with artists to help them build up their sound and craft radio hits. After leaving Odyssey Khaled began radio DJ’ing and held a number of reputable gigs including his co-hosting position Luke Campbell of the 2LiveCrew’s The Luke Show on WEDR. By 2003 he was hosting his own weekend radio show for WEDR and cultivating relationships with long-time collaborators Marcello Valenzano and Andre Lyon, also known as production duo Cool & Dre.
In 2006 Khaled had put in enough work and paid up his dues to earn the spotlight for his first official project, his debut titled Listennn: The Album, which hit the top 20 of Billboard’s rap chart. Now more than 11 years later, Khaled has managed to live up to his hype and continue producing commercially successful even through a number of record label deals. He has continuously put out music and has become known as the unifying buffer of sorts between superstar rap acts and mainstream mega bangers, in addition to being known for his larger-than-life persona.
Now, just as we are on the heels of DJ Khaled’s 10th studio album Grateful, we take a look back at his incredibly rich career to pick the 10 most essential DJ Khaled tracks.
The first and probably most important track on this list is from DJ Khaled’s debut album Listennn: The Album. Featuring damn near every heavy hitter from late 90’s and early 2000’s era rap “Holla At Me” put Khaled on the map and serves as the earliest reference point of his supernatural ability to assemble superstar talents and produce an extremely dope and extremely successful record. This track is also one of the first times that Khaled worked with his long-time collaborators and friends, production duo Cool & Dre, in addition to one of his first records with Lil Wayne and Birdman for YMCMB.
This record was everything back in the day and really shows Khaled’s roots. From Terror Squad to YMCMB, Khaled has always kept it real with the ones he came up with and “Holla At Me” is evidence of to prove that fact to be true.
“Brown Paper Bag” Ft. Dre, Fat Joe, Juelz Santana, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross & Young Jeezy
This record is definitely deserving of an endless standing ovation. The incredibly simple hook sung by Andre Lyon, half of the production duo Cool & Dre on “Brown Paper Bag” is only part of the reason the track is so legendary.This star-studded line-up did not disappoint and features rappers like Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross on the cusp of their flourishing careers. This track appeared on DJ Khaled’s 2007 album for Terror Squad titled We The Best and lived alongside hit records like “We Taking Over” and “I’m So Hood.”
This track appeared on DJ Khaled’s 2007 album We The Best for Terror Squad titled and lived alongside hit records like “S On My Chest” and “I’m So Hood.”
“We Takin’ Over” Ft. Akon, Birdman, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, T.I. & Rick Ross
Another colossal record from DJ Khaled’s 2007 We The Best album is the anthem “We Takin’ Over.” Once again Khaled and cast kill it and the DJ and producer set the streets on fire with this one.
peep the epic visual for this one.
“Go Hard” Ft. Kanye West & T-Pain
By 2008, DJ Khaled was experiencing growing pains and was nearing the end of his time with his major label Koch Records. Just before his exit, he released his album We Global, and that’s where this gem comes from. “Go Hard” was one of the first times that DJ Khaled and Kanye West had hooked up. On top of that, this record is one of the few tracks that Kanye West and T-Pain hopped on together so, in a sense, this is a piece of music history, and very essential.
“I’m On One” Feat Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne
By 2011 DJ Khaled had left his Koch Records and was entering his short stint with YMCMB. While Khaled had frequently collaborated with Birdman and Lil Wayne in the past, it was a completely different thing to be a part of the label, and accordingly, Khaled pulled together a show-stopping album to commemorate his new found home.
“I’m On One” was wildly popular and was one of the biggest records of 2011 having reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Rap Songs chart for 13 consecutive weeks.
“No New Friends” Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne
Here goes another record from the incomparable trio. “No New Friends” lives on DJ Khaled’s 2013 Suffering From Successful album and is a highlight moment for the project along with tracks like “I feel Like Pac / I feel Like Biggie.” and “Black Ball.”
“No Motive” Ft. Lil Wayne
There is definitely no shortage of Lil Wayne on this list, there actually is probably too much Weezy on this list, but it’s because Wayne and Khaled go together like Cerveza’s and Taco’s on Tuesday’s. It’s very important to note the relationship Khaled has with Lil Wayne for the purpose of understanding why DJ Khaled is who he is. In layman’s terms, since the beginning of his career, DJ Khaled’s relationships and ability to champion artists, new and old, has been the bane of his existence.
From his time as a radio DJ in Miami when Cool & Dre gave up some of their air time to give Khaled a shot to shine all the way to his humble beginnings at the Odyssey record shop in New Orleans where he met Lil Wayne and Birdman, Khaled has grinded nonstop all while continuously remaining loyal to those who he came up with.
“Take It To The Head” Ft. Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne
While it seemed almost impossible, in 2012 DJ Khaled once again stepped his game up and released his studio album, Kiss The Ring. Khaled really pulled out all the stops with this album and flooded the streets with ridiculously Fuego bangers including the Ace Hood’s “Piss ‘Em Off” and the Kanye West and Rick Ross-assisted record “I Wish You Would.”
“Take It To The Head” is a hybrid epic that tips the RnB scales as much as it weighs in the Hip Hop category. Additionally, another one of DJ Khaled’s frequent collaborators Chris Brown took the song to the next level with his hook and with the added help of Rozay and Nicki, this legendary posse cut is 100 percent essential.
“For Free” Ft. Drake
2016 was a year of exponential growth for DJ Khaled. His grandiose persona had diffused into the internet and he built one of the largest social media followings from his theatrical Snapchat stories detailing the keys to success. Khaled also inked a management deal with Jay Z and released his ninth studio album Major Key. The project features everyone from Nas and J. Cole to Kodak Black and none other than the hit-maker himself, Drake.
It’s only right that we plug “For Free” into this list because it is an essential piece of the Major Key album and an equally important to have in any playlist curated with DJ Khaled in mind.
While the last track for this list isn’t directly a DJ Khaled track, it’s essential and important to this list because it helps to describe the complex genius that is DJ Khaled. Over the years we have seen Khaled assemble super team after super team of rappers and artists to hope on tracks and create the next summer banger again and again and again. However, if there is one thing that he does almost as good as producing these records, it is his ability to identify and elevate little know artists into superstar level acts.
Take for instance Khaled’s work with Ace Hood, or Kent Jones, the singer behind “Don’t Mind” a record that has received a platinum plaque and peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard hot 100. While it may seem that Khaled is just a hypeman, anything but that reality is the case with this record as Khaled is listed as a composer, producer, and writer for this track. Even more so, this track is significant because it reveals Khaled’s sensational ability to adapt to the market and identify trends as the come go and help to give artists the platform they so desperately need.
“I’m The One” Feat Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne
Ane we leave you with one last ultra jam to finish off the list. While it may seem to mainstream or even too early to call this record a classic, it is significant to Khaled’s discography and proves that this dude is king of crafting the celebrity stacked bangers he is known for. In a way, Khaled has created an entire career and lane for himself that was truly never done before. Even more so, this record symbolized DJ Khaled’s immortality and proves that he will be around for a while if he continues to capture the attention of the masses single after single, album after album.
Salute to DJ Khaled because he is, in fact, the one, because really, what would we be without music from We The Best?