Khaled Mohamed Khaled, or, more popularly known as DJ Khaled, exploded onto the Hip-Hop scene in the early 2000s by performing DJ sets and linking up with New Orleans legends Birdman and Lil Wayne in the 90s. Since then, Khaled has gone on to release 9 albums over a ten year career; working with some of todays most demanded featured artists as well as biggest stars in R&B and Hip-Hop. From Rick Ross, Kanye West, Sean Paul, Scarface, Missy Elliott, Bryson Tiller and Jay-Z, Khaled has supported, promoted and provided soundtracks to multiple summers. However, there’s a question (more like a rant) that I need to get off my chest.
My question, to whoever’s reading this is: is Khaled a culture vulture? Hear, or read what I’m trying too say. DJ Khaled *is not an artist*. The Miami mogul, who was born and grew up in New Orleans, doesn’t in anyway, on any of his commercial releases or singles, reflect or sound inspired by the city he grew up in. Instead, he moved to a city, vibrant with popular upcoming artists (all at their respected comeuppances) as well as a scene that exemplified and directly associates itself with common themes portrayed in Hip-Hop. Khaled, as much as he is credited as an artist, the man doesn’t really do that much in the studio in regards to producing a beat from scratch, providing vocals (unless you count his awful verse on his “Welcome To My Hood – Remix”) or being…brutally honesty here; creative.
When I see footage of Khaled in the studio, he’s never in front of the boards laying down keys or organising a drum pattern, he is, simply sitting or standing, throwing out ideas of ground-works for a song. He doesn’t directly contribute any sound to the song or aesthetic and instead, he just shouts his name and ridiculous ad-libs that would be better off removed from the songs. So, when it comes down to the actual producing and writing of the records, Khaleds’ contributions are so minimal, it’s so surprising that he even does get credit on production or writing.
However, there’s no doubt Khaled has an amazing ear for instrumentals as well as the featured artists he intends to put on them. One of the first tracks I heard, listed by DJ Khaled, was “The Originators” featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. The track is filled with tongue-twisting and head-turning verses from the chopper MCs and I enjoyed it. Seeing an OG Hip-Hop group collaborate with someone who was relatively unknown amongst the masses yet pushed out projects that contained quality content.
Although his albums don’t always keep me entertained from start-to-finish, there will be a few tracks that stand out for the chemistry of artists on the track, for example, “They Ready” featuring Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T has brilliant production and outstanding verses from each artist. Yet, Khaleds’ contribution to the record is, as always, shouting just random words and “WE THE BEST”.
His latest album, ‘Major Key’, was his most star-studded album to date. Featuring the first collaboration between 808 Mafia, Jay-Z and Future on “I Got The Keys”, the soulful but booming Big Sean and Kendrick “Holy Key” as well as a Lil Wayne and Travis Scott record.
While he does gather and recruit the best vocalists and producers to craft club orientated records, “FOR THE STREETS” tracks or just typical Hip-Hop, Khaled is, very much in my eyes, a culture vulture. The reason why, because he profits and exposes himself as a representative of the Hip-Hop community, yet doesn’t seem to ever be in the news for giving back to his home city or helping out struggling artists or regular individual.