DJ Khaled Is Back And More Blessed Up Than Ever With His Latest Album, “God Did”

DJ KhaledPhoto Credit: IVAN BERRIOS





BEFORE WE EVEN SAY ‘hello,’ I know what my conversation with DJ Khaled is going to look like. I mean, “bless up” is his catchphrase. His recently released thirteenth studio album is called God Did. There’s little doubt that a spiritual and philosophical conversation is in store. I can’t wait.

And so, my very first question when the 46-year-old DJ, producer, record executive, and author signs on to Zoom is this: “God did what specifically?” Trust me: I know what I’m doing by opening this can of worms.

Khaled, a devout Muslim, lets out a loud breath as he contemplates his answer. “Ah, man! Well first, we have to talk about a whole lifetime of what He’s done. But first, He gave us life. You know what I’m saying? And the beautiful thing about life is when you have it, you can do anything you want to do. You can accomplish anything you want. And I know that I’m blessed by God. He’s blessed me to be the guy that walks into a room and lights it up — not because I’m trying to have attention, no. I could walk in and not say a word, and the room is lit up.”

He pauses, and I’m excited. I know Khaled is about to deliver one of his legendary Tony-Robbins-esque sermons, that he’s about to preach in the unique way only he can. And… he’s off!

“My family always taught me to praise God, and so ever since I was a little kid, I made showing my gratitude to God a priority. I pray every day. I pray almost every second, you know? Even if I’m not in my prayer stance, I’m praying. I’m saying ‘thank you.’ I’m praying for my friends and family; I’m praying for love; and I’m praying for the world to be a better place — but I also know that I have to go out there and make it better. So, the older I got, the wiser I got. I realized that even if you don’t believe that God did, it doesn’t matter, because God believes in you. Knowing that God believes in me, I have to go harder. I have to show more gratitude every day. So everything that I’m doing, everything I’ve done, everything I’m going to do, from the past to the future, God has His hands on, because He believes in me. I’m His child. He’s speaking to me. And because He’s speaking to me, my inspiration is non-stop; I wake up inspired. God did that. You know what I’m saying?”

I do. But enquiring minds want to know: if he wakes up inspired, is it because his dreams are so vivid? Khaled seems to be the kind of person who dreams big, and in technicolor. I mean, the man is entirely self-made: he is the New-Orleans-born son of two Palestinian immigrants, who started off with nothing more than a love of music, belief in a higher power, a belief in himself. And from that alone, he has built one hell of an empire, because Khaled is the kind of man who makes his dreams a reality.

DJ KhaledPhoto Credit: IVAN BERRIOS

“My dreams, especially if they’re great ones, I bring to life,” he declares. Case in point, God Did (the album, not the mantra). “Making this album, I couldn’t sleep. A few hours a day, that was it, because my mind was working all day trying to make a masterpiece.” He pauses, goes full Yoda. “Not trying: I made a masterpiece.”

Moving on: “I’d wake up early in the morning and run to the studio because I had so many ideas in my head. My mind kept working while I was sleeping… but is that dreaming? I don’t know. [What I do know] is that these big dreams needed to be brought to life.”

This is the ethos behind God Did, a juggernaut of an album that might just be Khaled’s biggest and most monumental undertaking to date. That the album is referred to as his magnum opus isn’t far off. He collaborated with Dr. Dre and The ICU for the first time ever, and reunited with his longtime “brothers” Drake, JAY-Z, and Rick Ross. He also brought in a slew of celebrity friends and collaborators, who just so happen to be the biggest names in the business, inclusive of Eminem, Future, Kanye West, SZA, 21 Savage, Lil Wayne, Lil Durk, Roddy Ricch, Travis Scott, Latto, City Girls, Kodak Black, Quavo, Takeoff, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Buju Banton, Skillibeng, Capelton, Fridayy, Don Toliver, Jadakiss, Nardo Wick, Vory, John Legend, and the late Juice WRLD. No big deal, right?

Understandably, the We The Best Music Group/Epic Records release bowed at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, earning Khaled his fourth career #1 debut. And I’m sure it’s needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway) that Khaled believes God’s will was the driving force behind the album’s success. As for Jay-Z and Drake? Well, they helped, too. 

“I’m spiritual, and that comes across in my music, that comes across in the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I move — in the way I do everything,” he says now, noting, “I could be in the middle of a meeting, or the middle of an interview, and be like, ‘God is great!’ I’ll just come out of nowhere and say that. And you feel that with God Did.  The title track is also called ‘God Did’ and I start off saying, ‘While you hatin’ and being jealous? You could be over here embracing that love; more love, more blessings, more life.’ Basically, what I’m trying to say is, come over here, come get a hug. All that other stuff, that ain’t dealing with love.”

Of course it was all love in the studio, given that so many of the artists Khaled enlisted are part of his extended family, brothers that drop by his Miami Beach mega-mansion on the reg for a casual dinner or a swim in his 80-foot-long pool. 

“Everybody that worked on my album, they know that, besides us being great, we work with each other because we’re talented and we respect each other. They know that going into it, there’s going to be love, because love is the only thing that I deal with,” he swears.

Love, he says, is why his A-list pals come back time and time again to help their brother out. “A lot of the artists you see me working with, I worked with them at the beginning of their careers, just like they worked with me at the beginning of mine. Respect for each other is on the highest level, because we came up from the mud to the marble floors. Also, we know who we are as individuals, as hustlers. And so, a lot of these kings and queens, I consider them family. Jay-Z is family to me; Drake, [Rick] Ross, Lil’ Wayne, Future… they’re family. These are real friendships. We don’t just make music together; we talk to each other on the regular. They come over for dinner, and we just chill. Some of us even go on vacation together — but not everyone sees it, because it isn’t all on social media.”

The world might not see it, but they certainly hear it: his latest album is proof of that. On the eight-plus-minute title track, for example, he reunites with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, and Fridayy to spark an impactful conversation about spirituality. The closing track, ‘Grateful’ (featuring Vory) showcases the gratitude he has for everything he’s been given in life, while ‘Staying Alive’ (featuring Drake and Lil Baby) is his anthem for surviving the pandemic; and ‘Beautiful’ (featuring SZA and Future) is a track for “all the beautiful queens out there.” 
He has a lot to say, in particular, about ‘Big Time’ (featuring Future and Lil Baby), as well as hitting it. “When we were making [the] record, I was at dinner with Future, and I was like, yo, we can’t be big time if we don’t move big time. And we ended up making an anthem called ‘Big Time.’ To me, ‘Big Time’ is praying. ‘Big Time’ is saying ‘thank you.’ ‘Big Time’ is saying ‘bless up.’ ‘Big Time’ is saying, ‘I love you.’ A lot of us, where I come from, show our blessings and successes through our watches, through our clothes, through our words. You can’t be big time if you ain’t got security, and we’re not talking about ‘cause we flossin’, no. You can’t want to be big time and not move big time. It’s like, you can’t be big time if you ain’t got the Haute Living cover!”

Kudos Khaled — I see you.

DJ KhaledPhoto Credit: IVAN BERRIOS

DJ KHALED — BORN KHALED MOHAMMED KHALED — is chilling at home at his $25.9 million waterfront pad in Miami, and life is good. He is, as he himself might say, blessed up (and in a big way).

Home has always been where Khaled’s heart is. It’s where his family is, and it’s in the Magic City — the city responsible for making him a legend. It’s where, for over two decades, his career has grown from strength to strength, where he laid his hat after winning four Grammys; where he achieved dozens of multiplatinum and gold certifications, including the sextuple-platinum Billboard Hot 100 #1 ‘I’m The One’ (featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne), the quadruple-platinum ‘Wild Thoughts’ (featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller), and double-platinum ‘No Brainer’ (featuring Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and Quavo); where he’d head back to after shooting blockbusters like Bad Boys For Life and Pitch Perfect 3; where he launched his record label, management, publishing, and production company, We the Best Music Group; and where he established his non-profit, the We The Best Foundation.

And so when he says that Miami is not only a city, but also a part of him, I totally get it.

“Miami raised me to who I am right now, besides my family, obviously, and God,” he declares. “When you hear my sound, it’s inspired by Miami. I’m so grateful that my city loves me, and that my city knows my story — that I started off working hard, and that I’m still working hard. My whole empire was born in Miami; my growth came from the city. Everywhere I go all over the world, I represent the 305, Miami-Dade County. It’s a part of me.”

DJ Khaled
DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 3 collection

I always want to know why, and this time is no different. What is it about this city that inspires such pride, outside of being the place that made him a star? Khaled breaks it down for me. 

“I would say there’s no city in the world like Miami. I feel like we are so blessed to have so much culture here. You’ve got Jamaicans, Haitians, Cubans, Latinos, Americans; I’m Palestinian American. I drive down the street, and I be in Cuba, I be in Puerto Rico, I be in Jamaica. All these beautiful, diverse people, all in one city. And from a musical perspective, it’s incredible, because if you’re a music producer or an artist, you can embrace so many different sounds. This city is unbelievable on so many levels.”

It’s also contributed to a plethora of opportunities that most of us can only imagine in our wildest dreams, like his upcoming, still-undated DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 5 ‘We The Best’ collaboration, a four-pair collection in retro colors that are sure to be collector’s finds, or his becoming the CCO of global sneaker retailer, Snipes. He’s in the midst of producing a secret record for some big-name artists, shooting several commercials, and also references a mind-blowing moment in his own personal career trajectory that he can’t really talk about, that involves traveling internationally for the first time to parts unknown for a “big, big show” that “people have been wanting for a long time.”

DJ KhaledPhoto Credit: IVAN BERRIOS

And beyond that? “What’s next would be more love, more blessings, and more wins. I’m doing a lot of things for my brand, my empire, my business; I have so much that I can’t wait to share with y’all, that I’ve been working on. I’m always in the studio. [My son] Asahd is playing basketball. He’s only five years old, and he’s playing like he’s in the NBA already. Aalam is two years old, and he caught fish off the dock.

Everything that’s happening, big and small, is incredible, and it’s our job just to keep going.”

But one also needs to know when to press pause, and he’s a believer in that, too. “Sometimes, you need to sit back, look at life, and reflect. I’m watching my boys grow, and when I look at them, I see me. When I look at them, I see my queen. I look at them, and I see God. I see my vision and my work ethic and my creativity. And to be able to sit here, on my couch, with my son right across from me, watching TV, is a blessing, and I don’t take that for granted. Blessings don’t have to be big things — they can be the simplest thing ever, like sitting with my son, watching movies, having popcorn. But it’s those small moments that make me want to go harder, and continue to build the empire even bigger. Because really, I have no choice. I have two beautiful boys, and I’m going to do everything for them. I have to work hard as a daddy, to be there for my kids and my family.”

Which is why he chose to predominantly make God Did in his special place, at home in the Magic City. “You got to understand, when I made this album, I kept all distractions away from me. I was literally refusing millions of dollars while I was working on it. I wouldn’t even reply to people, and I still don’t know if that’s a good thing. I just know that while I was making it, I didn’t want any distortion; I wanted to be super pure,” he explains, sharing that he went to a different place in its creation — figuratively, that is (literally, we now know exactly where he was). 
“You’ve got to remember, I’m a father. I want to be there when my kids come home from school. I want to be woken up in the place where my queen [wife Nicole Tuck] is getting my boys dressed for school,” he says. And so, he made sure that his family was always close by, whether that be at home while he toiled away in the studio, within sight on the beach while he filmed the music video for ‘Beautiful,’ or swimming in a nearby river while he shot the album’s cover on location in Jamaica.

“I can’t take all the credit for this album. Obviously, all glory to God, but you have to give credit to my queen, and my kids, too; that’s why I made them executive producers,” he says. (It’s true, and what’s more, his sons also guested on the album.)

He continues, “I’ve been blessed to have this life, and the love of my family, so I made a promise to myself, and that was to create an environment where I could have my family with me every step of the way. That’s the love I want to be around, non-stop.”

While this is in total alignment with what I’ve learned about Khaled thus far, I admit I’m surprised to learn about what he cherishes in those quiet moments where it’s just Khaled, alone in the universe, indulging and appreciating the rare silence.

The greatest luxury he can imagine is sitting at home in Miami, in his backyard, downing a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with almond milk at 4:47 a.m. (to be exact), shirtless, in his boxers.

“The moments I really cherish are the simplest ones,” he admits. “I’m a real guy. When I become a billionaire, I’m still going to be this Khaled, the one you hear on the phone; the only difference is that I’ll be a billionaire. And I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch at 4:47 a.m. That’s what I do when I’m reflecting on life, feeling peaceful.  Me in the backyard, eating cereal, those are the kind of moments that I look forward to. I work so hard, and when I’m on the road, I just can’t wait to get home to the backyard. But you’ve got to keep going, and I’m just getting started. You know what I’m saying?”

DJ KHALEDPhoto Credit:@Jamiefcw