The Arab-American musician and producer is known for working with a huge list of star talent, but what was his first song?
DJ Khaled’s first song was called Holla At Me, and featured as the first track on his debut album, Listennn… the Album.
Read on to learn more about the musical background of DJ Khaled.
Flat Broke to Big Bucks
In retrospect, DJ Khaled is an impressive rags to riches tale. His life today may be star studded and interwoven with millions of dollars of riches, but he had humble beginnings. He was born in 1975, in New Orleans, to parents that had just immigrated to the United States.
His parents were from Palestine, and had come across to the States in the early seventies. They raised DJ Khaled as a Muslim, a religion he still abides by today. Reportedly, when DJ Khaled’s parents arrived in the United States, they had just twenty dollars to their name.
They worked hard to build a living, selling clothes from a stall in flea markets. When Khaled was a child, he would often help his parents. Allegedly, they would work all hours of the day, every day, to make ends meet. In an interview in 2017, DJ Khaled stated: “If I wanted to hang out with my mother and father, I had to hang out with them hustling.”
As Khaled grew up, he gravitated towards music. His parents were always playing Arabic music, but he felt the pull towards rap and hip-hop. When his family moved to Orlando, Florida, he began pursuing music in earnest.
At the age of just thirteen, he started learning how to DJ. His parents supplied him with the necessary equipment, and he began practicing in his garage. However, it was around this time that things would start to collapse for the family.
They landed themselves in hot water with the IRS, and had to relocate back to New Orleans. They were broke once again. Almost by chance, Khaled found a job working for a record label in New Orleans. This enabled him to meet some up and coming names in the industry, such as Lil Wayne.
Khaled remained dedicated to his dream, and moved back to Florida – Miami – before he was twenty. He began DJ’ing wherever he could, and eventually transitioned into radio DJ’ing. This is where the career really kicked off, and his voice became known.
In 2006, he partnered with a long list of collaborators to produce his first album: Listennn… the Album. This setlist featured his very first song: Holla At Me. By this point, history was already being made. You can listen to this breakout track on YouTube, below.
As Khaled encroached more and more into the music industry, he began working with huge names. His natural talent and affinity for sound shone through, and many wanted to collaborate with him.
In 2009, he became the president of a recording label, Def Jam South. His hit single, All I Do Is Win, launched in the following year. This track featured the likes of Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. As time went on, he would produce album after album, pairing up with artists such as Drake and Jay-Z.
Much of his success is attributed to his tangible social media acumen. He has a staggering number of followers on social media, and knows how to start a trend. He posts regularly on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and knows what the fans love.
Although, his rise to success was a strange one. As an article in 2016 pointed out: “He’s released eight full-length albums but doesn’t actually rap on any of them.” He creates the base tracks, invites the collaborators and creates lyrics, but doesn’t actually perform the songs.
It doesn’t seem to be an issue though, as by 2020 DJ Khaled was worth a reported sixty million dollars. Now, that’s success.