DJ Khaled Shares Candid Conversation With Nipsey Hussle, How Becoming A Father Changed Him & Why 2020 Will Be The Best Year Yet

DJ Khaled cover storyPhoto Credit: Navid

Photographer: Navid
Styling: Terrell Jones
Shot on location at DJ Khaled & Nicole Tuck’s private Miami Beach home

DJ Khaled has been a part of our daily lives since the moment that the wildly popular Snapchat app came into existence. His use of the platform gave us an inside look at his day-to-day, inviting us into even the most intimate of moments in a family’s life, like the birth of his and his wife Nicole Tuck’s first child, their son, Asahd Khaled. He has taken us with him to every show, into the studio and included us in his morning gratitude ritual, always remaining both uncensored and unfiltered. His passion for his family and music is unquestionable and undeniable. Here, the self-made music mogul invites Haute Living into his home to discuss his latest Grammy nomination with the late Nipsey Hussle, the impending birth of his second child, and how 2020 will be the year of more love, more blessings and more gratitude.

HAUTE LIVING: How are you feeling right now?
DJ KHALED: I’m so blessed. God is great. I ain’t never stopping that’s on everything I love. Just being honest. 2020 is like everything we’ve done, and all the blessings have come full circle. Every day, I make sure I take my time and give thanks, show my love and be grateful to God and my beautiful family. The year 2020 is going to be [about] more gratitude—that’s my message. That’s what I’m living. And what I’m saying is that I’m never stopping. We are just getting started. I want to let people know [that they] ain’t seen anything yet.

HL: Talk to us about the Grammy nomination for “Higher.”
The Grammy nomination is incredible. I remember getting my first Grammy nominations years ago with me, Drake, [Rick] Ross and Lil Wayne for the song “I’m on One.” I remember getting that nomination, and it was just unbelievable. It was like a feeling that I couldn’t describe. It was a motivation to keep going, to [keep making] music. It’s not about the show or a nomination for an award, but it’s just great sometimes to be acknowledged for your greatness. And then I got nominated for Major Key—the album from a few years back—and I remember that was a special time. I was like, “Wow.” My inspiration kept building up even more, and now we are here with this nomination [from the album] Father of Asahd, the song called “Higher” with me and the King Nip, Nipsey Hussle, [and] John Legend. To be able to work with a king like Nipsey Hussle, I’m honored. I’m grateful to have worked with a legend, an icon—somebody that motivated the world and is still motivating the world. It’s just a blessing. I remember telling Nipsey Hussle, “We going to get nominated for a Grammy, God willing, and God willing we take home a Grammy.” I told him this when we were in the studio making the record. This nomination means a lot in so many different ways—it’s powerful. You’re saying street gospel. On Father of Asahd, for me to be on that album—an album with my son’s name on [it]—it means everything. People don’t realize [that] every album I put out, my title is something I’m going through at that time. When he grows up he is going to see [his name on the album]. He’s going to know Daddy ain’t playing no games; Daddy—he go hard, and this title is now Grammy-nominated with a song called “Higher.” That means my son is nominated, too. And that’s what I wanted to do for this album. I wanted this to be for my son. And [with] this album, I wanted the message to be, “Don’t let anyone tell you [that you] can’t do anything.” I wanted this album to represent the people that don’t fold. There’s a difference [between] saying you are going to do something [and] when you actually do it. And we did it. I ain’t playing in 2020. You got me in the right time; my birthday just passed. Thank God for another blessing. God is going to bless us with another baby. You’ve seen the inspiration I got off Asahd. So what you think about to happen? I’m about to go; I ain’t stopping. 

dj khaled cover storyPhoto Credit: Navid

HL: Clearly, family is of the utmost important to you. As a public figure, you’ve changed the game for your generation and those that are coming after. The way you lead as a father is almost more important than what you’ve done musically. You have given men a prototype of how to parent, how to be proud and be a father.
The minute I became a father, my whole life changed. Me as a person changed, too. The way I think, the way I move, just everything has got to be more perfect. I say that, you know, [because] nobody’s perfect. But when I became a father, it wasn’t about me anymore. It’s about my son, my queen and my family that made me step everything up. So I appreciate the compliment. For me, I feel like it’s normal what you’re saying what I do; but people pull me aside and say, “What you just did, I really appreciate that love.” I really do honestly [feel like it’s normal], but I really think this is something that every father should do. I’ve been inspired by other fathers. I’ve been inspired by Jay-Z as a father. I’ve been inspired by Puff Daddy as a father. I’ve been inspired by family members that I know, from uncles that are fathers. There are a lot of great fathers out there, so a big up to all the fathers out there. And mothers, too. Before we had Asahd, I always told my queen how much I love her, but I love [her] even more, and you don’t know how much more you can love until you have this certain type of feeling because there’s really no explanation. There’s no way to explain it. Because ain’t no words to describe enough for my queen and my son. You know, I don’t know if I’m wrong by saying this to my queen: “I’m with you forever.” Meaning, there’s no wrong you could do because God and you gave me my son. And I’m just so happy that we love each other. We have a beautiful family. We have a beautiful relationship, all three of us, and now it’s about to be four of us. We are blessed.

dj khaled cover storyPhoto Credit: Navid

HL: One of the most significant things you’ve done and continue to do is give back to the community. With your We the Best Foundation, what are your long-term plans? Where do you see it going?
You know, me and Nicole [Tuck; DJ Khaled’s wife] have always given back since we have been together ‘cause my family taught me that. But now we are taking it to the next level with the We The Best Foundation and the Asahd Initiative, which is on his birthday. Obviously, we celebrate privately with family, and we celebrate life and Asahd. But we also celebrate on another day for his birthday for all the kids, every kid, every family; we are celebrating them too because I want them to know [along with] Asahd and Nicole [that] every day is your birthday, and we’re blessed, so we want to give blessings to you all, as well. We want to put kids in college; we want to help some of them from birth. We want to help kids [and] the young world. We The Best Foundation is two years old, and it’s been amazing; I appreciate everybody’s support. We’re doing big things every day—from my music to anything [else] I do, any partnership, we involve the foundation because we want that to be the forefront. We want that to be the message because at the end of the day, we work hard to take care of our families, but we also want to work hard to help other families. It’s beautiful to see the kids smiling, see them laugh, and you know, it’s the little things—it could be just a hug. Of course, we give donations. Of course, we do special things, but also we hug, we have conversations, and I want to be there as much as I can because I know that [it] makes a difference. I have people pull me aside and say, “Khaled, what you told me helped me get through.” And I know that feeling ‘cause there have been conversations that have helped me get through things in life. So Nicole and I have been talking, and we want to build a school and a community center. I also want to put people in college, and I want to help them while they’re going through college. I want to help mothers and fathers help their kids so they can be focused to raise [them]. There are so many things that we want to do, and us giving back is very important. It’s the No. 1 priority the Khaled house.

dj khaled cover storyPhoto Credit: Navid

HL: You got your start at a really young age in the music business, and you have obtained a really high level of success while still in your younger years. As you look forward into the future, what do you want your legacy to be?
[What] I want to give to the to the world is [this message]: Don’t fold. Live everything you say you want to do. Don’t let nobody discourage you in no way, saying [you] can’t do something—because they did that to me. They did that to me in so many ways, and they were all wrong. And I’m not mad at nobody that told me that, but I want to tell people [about it] because I do know that there are so many roadblocks in life that will discourage you to do what you [are] supposed to do and what God has destined for you. I just want people to know: Don’t give up, and when you make it to a spot where you think you made it, [say], “Nah, there’s more to do.” [Also,] I want people to say, “Khaled, he loved everyone. Khaled is the type of person that really cared and was always there helping people.” Back in the day, I felt like I gave 99% of myself to other people and one percent to myself. But what I’m learning now is that I have to take care of me and the family, so I can take care of my loved ones. Because if you don’t love yourself, how are you going to love others? I keep saying “don’t fold” because I swear, man, you’d be surprised how many things discourage us from doing something. Today, I feel there’s nothing I couldn’t do if I wanted. I just know it takes work. I’m saying in 2020, I’m about to go in. I’m about to take it to the next level that’s unbelievable. I’m just not stopping. This topic right there, it’s a whole book because everything you see me doing, they told me it couldn’t be done, and they still tell me. So, it’s like this is great motivation for me; it has to get done because I am the father of Asahd—it’s a different priority here now. And now I am about to have another blessing. So again, if you think I’ve been doing it, well, get ready for more because I’m not stopping. I’m not.

nipsey hussle x dj khaledPhoto Credit: Ivan Berrios