An album sure to be a cut banger like “Bills Paid”, is a perfect example of how it elevates a song. The track immediately stands out with its loud mix of southern, funky sounds and verses from Latto and City Girls. Khaled tells me the song started when Mark Pitts, president of RCA Records and former manager of Notorious BIG, was at Khaled’s house while dancehall star Skillibeng was recording his part for the album. Pitts played Khaled a snippet of a Latto track and “It caught my ear and it stayed in my ear,” Khaled says. “I called him two weeks later, like, ‘Yo, what’s up with that joint? I had an idea.’ Khaled had a vision for the track and asked Latto’s permission to add his own production touches to it as well as recruit another big name. The original beat flipped rapper Mr. Cheeks, but Khaled raised the bar. He added the sample of the Eddie Kendricks song, “Keep on Truckin”, which Mr. Cheeks originally used and “put in some 808s, and did of this motherfucker a higher level. Then I called the girls in town and told them I wanted them to share the verse, eight and eight. The result is a new anthem of female empowerment. “I want to have fun with [the video]says Khaled. “Records like that [only] come from time to time. »
Skillibeng, 25, from St. Thomas, Jamaica, joins four dancehall legends — Buju Banton, Capleton, Bounty Killer and Sizzla — on “These Streets Know My Name,” a union of big-name artists who even more impressive than the rap lineups that Khaled assembles. Making room for dancehall and reggae icons has been a longstanding tradition on Khaled’s albums, and it’s also worth mentioning that before he started playing me God madeKhaled composed the soundtrack for the photo shoot with “Praise Ye Jah” by Sizzla and “Magic City” by Buju.
He feels a deep connection to Jamaica. “My childhood friends were all Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican or Arab,” he recalls. “I grew up with a lot of rastas and a lot of gardeners, yeah? As a DJ and producer, I’ve been going to Jamaica since I was 15, 16. Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Sizzla and Capleton, all these big names co-signed me earlier in my career. I used to make dubplates for them and we became brothers. I used to DJ in ghettos all over Jamaica, all over Kingston. I used to soundclash. I used to do everything. I still do. It’s just very important; working with these brothers is really close to my heart.
As we cross the blue water on the bridge connecting Miami to Miami Beach, he remembers something, and pulls out his phone to open FaceTime. Moments later, Fat Joe picks up and Khaled showers him with birthday claims. In the middle of an interview (itself in the middle of a hectic album rollout schedule), he takes the time to show his love to one of his closest friends. Fat Joe asks Khaled if he would do a video message for him to post on his Instagram, and he wastes no time recording the message as soon as he hangs up. That’s what makes Khaled Khaled…Khaled. At the busiest, this hip-hop Mr. Izhiman makes time for the people he loves. That’s why Jay-Z has appeared on six albums. That’s why Future, Drake and Wayne keep coming back. This is why Jamaica icons appear. Because Khaled isn’t trying to sell them coffee.
“God always told me to keep going,” says Khaled. “When times get tough, I go harder. When times are good, I go even stronger. I don’t waste my emotions and energy backing down. I use my energy to find the solution to keep going. thing isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, trials and tribulations – instead of dwelling on it, I want to find a way to pick myself up and move on and find the solution.
We arrive at his waterfront mansion and Khaled, stoned, tired and hungry, disappears through the entrance. I step out of the front door and, without realizing it, make effortless eye contact with my Lyft driver. God had to do that too.
Photographs of Siggy Owho Osimini
Styled by Terrell Jones
Grooming by Gianluca Mandelli