Can We All Agree that DJ Khaled is the Best Human Being in all of Hip-Hop? » VSB

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Can We All Agree that DJ Khaled is the Best Human Being in all of Hip-Hop?

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

 

It’s been established that I’m a Super Saiyan-level hater (h/t Panama), especially when it comes to contemporary mainstream hip-hop.

Let’s keep it a buck, though – there’s a lot to hate on in hip-hop right now: We have a XXL Freshman Issue with 10 rappers whose combined bars couldn’t get a cell signal from a rooftop in Manhattan. We have the presumed “queen” of hip-hop taking the Mother Superior of Ls in a battle by insisting that sales trump verses. I’d rather hear just about anyone else spit over the best beat of the year to date other than the dude who actually owns it. And we have young niggas literally (literally, literally) letting themselves be hurled into metal gates during concert performances. I could go on.

But if there’s one entity in the genre who should be completely impervious to critique or admonition, it’s Khaled Mohamed Khaled, otherwise known as DJ Khaled. It matters not if you’re young enough to think Lil’ Boat’s Teenage Emotions album is the Illmatic of our time or if you’re that dusty backpacker who can name the mixer of track 13 on Kool G Rap’s second album – if you love hip-hop, you should automatically love Khaled.

Though he’s been involved in the industry since the late 1990s, Khaled’s profile started rising near the end of the last decade when an ever-increasing number of mainstream rap stars started appearing on his compilation albums. Dude has an even deeper Rolodex than The Game; each of you reading this has had at least one member of your Top Five pop up on a Khaled track.

I didn’t really catch wind of Khaled until his 2012 album, Kiss the Ring. I mostly hated on him for that risible album cover (same with the cover of 2013’s Suffering from Success), but that album’s “Hip-Hop”, featuring Scarface and Nas, was one of my year’s favorite cuts.

A half-decade later, I have nothing bad to say about DJ Khaled. If any one grown man brings me a steady stream of joy, it’s him. If I wake up in the morning wanting to drown a bag of kittens because I have a crick in my neck from sleeping funny, I just think “WWKD?” and I’m once again a ray of fucking sunshine. All of this is probably why I’m very excited to jump into his new album, Grateful, in a way that I seldom am about any artist in 2017.

Here’s why DJ Khaled has our sorry asses only aspiring to his degree of awesomeness:

The Music: I’ll admit that Khaled’s oeuvre is loaded with filler from marginally talented artists that my stuck-in-the-90’s ass hates on as a matter of routine, which is why it took me a while to give his stuff a serious listen. But just about each of his 10 albums contains something, or someone, for us old heads. For example, “Don’t Ever Play Yourself” from his Major Key album evokes the New York posse cuts of yore like “Banned from TV” and “Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad.” Plus, Khaled has a borderline Rick Ross-esque ear for beats that even makes tracks with Ace Hood listenable.  

I realize that Khaled wouldn’t be KHALED if his whole album was full of Jadakiss and Scarface features (I’m pretty sure he owes Drake his next, unborn child for his successes). But dude is on the wrong side of 40, and I get the impression that he loves that real hip-hop shit in his nether regions. That he can, in one album, connect with the Jadens (and Braidens and Kaidens) of Menlo Park, Calif. as well as outer-borough New York niggas is a testament to his reach. Hell, he can even get away with doing what we wanted to murder DJ Clue for in the 1990s: yelling his name over every goddamn track.  

Social media wins: Not one rapper has as engaging a social media presence as DJ Khaled. His Instagram and Snapchat feeds are wildly popular because they’re updated extremely frequently and showcase him doing wildly disparate shit, from quotidian mundanity to hobnobbing with every manner of celebrity.  

When he got lost at sea on his jet ski at night in the end of 2015, Khaled Snapchatted the whole affair while maintaining an unrelenting optimism in the face of what would’ve had the jet ski rental company charging me extra for a soiled seat. Watching the whole Snapchat story, you don’t think, “Oh, I wish this stupid fat rich bastard would’ve made a whole shark family’s day.” You think, “Awe, I’m really glad Khaled made it out safe! Bless up!” You might’ve even thought, “Damn, I wish I was out there in the dark with Khaled. I would’ve brought Coronas and snacks!” He’s sort of the anti-Kanye West in this way.   

His physical appearance: Khaled’s portly figure – which includes a Tony-Soprano-in-season-6 belly that he has no compunction about displaying to the world – gives him that this-celebrity-is-all-of-us quality that someone like the newly-chiseled Drake lacks. And we all have an affinity for avuncular, rotund dudes who look like they’ll sneak us that extra slice of pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving that our parents don’t want us to have. 

His son: Ever since Asahd Khaled blessed the world with his arrival last October (captured on Snapchat, of course), little man has been a mainstay in his father’s world. Any rap dude can pull together matching outfits, executive producer credits and an album cover, but Asahd’s omnipresence in his dad’s social media feeds and as a topic in interviews indicates that Khaled is an active parent despite his hyper-busy schedule.

Chris Rock once said that a nigga shouldn’t be celebrated for taking care of his kids, but I’m not gonna front like hip-hop is a genre that routinely and openly celebrates hands-on fatherhood. I also won’t front: whatever the male equivalent to a biological clock is pops off in me from time to time and makes me really moved by seeing Khaled dote on his son – before I remember that actually I love my own money and come back down to Earth.

Straight positivity: Hip-hop, on a genetic level, thrives off of war, competition and general negativity. Though much of his music reflects that, Khaled himself possesses a totally bearable lightness of being that resonates in everything he does and says. He warns against the anonymous “They” but refuses to take sides in rap beef and always seems to stop short of attacking his known opponents. He keeps with the times – doing away with his original sobriquet “Arab Attack” following the September 11 attacks and no longer saying “nigga” like he did in his early records.

He’s always dropping inspirational (if sometimes trite) quotes and his reflection on his success doesn’t resemble the usual tired rodomontade we hear from most rappers, but often involves naked gratitude. If you hate Khaled, you probably also hate puppies, sunshine and Harold’s Chicken. And you should maybe check your pulse to see if you’re not the walking fucking undead. Is there a better way to kick off summer ’17 than being Grateful about some shit? Methinks not.

Dustin Seibert

Dustin J. Seibert lifts heavy weights and plays all his video games on hard mode to find peace. He has a better ear for hip-hop than anyone else you know. He writes like the English language is going outta style because the steaks in his freezer are dependent on it.

  • JustAng

    “Can we all agree that DJ Khaled is the best human being in all of Hip-Hop?”

    No, nope, nawl

    • Darkchloe144

      Also my initial reaction.

    • Queen@

      Come on… think about it. Khaled doesn’t “rap” anything. He went from hype man to THEE man. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him spit, but he is making major moves in hip-hop.

      • Kas

        Why aren’t you on vacation?

        • Queen@

          I leave in the morning. Can I not VSB and vacay? Y’all gon miss me for a whole two weeks.

      • JustAng

        Queen, are you here to prove that we can’t ALL agree? :)
        I don’t hate him but “best” anything in Hip Hop … Nah.

  • I like Khaled. I’m not a huge fan, but he’s a pretty hard dude to hate. He seems friendly, he’s very family oriented, and he has a great ear for beats. I like that dude.

    Sidebar, for all the backpackers in the building. Can we admit that Miami has a deeper roster in hip-hop than we’re willing to admit? Yes, this is the home base of cats like Pitbull and Flo Rida, but between Khaled, J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy and Luke in his prime, they can match up with any other city in hip-hop? No one really gives that scene respect.

    But Khaled is just an all around good dude. There’s a reason he keeps it going down there.

    • I can fall down a Miami hip-hop rabbit hole at any time. I can see why their strippers are the talk of legends.

      • SororSalsa

        I’ve never been to a house party where some Luke, 69 Boyz, etc. didn’t turn it out. Everyone but the overly self-conscious gets up when “I Wanna Rock” gets dropped.

        • The intro to ‘Me so Hr0ny” gets me super hype before the beat even drops. As soon as I hear “What do I get for 10 dollars?” It is ON.

    • As a southerner who is both a fan of East Coast rap and varying forms of southern rap I’ve always maintained that every rapper should shake Luke’s hand for fighting a fight for them to speak freely.

      • I blasted “Banned in the USA” earlier this week.

        • BrothasKeeper

          Move Something still knocks.

      • I definitely concur with that statement. He fought some major 1st Amendment battles for hip-hop.

      • cyanic

        Luke and Ron Hightower resemble each other. Though Luke has the bigger swipe easily without ever having seen it. But their brand of medium brown fit with crooked white teeth and a sinister force under their masked facial expression when they’re about to get themselves off–I feel like I’m not asking the gods for much just to have one of my own.

      • Funniest story ever… about the time Suge tried to bully Luke, and almost got erased. I heard them laughing about it one nighr on Sirius XM.

      • Asking_Questions

        DJ Khaled is a culture vulture and says ninja a little too much for my liking. For the life of me I can’t understand why folks were so eager to give him a BBQ invite and allow him to use the word so freely. So I always have my side eye on him.

        I missed the days when we used to check non-ninja for saying ninja. Like when JaRule allowedJennifer Lopez to say “I tell them ninjas mind they business but they don’t hear me though” on his I’m real track and we collectively told her to have a seat and that Eminem had gotten his invite to the BBQ well before her but he’s never fixed his mouth to say ninja (in public).

        I’ll listen to his music, because it’s catchy, but I can’t call him the BESSSSSS.

        Fight me. Ion care.

        • AquariusAf

          Fight us, cuz im right there with you. I’ve never been a Khaled fan for these same reasons. He’s always been a little too eager to use that word. I mean he says it way more than any of us in our music. Then he’s always hollering about doing it for the culture, when realistically none of his music actually stands the test of time. I don’t see the brilliance in bringing a bunch of popular artist together to make mediocre music over well produced tracks. He’s hip hop’s glorified middle man. Outside of that he doesn’t seem like a bad guy.

        • Love Heals

          I don’t know a whole lot about him because once I’d heard his vehement insistence that he CAN use the word, I decided against getting to how him. He comes from a group that routinely calls Black people “slave” (abid). Given his claims to “the culture” i.e., Black people’s culture, it would’ve been better for him to condemn this practice from his platform.Ditto French Montana. It should be seamless given that Arabs/People from the Maghreb in France have rushed to hip-hop as the genre which captures their struggles. JLo’s behavior reeks of the light, not-quite-White-Latino who feigns solidarity with us for the opportunities it affords them, only to climb over our spines to ascend the U.S. color/race hierarchy.

          • Kim

            Exactly!!! DJ Khaled, JLO, French Montana and co. are all in the same boat.

    • Queen@

      I would only correct you to say “Luke at ANY time.” I popped that cooche this morning in the gym.

      • *looks over slowly like a gym creeper*

        • Kas

          Uses mirror because I’m slick like that.

          • Sweet Potato Kai ?

            I stay using mirrors and door reflections to creep

            • Kas

              Don’t count out a slow walk to the water fountain. The classics never die.

              • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                You clearly are more skilled in this than I.

                • Kas

                  Over 30 years in the gym game you learn some things. Bonus for the water walk, it also gives others a chance to notice you. Peacocking is not just something I do but who I am.

                  • Emily Harris

                    Ladies and gentlemen, the real MVP

                  • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                    Prove it

                    • Kas
                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      Oh. Hello.

                    • Kas

                      Ma’am

                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      Just being neighborly

                    • Kas

                      Nothing wrong with being neighborly . . . usually

                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      Usually

                    • Kas

                      My great uncle had a kid by his neighbor. Wouldn’t have been so bad except she was white, and married to a white guy. No doubt the kid was mixed. It caused a bit of marital strife for the neighbors.

                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      But what does that have to do with this thing here?

                    • Kas

                      Providing an example that being neighborly is usually fine but not always. Mostly I just find the story hilarious.

                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      There are always exceptions, one offs and outliers. I just wanted you to peacock for me. Dassit.

                    • Kas

                      I took it as such. Just being my usual difficult self.

                    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                      I’m glad you recognize this

                    • Kas

                      I’m a Leo not delusional.

      • BrothasKeeper

        *pretends to wipe sweat at the weight bench but really looking out the corner of his eye* https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/269bf472d9a0c4d186d4fa35d0e83e9ae93dd9c7dbf84a1f26eb110650a763eb.jpg

      • * unsatisfied with bow in laces, reties shoe*

        • Sweet Potato Kai ?

          Sir!

          • Kas

            You don’t want him to trip over his shoelace do you?

            • Sweet Potato Kai ?

              (I kinda do)

          • I mean… it ain’t like you…
            Nevermind.

            • Sweet Potato Kai ?

              Man looky here and lissen!

    • Emmie

      Can’t forget to mention that Florida gave use THE BADDEST Bish, Ms. Katrina Laverne Taylor bka Trina!

      • Sweet Potato Kai ?

        Is her middle name really Laverne? Oh my.

      • I’ve actually seen that b00ty in person. GOODNESS GRACIOUS!!!!!1111

        • Emmie

          I can only imagine what a blessing that was

          • That was part of a very good day for me. *cues Isley Brothers sample*

    • Uncle Remus
  • Queen@

    If ya seen me comment enough, ya’ll know I love Khaled and the way he has embraced Miami (he is from N.O., so someone should be mad about that). I am so in LOVE with the way he is setting his son’s future up. Asahd has producer and writer credits ALL over Grateful. Boss move.

    • A Trump-like boss move.

      • Queen@

        More like a Bey-J boss move. Or even Trump’s dad (who brought one of his failing casinos for it to still fail). I doubt Trump listed his kids on those failed businesses. Who would he borrow money from?

  • I do enjoy DJ Khaled. He is just him. You have some cultures who try to overdose in “black culture” making them look super fake(Vanilla Ice anyone?) In theory, when they play hip hop and R&B and the music is right you will still be cool with the team! Not to mention how often have we just said “DJ KHALED!”. That normally makes the song. That is my favorite lyric in all his songs. My next would be “WE DA BEST!”. This guy is just a lyrical genius. Do just enough and you will win!

  • @Mr2Oh2 Voice of The City!

    Long live Beat Novocain!

  • Coco Fiere

    Like you, I got hip to Khaled late. I believe it was “I’m So Hood” that grabbed my attention and although I’m not a fan of many that he’s collaborated with (Meghan Trainor, Future, Beiber, Jeremih, etc.), I like him. Quite a few songs from his discography have earned permanent placement in my music library. He seems like a good dude and his gleeful spirit and blatant love for his son make me smile. I also love his awkwardness. I don’t mind him winning.

    SN: Shout out to that Harold’s Chicken reference. #ChitownAllDay

    • Dustin John Seibert

      Yo I want some Harold’s, like, right now. But I’m a north side Negro, so I can’t just go down the street to get some.

      Guess I’ll cook pancakes instead.

    • KeciB

      Maybe because I’m not originally from Chicago but I don’t get the Harold’s chicken love. It’s okay chicken.

      • OMG I thought I was the only one.

        I.JUST.DONT.GET.IT.

        • KeciB

          Nope. I don’t get it at all. Maybe as a southern girl, I’ve had too much good friend chicken to heap praise on mediocre fried chicken.

      • KMN

        @kecib:disqus @disqus_cLK2jZO1QK:disqus
        We had a Harold’s in Milwaukee…I waited for it to die down…and was mad at the hype…like people stood in line for THIS (same with chik fila it tastes like KFC from 20 years ago to me…good but not waitingin like 2 hours great).
        I agree…gimme a bottle of hot sauce, flour, salt, pepper, and other seasonings and i’ll bury both of them in that kitchen lmao

        • KeciB

          Chik-fil-a is okay but yeah neither one lives up to the hype. Although I also think the Chik-fil-as in the south are better. I’d put my fried chicken up against both of them, any place, anytime.

          • KMN

            Daggone near anything in the south is better lmao….

            • KeciB

              This is true.

        • HouseOfBonnets

          They out here setting all y’all up smh let me FedEx y’all a 1/4 dark with mild sauce ????

          • KMN

            ROFL Lawud

          • StillSuga

            Harold’s doesn’t have the best chicken in Chicago (hey Kenny’s, Kings Three, Uncle Remus), but they dang sure have the best mild sauce! #MildSauceOverEverything

            • HouseOfBonnets

              Harold’s is in top five….. As for uncle remus I’ve been here for 20 something years ain’t tried them yet lol

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Soooooooooooooo did you go to one in an airport or the loop? Because they’ll set you up lol

        • KeciB

          I’ve never been to the one in the loop or the airport or the food truck. My first experience was on the Southside and I’ve had in on the Northside, both were disappointing.

  • MsCee

    “We have a XXL Freshman Issue with 10 rappers whose combined bars couldn’t get a cell signal from a rooftop in Manhattan….” I legit flat fxcking lined. This is Friday shade level #goals.

    • Rosalynjmckinney


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  • listening to the album in the office…this aint too bad

  • AnotherBlackGirl

    Khaled is ugly, but I do like him. His baby is adorable. Khaled is not the best human being in all of hip hop.

  • Ess da 5’6″

    Khaled is good for some workout hits, too. (I don’t know if there’s irony in that, though.) “All I Do Is Win” has had a spot on my playlist for damn near 10 years now.

    • MsCee

      Shining
      For Free
      etc…
      DJ Khaled will have you going in at the gym

      • Ess da 5’6″

        Yup! Those are on my playlist, too. “Shining” has got a nice rhythm for jumping rope. “For Free” is a nice squat song lol.

    • siante

      tons of irony in that lol

    • Queen@

      If you really want Miami you have to get https://open.spotify.com/album/39tyUxBMirJf8l3DxMzMUh in your mix.

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