Can DJ Khaled save the world?
Of course not, you're saying to yourself. But you probably didn't expect the underground DJ from Miami to turn Snapchat into an art form, to become a household name before he ever rapped on a track, or to coast to the top of the Billboard charts on a wave of pure braggadocio, perseverance, and positivity.
And that was before he became a dad.
"My son is my biggest blessing," he says over lunch in his Aventura mansion as Asahd, the 1-year-old executive producer of Khaled's 2017 album, Grateful, naps upstairs. "I look at everything different now. When I work hard, nonstop, I don't get tired because I know I'm doing it for my son."
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Not that Khaled wasn't a hard worker before. This is the guy who broadcast nearly 24 hours a day on an underground radio station, sleeping in the warehouse where it was housed, in order to get discovered by Uncle Luke. Khaled's limitless work ethic led him to collaborations with Miami's hottest stars — Rick Ross, Pitbull, Fat Joe — who then connected him to nationally known talent such as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber. Rihanna helped make the Khaled-produced track "Wild Thoughts" one of the biggest hits of the summer. His hustle doesn't quit even during his downtime. Lounging on his living-room couch with his wife, Nicole Tuck, he shoots a series of promotional Snapchat videos to brands in his good graces: "Shout out to Champs Sports!" "Shout out to Childsplay for all the fly Gucci!" "Thank you for the hookup. Bless up."
But becoming a father, Khaled says, has added a playful vibe to his earnest, urgent persona. "I've always been the type of guy to have no fear in the studio," he says. "I don't follow no rules. But now, with my son, it's like I've got a different bounce. I've got an energy, a glow that's on forever."
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Here, in Khaled's exclusive enclave, where a massive crystal chandelier and bar stocked with magnums of Belaire champagne share space with Dr. Seuss books and an inflatable ball pit in the shape of an alligator, it could be easy to forget the troubles in the rest of the world: hurricanes, gun violence, actual Nazis marching in the streets.
But being a father has inspired Khaled to act.
"I can't let nothing bring me and my family down," he says. "I don't know what you consider political, but I get real." Just a few days after saying this, he appeared at Tidal's benefit for hurricane victims in New York City and then at another show for charity alongside Marc Anthony at Marlins Park. Khaled says he has also donated his own money to the cause.
"Love is the answer, love is the key, love is the solution," he says. "Y'know, it's hard times, but you know what? It's always been hard times, and we have to make it better. The only people that can make it better is us."