DJ Khaled’s role in the hip-hop industry [Blog/Video]
Toronto, ON – Recently, I’ve been doing some thinking about DJ Khaled and the role he plays in the hip-hop industry. Most people know him as the guy who screams “DJ KHALED!” and “WE THE BEST!” at the beginning of songs and making appearances in videos. First and foremost he’s a DJ but he was also a member of Terror Squad, and has put out 5 studio albums with a 6th one, Kiss The Ring, dropping August 21st. He’s also the CEO of We The Best Management, a YMCMB artist and an executive at Def Jam Records.
Sure DJ Khaled’s resume is undeniably impressive, but something about his involvement in the hip-hop industry doesn’t sit right with me. The average listener; the type who might not understand the inner-workings of something like mechanical royalties, or what an executive producer does, can be easily confused about the role that DJ Khaled plays. Every song he puts out is titled “DJ Khaled featuring so and so” but he doesn’t actually have a verse, nor is the hook his and he didn’t make the beat. In my opinion, he’s double dipping because all I ever see him doing is performing in videos, ad libbing and promoting for other artists. My question is this: what exactly is DJ Khaled doing that allows him to have his name attached to all these songs and claim the track as his own?
I brought this question up to Bizz and he mentioned that Khaled acts as an executive producer on records and he ‘puts it all together,’ so to speak. It goes something like he has an idea for a song then brings in the artists. In the words of Bizz, “he fosters the records,” so basically because he puts his creative direction into it and gets to call it his own. A comparable example would be Diddy; he sat down with producers and gave his input, and said “try this sample” or “add this instrument” etc. On the other hand, Diddy also raps, sings and dances (well, tries).
I found an interview on YouTube from BMI Video that clarified a lot of my questions and confirmed what Bizz said. If you’ve ever wanted a better understanding of the role someone like Khaled plays, you’ll want to check this out. In the clip, Khaled breaks it down and identifies himself as an artist and a producer. But still, when I put the pieces together I have trouble wrapping my head around it. I can understand the producer side but I can’t see the artist side. I don’t think he’s a true artist. To me, a true artist is someone who raps or sings, makes a beat, and writes complete songs… not a person who puts a record together. That would be a different role.
Either way, one thing is for sure, his work is well respected and significant since dudes like Kanye, Ross and Drake are merely being featured on songs that appear to be entirely theirs. I’ve come to realize that DJ Khaled is part of the bigger picture. He might not be rapping or singing, but his creative input is there and that’s why he gets credit. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think he’s been given a little too much credit, but hey, that’s just me.
Shout-out to Bizz for lending his ear and thoughts! Make sure you peep the interview below courtesy of BMI!
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
Please note: The opinions expressed in the above editorial are the views of the journalist and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of HipHopCanada Inc., our partners or affiliates.
How I Wrote That Song 2012 (DJ Khaled Interview)
BMI presented “How I Wrote That Song”, its annual pre-Grammy event, today at The Key Club in West Hollywood. The panel featured RZA, the Grammy-winning founder of the Wu-Tang Clan; Joel and Benji Madden, co-founders of Good Charlotte; Rev Run, the Grammy-winning hip-hop icon; DJ Khaled, a multiple Grammy-nominee/producer/artist; and RedOne, a Grammy-winning songwriter/producer.
The panel, moderated by Catherine Brewton, BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, focused on the process of writing, producing and performing hit songs. Each panelist shared anecdotal stories on how their greatest hits were spawned, and attendees were also treated to an impromptu performance by Joel and Benjamin Madden, who debuted their new song “Brother.”