I feel great, man. I’m blessed. God is great. I wake up every day and it’s the best. I give thanks for life.
How’s your new album, We the Best, coming?
My album is crazy. It’s going to be a classic. It’s dropping June 12. The first single, “We Takin’ Over,” is doing great. It’s real big and the whole album is real big. I have so many records on this album. I’m not going to lie to you, every song on the album is a big single. Remember “Hypnotize”? Me and Ross reenacted the Biggie and Diddy act where they were driving backwards on the highway. Me and Joe were on the speedboat and me and TI did something crazy. Lil’ Wayne and Birdman are rapping in the church and then all of us are there with Akon. I’m all about unity and it’s going to be the No. 1 record in the country. I promise you.
Listennn did real well for you. It sounds like We the Best is going to be a great follow-up.
Listennn was a classic. It brought me into the game on another level and I made the whole world listen. Now I’m letting everybody know that we the best. I’m not saying that I’m the best. I’m saying “we.” I’m talking about HipHopGame, all the artists and producers, we the best. I’m showing them that I’m coming consistent and I’m coming with hits. I make hit records. I put hit records together. I make hits.
Where do you get the ideas for collaborations and videos?
I start off with the production. The production has to be big. I knew when I got the “We Takin’ Over” beat that it was going to be big. I called Danja. I told him I had the idea and I wanted to make this record. We booked studio time. I got off the plane and I ran to the studio. He put the beat together and it was crazy. I said I was going to put Akon on the chorus and make it sound big. Akon is my friend and my brother. He delivered and I knew it was going to be history. I knew I was going to put Lil’ Wayne and Birdman, Rick Ross, TI and Joe Crack on the record. TI fell in love with the record and did it in two minutes.
How much production did you handle on We the Best?
I did two tracks and the rest I let the other people do. Danja, Cool and Dre, the Diaz Brothers, Steve Morales did a joint, the Runners…it’s a movement. We the best.
What are your goals for We the Best?
First of all, I want “We Takin’ Over” to be the No. 1 single in the country on everything. I want to be No. 1 on TRL. I want to show the game that this is what I do. My second single, I’m going to give you a hint, it’s called “Brown Paper Bag.” Remember I told you it’s going to be a monster.
You have a lot of big artists giving you great work. You don’t see them doing that with every DJ putting together an album. Why do they work with you like that?
I’m a real person. They feel my energy. I have great relationships with them. I’ve been down with a lot of them since day one. We build. G’s recognize G’s. Real recognizes real. That’s the way it is. I represent unity. This is my passion. They see my passion and they want to be a part of it. I want to be a part of their work too. Eventually I’ll be one of the biggest executives in the game.
DJ Absolut said he would be dropping his compilation later this summer, but right now was “Khaled’s time.” It seems that you have the respect of fellow DJs as well.
Absolut is a great guy. I respect him a lot. He shows me a lot of love. He’s family. I know he’s been working hard on his album and I support him 100%. My album is an album. When you get it, it’s a vibe from the intro to the outro. We’re like a group. We’re the best. It’s a movement.
A lot of DJ albums haven’t done well lately. Why do you think that is?
This is my philosophy, and it’s not about a DJ, it can be about anybody – a hit is a hit. You have to make incredible music. I’m not asking rappers to jump on beats and saying I have rappers on my album. I’m about concepts and making hits. We’re the best. I tell everybody, “It doesn’t matter what record company you are. A hit is a hit.” Of course you have to push your hit and go through the politics and knock doors down, but a hater can’t stop a hit. This business has a lot of hate in it but I represent the love. That’s why a lot of people fuck with me. We the best.
Are you doing anything differently on We the Best that you didn’t do on Listennn?
Yeah. I’m doing a lot of things differently. What I did on this one is I’m making this one bigger. You have to get bigger as you go on. You get the ’06 and then you want the ’07. I got people who didn’t believe in me the first time and now they’re going to believe in me because I’m going to make a movie.
What did you learn through putting out Listennn?
It’s not easy. You have to get clearances. You have to shoot videos. You have to go through politics to get your record played on the radio. It’s a lot of work, man. It’s a lot of work. And the people that are working with you have to believe in you to win. It’s a hard battle. Listennn made people believe. I have a team and my team is just so powerful. It’s crazy. I refuse to lose. I come from radio so I know what a hit record is. If you’re not coming at me with a hit record, you’re wasting my time.
Were you happy with how Listennn did?
I sold over 270,000 units and it’s still selling. I’m very happy. I’m almost at 300,000.
What made the single “Born and Raised” so successful?
That record is so special because it’s a regional record, but I had to drop it as a single because I had to let my city know that I repped my city. I gave them a record that’s going to be going down in historical books. That’s a Miami anthem forever. I walk around in Miami and people’s mothers hug me. That record has a lot of past to it and I dedicated that record to my man DJ Uncle Al, who passed away. That was a big record.
Cam’ron announced a few months ago that he was starting an anti-Koch campaign and that they still owed you money. Are you good with Koch?
Koch is great people. I love Koch Records. Alan Grunblatt, I look up to him. I think he’s a great, great, great exec and president. Koch Records is an incredible label. I have nothing but love for Koch. They believe in me and we’re family. They’re going to win big with this record because we’re the best.
How involved are you in Terror Squad today?
I’m involved with Terror Squad 24 hours. I’m with Fat Joe almost every day and if I’m not with him, I’m on the phone with him. I am the logo of Terror Squad. Call me the Logo. Everything I do is Terror Squad. Me driving this car home from the studio, I’m repping Terror Squad. DJ Khaled represents Fat Joe and Big Pun forever.
Is there a reason Remy, Prospect and Armageddon weren’t on Listennn?
Remy decided to do her own thing. Prospect and Armageddon are great guys. I don’t know why they haven’t dropped albums. You’ll have to ask them that question. Terror Squad is a family and we appreciate the fans.
Was the opportunity there for them to get on the album?
The opportunity is always there for every member of Terror Squad. I can’t tell you how anyone else is but I can tell you how Khaled is - I wanted to make an album so I woke up and I started to make an album. When my family sees me making an album, they’re going to join in. I’m a winner and I’m going to keep going. And I’m going to represent my team winning. It’s the same with Fat Joe waking up and making an album. You can’t expect somebody to make it for you.
What do you think of Remy leaving Terror Squad?
I think she should have never left Terror Squad. I think that was the worst mistake she’s ever made. Why would you leave your family? Whatever she wants to do, God bless her. What was the reason for leaving Terror Squad? I don’t get it.
You’ve gone the independent route with Koch and Fat Joe’s gone independent with EMI. Do you see more artists going that route?
I’m sure a lot of artists look at what we’re doing and say, “Damn.” Fat Joe has always made huge hit records from the beginning of his career. He has always made huge radio spinners from the beginning of his career. “Make It Rain” is one of the biggest records of his career. Look at his hits – “Make It Rain,” “Lean Back,” “What’s Luv” and “We Thuggin’”. Then look at mine with “Born and Raised” and “Grammy Family.” Now I have “We Takin’ Over”. This shit is going to be No. 1, for real. What I’m trying to explain to the world is that a hit is a hit and of course you have to push it. But if you want that movie and you don’t have a hit, you’re just wasting your time.
When you first heard “Make It Rain,” did you think it would be as big as it is today?
The minute that man recorded those vocals, I knew it was going to be a hit record. I knew it with “Lean Back” too. I knew it with “What’s Luv” and “We Thuggin’” too.
What’s your secret for succeeding on an independent level?
No sleep. You have to be on the grind 24 hours.
You broke Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’”. What does that mean to you?
I knew that was a hit. I knew it was going to be out of here. Some markets it took longer and in some markets it caught on quicker. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a radio DJ and it takes a DJ in each city to break a record. They have to believe. Niggas can hate on a record, but if it’s a hit, it can’t be stopped because there’s a thing called “the streets.” When you’re on the corner and you’re getting a car wash and a kid is bumping the song and it’s not on the radio, you can’t stop that.
Rick Ross is my brother. He is making so much incredible music. Remember I told you he is going to be one of the biggest rappers in the game. His swagger is crazy. He’s just dope.
You never really hear Miami artists beefing with each other. Why is that?
We have a rule out here that you can’t disrespect anybody in the crib, and the crib is Miami. If there is a problem, we have to fix it. It’s just a rule out here. If there’s a problem with Khaled, somebody is going to fix it. If I have a problem with somebody, we have to fix it. It’s the crib. Why would we disrespect the city and disrespect the fans? The fans love us. Why would we do that?
You had Scott Storch and Timbaland on your DVD and now they’re beefing. What do you think about that?
I’m not with it. Scott Storch is my friend and Timbaland is my friend. I want them to sit down and talk it over. I don’t think it’s as serious as it’s being made out to be. They may be bickering, but friends argue. They made records dissing each other and I’m not with that shit. I’m hoping those two brothers can just be cool and get money because they’re both great guys.
A lot of artists say they’re the king or No. 1. Do you think there’s a rapper head-and-shoulders above the rest?
Everybody’s supposed to say they’re No. 1, but there are the special people out there who are amazing and incredible. You’re supposed to represent yourself to the best.
On an old mixtape, you said, “Tony Touch, I got your back for life.” Are you still in touch with him?
I spoke to him the other day. I did my first collaboration mixtape with him back in the day. I’ve known Tony for almost 13 years.
DJ Irie spins for the Miami Heat. Do you ever see yourself spinning at places like that?
It’s all about what opportunities present itself. I don’t know what the future holds.
As a producer, do you have a favorite style being you’ve worked with artists from all over the place and live in Miami?
I call myself the Beat Novacaine because I have real hard drums and dramatic beats. My style is dramatic. I don’t have a New York or Miami sound or East Coast sound. If you want dramatic music, call me.
How has your production techniques changed over the years?
It’s gotten bigger because the sound changes and you have to reinvent yourself. When you make a hit, you have to reinvent yourself because everybody calls you for that hit and you have to reinvent your sound. You have to flip the script and keep reinventing yourself. The bigger you get, the harder it gets because you have to reinvent yourself every time and that’s a challenge. And I love it. I love making music. I wish I had more time to be in the studio. I’m in the studio every day but I’m putting records together, recording vocals, A&R’ing and making beats. Eventually I would like to have more time to just focus on the beats to get more of that work out there.
What’s the biggest challenge you face managing the Runners?
The biggest challenge is when the Runners call me up and tell me what project they want to get on and then I’ll have to go execute it and get it done. I’ve succeeded with every project they’ve asked for. Right now they’re working with TI. They gave him three incredible records. They gave R.Kelly six incredible records. They gave Rick Ross records. They’re working with me. They’re working with Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls. They’re working with everybody. These guys are fucking huge.
A lot of DJ’s have their own artist. Are you going to have an artist someday?
Oh yeah. I got some secrets up my sleeve. You’re going to hear about it soon.
Can having an artist ever hurt the integrity of a DJ?
People might see it that way, but it goes back to what I was saying – a hit is a hit. If it’s not a hit, he’s playing himself. If it’s a hit, you can’t stop it. A hit is a hit.
What do you look for in new artists to break them on the radio?
His swagger. I look for his swagger because the swagger tells everything. The flow explains the artist and his movement and his vibe. Rick Ross has swagger. Biggie had swagger. Jay-Z and Fat Joe have swagger.
How important are lyrics in 2007?
Lyrics are very important. Whoever says lyrics aren’t important is crazy, but it’s in the way you present your lyrics. The way Rick Ross presents his lyrics is amazing. On this album, you’re going to hear some shit.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming artists?
Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop grinding. Get your music heard. If you know you have a hit, go hard.
What’s your focus going to be until We the Best drops?
I have to promote it to the people so they can appreciate my hard work. And then after that, expect the executive side to come out of me. Expect the Runners to be on every album that’s coming out. And I’ll be in the studio making another record. I’m not going to stop. We’re going to start working on Fat Joe’s new album. We have too many projects coming out to be relaxed. We have Brisco, Flo Rida, Joe Hound…there’s a lot of shit.
What do you want to say to everybody?
We the best. Who? We! We the Best is in stores June 12. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. Thank you for all the love. I appreciate it.