DJ Khaled Brings the Keys to Skirball

Abigail Weinberg
DJ Khaled and Elliott Wilson spoke at the Skirball Center on April 19 as part of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music's CRWN interview series.

The road from sleeping in cars to meeting Obama and touring with Beyoncé is all about love, God and good vibes. That’s how record producer, DJ and Snapchat superstar DJ Khaled explains his success.

Elliott Wilson, journalist and CEO of Rap Radar, interviewed Khaled in the 20th installment of his #CRWN (pronounced “crown”) conversation series at the Skirball Center on Tuesday, April 19. The extremely garrulous and ever-quotable Khaled discussed his relationship with the leaders of the hip-hop industry and, most of all, his massive Snapchat following. As Wilson said, “He’s clearly the Snapchat king.”

Khaled has used Snapchat to document his daily life in 10-second video clips, making people laugh while he’s at it. Khaled said that he didn’t realize the scope of his success until he was mobbed in an Apple store one afternoon. Throughout the interview, he repeated a number of his catchphrases like “special cloth alert” and “secure your bag,” receiving applause and shouts from the audience each time.

“The whole Snapchat thing is a blessing for me because it made me connect with my fans even more,” Khaled said. “It’s like an antenna worldwide where I can connect with all my beautiful fans, and I feel like I know every single one of my fans and I feel like we have a certain connection.”

Khaled’s zany Snapchat personality is not a front; he talked for over an hour and continually spewed Snapchat-worthy quips. When Elliott asked him how he became a good businessman, he said, “By doing good business.” On meeting Obama, he said, “It was amazing, meaning as in he’s my president.”

Khaled stressed his personal relationship to the musicians he works with. He claimed to be one of the first people to show love to Kanye West, and he recounted the good times he had working with Lil Wayne and Drake. Regarding Jay Z, he had one thing to say: “I got a manager. His name is Jigga.”

But beneath the bubbly, if somewhat scattered, personality is true talent. Khaled was signed with Jay Z’s Roc Nation in February and will be opening for Beyoncé’s upcoming Formation tour. Though he thanked God repeatedly for his success, Khaled’s own skills and experience as a DJ clearly had something to do with it — which he also acknowledged.

“I’m one of the best DJs in the world, for real,” he said.

Khaled, in addition to being lively and talented, seems to have a good heart as well. Near the end of the session, music industry executive Lyor Cohen walked onto the stage and interrupted the conversation to thank Khaled for coming to visit him in an intensive care unit days prior. Cohen had suffered a pulmonary embolism, and the doctor who saved his life was named, coincidentally, Dr. Khalid.

In response, Khaled recounted seeing Cohen’s Snap story, which had shown the 300 Entertainment CEO in an ICU, which led him to sneak past security to visit him in the hospital. Cohen made his appearance here, at Skirball, to thank Khaled for the special visit.

For Khaled, though, the hospital visit was just part of the routine. After all, “The more blessings you give, the more blessings you get back.”

Email Abigail Weinberg at [email protected]

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