If you’re even remotely involved with social media right now, specifically Snapchat, you’ve probably seen DJ Khaled in some fashion.
Khaled, 40, is a hip hop producer based out of Miami, Florida. His songs are often akin to watching an all-star team warm up: radio-ready hook-driven songs packed with a who’s who of popular hip hop stars.
Recently, Khaled began using the Snapchat app to post to his fans a series of messages about positivity. Khaled often refers to tips as a “major key to success,” and encourages his audience to stay hydrated and get massages regularly.
Snapchat has jumped onto Khaled’s buzz by making a series of filters with his visage on them. Their Christmas 2015 filter saw the man as a reindeer exclaiming his catch phrase “Another One.”
Khaled’s life is opulent, to say in the least: he lives ocean-side in a mansion with an elevator, a personal chef, and 15-foot tall closet for his shoes. He constantly flashes his lifestyle and hopes to inspire the masses to get where he is.
Like plenty of other people, I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and a recap of Khaled’s day, which can be from one or two minutes to 5 or 6 (all of which comes in 10-second increments).
Having watched for a few weeks, I now see that Khaled’s snaps reveal a very strange existence for the man who has everything:
1: It’s lonely at Castle Khaled
Khaled’s house is fairly sparsely decorated, and the whole thing is black and white and sleek looking. This unfortunately serves to highlight a distinct lack of people inside. Khaled’s only constant companions seem to be his housekeeper, who seems more confused than anything when he decides to include her; and Chef Dee, his personal chef who makes him the same breakfast every morning (turkey sausage, egg whites, sometimes turkey bacon if he’s feeling frisky).
Aside from these two, there’s never anyone inside Chez Khaled. The man lives in a multiple thousand square foot palace alone. When I consider this, it feels like Khaled mostly makes his snaps because he’s bored. I couldn’t fault him for that, except that:
2. Khaled’s visitors are weird, but I don’t blame them
Khaled doesn’t live entirely in solace: he visits his rapper friends along the waterline, often riding his jet ski over to Rick Ross’s house or Diddy’s place. Occasionally, he has over a series of random people, the most notable of which are Miami Heat Center Hassan Whiteside and shoe guru Benjamin “Kickz”Kapelushnik, a 16 year old known for outfitting hip hop’s finest with the latest footwear.
In this regard, I think Khaled would have an excellent opportunity to spotlight these men and help them to expand their brand. However, Khaled is more like a director, featuring everyone more as proof of “look at these successful people I align myself with” than as actual friends. All of the characters in his life just end up spouting their one catchphrase and then aren’t seen again until the next time Khaled wants to hear it.
I can’t count on both hands the amount of times I’ve heard this exchange:
“Young mogul Ben, how’s business?”
That’s it. There’s never a plug for whatever shoes he’s trying to move, there’s never a “just got the new Jordan whatevers, hit me up.” It’s just enter, catchphrase, leave. It’s surreal to watch: everyone becomes these one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.
I can’t blame guys like Hassan and Ben: when you’re hanging out with Khaled it’s necessary to have a catchphrase, and that’s partly because:
3. Khaled is constantly pushing the brand, for better or worse
Tired of it yet?
Khaled has been using the sample of himself saying “Another One” since his releases pre-2010. Originally, it’s used to indicate that the audience is listening to another hit from him, as part of his brand.
The above video is when the phrase hit a very strange, uncomfortable point: by the 13 second mark, I’m already a little repulsed by his repeated use of it. From there on, we get a series of cringe-worthy lines from him that any other person would never repeat again.
Khaled took it to the extreme, doubled down and has been churning out catchphrases left and right. Current staples include:
“Li-on” (generally exclaimed while he waters his garden and the lion statue that guards it)
These catchphrases are all emblazoned on to shirts and flip flops for purchase by Khaled’s fans. I have to imagine he’s making some kind of money from this whole deal, but there’s a breaking point. Pop culture is a fickle beast: one week everyone can’t stop talking about it, the next they’ve given up and moved on to the next hot topic. Under saturation can ruin one’s popularity, but over saturation can sink a career just as quickly.
But Khaled isn’t worried about his detractors, often referred to as “they.”
4. Who are “They?”
Every day, Khaled’s keys to success involve informing the viewer that “they” don’t want anyone to do something (eat breakfast, be happy, drive a $100,000 sports car, etc). He constantly says “they” are looking to bring everyone down and to enjoy life as an affront to them.
Sometimes “they” is the law: Khaled routinely gets tickets while driving and riding his jet ski and will talk about overcoming those obstacles (by changing the laws, I assume). However, cops probably don’t care if Khaled eats breakfast or not.
I have to wonder who Khaled considers his enemies: who are “they?” Clearly it’s no one in the hip hop world, or he’d have a diss track with everyone on it in two days. Maybe it’s a message to haters who are mad at Khaled for being successful. If that’s the case, why even acknowledge them? The old wisdom is that replying to your haters is the clearest sign of you respecting and acknowledging their opinion as having validity.
I’m not going to come out and say Khaled is suffering from extreme paranoia, but if I were afraid of everyone, I would get a big mansion on the water front and never invite anyone inside…
Regardless, the weird “Truman Show”-esque adventures of the 40 year old are big news right now, and people are generally happy for his success. However, even a man who refuses to let “they” sully his good times has a clear dark spot on him…
5. The mystery woman is the key
Late at night, after all Khaled’s friends go home, he will often sit in his hot tub and smoke a cigar or listen to reggae music (he’s a big fan of Buju Banton, which I can get behind). However, he’s not always alone.
There’s a woman in Khaled’s life who, through Khaled’s need to document his whole life, shows us a very dark side of his life.
Khaled will talk to her about how he is providing for them and he wants her to be happy, but the mystery woman generally just asks him to leave her alone. He refers to her as “Baby,” but she is constantly requesting that he not put her on Snapchat.
I’m not sure who this woman is: she could be his girlfriend or some kind of live-in companion for hire, but she clearly resents his new found success with Snapchat and the change that brings to his and her relationship.
She’s physically trying to separate herself from him in the above video, and often yells at him to stop filming.
This woman, to me, serves as a reminder of the power of reality. For all his positive messages and his “I did it, you can too” mentality, the world can’t always work that way. Everyone else in Khaled’s life is content to spout their catchphrase like the “poor player” of Shakespeare’s soliloquy, but she is not bound by the confines of image and branding. There’s going to be tension, and no amount of “Bless Up” can make that go away.
The question I have now is “where does this end?” What happens next in Khaled’s saga? I think everyone can make a guess, but only time will tell. In the mean time, take care of yourselves and always remember to Bless Up.