DJ Khaled for Dummies
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio
Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and Zig Ziglar could have never foreseen that the most well known motivational speaker of the last fifty years hasn't penned a single self-help book (although don't rule out the possibility).
In 2016, Snapchat brought to the forefront a man who's become so popular for his oft-repeated quotes of daily affirmation, that even the White House gave him a shout out with its first ever Snap that contained the caption: “The key: get some rest before the big day.”
He's got the presence of Mr. T and the gentleness of the Dalai Lama. He is Miami's shoutiest radio personality and currently a worldwide social media phenomenon. He is DJ Khaled and on the daily he shares his personal keys to success with short, inspirational quotes (which you can now purchase on sandals and t-shirts at Wethebeststore.com) to over two million followers.
The 40 year-old hip-hop DJ and producer is a man full of energy and life and a never-ending string of mini-speeches meant to boost himself and inspire his fans. He's a ghetto William Wallace yelling about the fight for freedom, only in his case, it's the freedom to eat whatever his personal cook, Chef Dee, has whipped up for him.
Encouraging. Supportive. As far as motivational speakers go, he's probably got Jesus a little nervous.
That being said, for the unfamiliar, his messages might be a little confounding. Seriously. What in the hell is this man talking about?
If you've read (or are on your way to reading) this week's cover story on Khaled and still find yourself a little confused, here is our attempt, using proper grammar and the noble, guiding spirit of DJ Khaled, to define and translate some of the greatest hits of The Gospel of Khaled.
Like a personal trainer hell-bent on shattering your will to live, DJ Khaled is all about “another one.” Essentially this boils down to pushing on, not giving up, and always moving forward. Of course, all this prodding does come with a hug, a kiss, and a hair tussle the way an overeager mother would comfort her child (“You smart! You loyal! You’re a genius!”) Additionally, “another one” also acts as the grown up version of the chimes that played on our read-along tapes as kids, the ones alerting us to turn the page. “Another one” let's us know that it's time for the next part of the story, of the adventure we call life. When Khaled accomplishes one goal, he instantly sets his sights on another one.
Born in Palestine and raised Muslim, DJ Khaled is perhaps the most unlikeliest of party animals. Still, despite his disregard for Islam's most tenacious restrictions and bans on alcohol, he comes across as a very spiritual person. He's perpetually thankful for everything he has, as he should be, considering his humble beginnings and his nearly twenty year path to fame and fortune. Therefore, saying “bless up” for a big meal, for his cars, for his friends, and for making it safely to shore after getting lost on a jet ski at night, all make sense. “Bless up” is also a versatile greeting or farewell (kind of like aloha) and shows a degree of friendship and respect.
For example: give thanks for Cîroc Apple.
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio
“Give Thanks to the Most High”
This phrase is in the same vein as “bless up” and acknowledges both his belief in God, which he's referenced in the past in both interviews and his social media, and the continual presence of a higher power in his life, in particular Mother Nature. DJ Khaled loves his plants. He soaks them in water as much as he soaks his husky frame in his outdoor hot tub. It's also a phrase he seems to use frequently and to share with his fans in an effort to stay humble in the face of getting free bottles of Cîroc Apple and hanging out with Miami Heat players and every famous rapper on the planet. He's got a lot to give thanks for.
“Major [Key Symbol] Alert!”
When you see this, you know you're about to receive some invaluable advice or some truth is about to be laid down. Or at least something Khaled is super excited about. Which is everything. All the goddamn time. He loves to share life lessons, both of the mundane kind, “The key to more success is coco butter” and the no-shit-but-that-still-makes-sense kind, "Major key: Stay away from liars; they're liars."
“They don't want us to [insert whatever verb you wish and it works]”
Perhaps the most puzzling of his catchphrases is the “they don't want us to...” as in, “they don't want us to eat breakfast.” Or better yet, this quasi-rant: “They don’t want you to win. They don’t want you to have the No. 1 record in the country. They don’t want you get healthy. They don’t want you to exercise. And they don’t want you to have that view.” Okay, okay, DJ Khaled, but who exactly are “they?” In an interview with Bon Appétit Magazine, Chef Dee Hodges said, “In my opinion, ‘they’ are whoever is bringing negative energy to positive vibes.” There you go. Straight from the mouth that feeds the loudmouth.
“We The Best”
It's the name of his second record, newly opened merchandise website, and Khaled's own record label. It's simple, shameless, self promotion. If there's one thing that Khaled does and does well, it's promote. He'll tell you precisely what brand of boat to buy, what soap to wash with, what sneaker cleaner use to keep your kicks fresh, and of course what online store to shop at to get your We The Best gear (Wethebeststore.com, duh).
Like a modern, pop music Shakespeare, DJ Khaled continuously makes up words (“overstand”) and coins phrases at such a rate that it's as if he thinks the English language is running out of words.
In the same manner as Yogi Berra, Khaled has a knack for stating the obvious (“The key is to make it”) and like many of Berra's Yogi-isms, sometimes his quotes are so funny and so stupid, they make you smile, and as far as Khaled is concerned, that's a win they presumably don't want him to have.
In the meantime, listen to what he says, take it as you will, and bless up.
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