DJ Khaled Wants Masking Up and Peace in the Middle East
The Palestinian-American hitmaker talks to us about his BLESSWELL wellness brand, beating COVID, his devout Muslim faith, and his thoughts on Israel and Palestine.
“Peace and love, brother. Peace and love, you know what I mean?!” exclaims DJ Khaled by way of introduction.
Over three decades in the industry, the Grammy-winning DJ and record producer has churned out a number of chart-topping hits, from “All I Do Is Win” to “Wild Thoughts” to “Popstar,” while preaching a gospel of positivity (his self-help book, The Keys, was a New York Times bestseller). DJ Khaled, 45, has released a grand total of 12 studio albums, cameoed in films like Bad Boys for Life, and even designed his own luxury furniture line.
His latest venture is BLESSWELL, a line of CBD-enhanced grooming products that include beard oil, facial moisturizers, body wash, and even a charcoal face mask. And the brand is currently in the midst of the GROOMED X BLESSWELL pop-up tour, which is making stops in 12 cities across the country, starting in Chicago and ending in Miami Beach during Art Basel. The pop-ups will provide people with “an immersive, ultra-luxe self-care experience” courtesy of celebrity barbers.
The Daily Beast spoke with DJ Khaled, clad in a flashy two-tone silk Prada shirt, about his new venture, making hits, and that whole no-oral-sex thing.
First of all, I like the Prada shirt.
Thank you. Thank you. I wear white tees and Jordan shorts every day, you know what I mean? So, I put a little collared shirt on, because I’m proud of myself. I’m Prada myself.
[Laughs] I saw you post last month that you recovered from COVID. How are you doing now? And what was that battle like?
God is the greatest. Me, my wife and my whole family—my kids—we all good now. For me personally, the first three, four days were mentally and physically a lot. Bless up the doctors. I just had to weather the storm, and it was a blessing. I’m with God, and He love us, so we weathered it. But I want people to know: it’s real out there. Mask up, be safe, and let’s keep our guards up. I feel all of us put our guards down. I caught it and I was the most cautious person ever—or at least I thought I was. You come to my house, you gotta get tested. Those are the rules out here. If I go to any set to work, everybody gotta be tested, because I got kids. That’s how cautious I was, and I still got it. So, mask up, stay prayed up, and let’s keep our guard up.
You said the first three, four days were a lot. How bad did it get?
You know… we here. But those first three days were symptoms that you don’t want. Besides the physical part of it, it’s the mental. It’s a lot. Mask up, man. I want this to go, and we gotta protect our kids, you know what I mean?
Let’s talk about the GROOMED X BLESSWELL pop-up tour. How did you get involved in this venture?
Well, you know I’m all about love and I’m all about self-care, so I’m definitely about wellness. No matter what we do, we always gotta take care of ourselves. BLESSWELL, just like the name of the product, BLESSWELL, love well, live well or time will tell. So, we’re here to be timeless. But at the same time, we’re blessed from Earth. All of us. So, it’s only right to take care of ourselves, embrace that blessing, and take care of our skin, our grooming. That should be part of the same routine as taking a shower, brushing your teeth. Wake up and be great.
That can be a struggle.
Every time I used to go on vacation, I’ll never forget when there’s the outside shower, and you don’t even know what the product is. It smells different, it feels different, you put on the body lotion, you shave, and you put a white tee on, and you got the lobster sitting there. It’s a vibe. So, what I wanted to do was take that vacation experience and make it an everyday routine, so I made sure the scent is the island breeze. It’s a vibe, brother. And the pop-up shop, what I love about it is that you get a personal grooming experience.
Some of the BLESSWELL products are infused with CBD, and I’m curious if you take CBD in your life. It can be good on the muscles and all that.
It’s incredible. I truly believe it’s part of healing. And these type of products, or any product that you need in your life and has CBD, I believe it’s a blessing because it’s healing. If you see what’s going on in the world right now, with lawmakers and everything, this is an everyday topic. So, this greatness that’s at the forefront right now couldn’t be stopped because of the blessings of it. I’ve always been a fan of using the right products and catching that vibe.
In addition to CBD, are you a weed smoker?
No I’m not, but I don’t mind somebody smoking spliffs. It doesn’t bother me and I’ve got nothing against it at all, but at the same time, you gotta be responsible, because we gotta let the young world know they can be great. But I’ve been to Jamaica, and of course I gotta catch that vibe the way they catch it—and embrace it. That’s why I use the word “healing,” because when everything’s done properly, it’s a vibe, a meditation, embracing greatness. That’s when I like using that.
Obviously, the pandemic’s been tough on everybody to varying degrees. What have you done to loosen up and keep that “vibe.”
Whenever I get a haircut or a shape-up or a mani-pedi, I always feel relaxed. But my No. 1 thing is meditation with God, praying. But at the same time, it’s beautiful to feel good. You know, let’s keep it real: everybody loves taking a beautiful shower, you got the fresh haircut, you put the right lotion on, you got the mani-pedi—you feel incredible. And that’s the way you’re supposed to feel every day, you know what I’m sayin’?
You’re a Palestinian guy and I’m a Jewish guy, so we’ve got some hair. What are DJ Khaled’s grooming tips for men?
For me, when I got with BLESSWELL it felt so good because I got the beard, I got the glow from God, and I love lotion. Every day I put lotion on. When I shave, my skin is sensitive. But I love shaving—even when there are no hairs or little hairs, because my hair grows so fast—so my favorite part of the products is the shaving.
Your chest is looking pretty smooth though, did you get some of that lasered off?
[Begins slowly unbuttoning his shirt] I gotta a hairy chest now! Mine’s a vibe, don’t get it twisted! I tell the ladies every day, “I’m taken! I’m a trophy! We blessed!” I’m lucky to have a queen.
I know you got a lot of crap for this, so I wanted to ask you about the whole oral sex thing. I’m curious why you don’t perform it?
I… I love my queen from head to toe my brother, you know what I’m saying? I love her from head to toe. I love my wife from head to toe. I LOVE YOU BABY! From head to toe. I’m a father now, so I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to talk about stuff like that. But I love my boys. And to answer your question, I love my queen from head to toe.
I know your catchphrase is “We the Best,” so I’m curious what you feel makes you the best at what you do?
Well, my catchphrase is “we” the best—not you, not I, but we. That’s the catchphrase and the brand, and “We the Best” means be great every day. When you look in the mirror, give thanks to God and be great. And that’s why “We the Best” represents everyone.
You mentioned praying and your relationship with God, and I know you’re a devout Muslim, so I’m curious how you’ve managed to negotiate Islam with the hip-hop lifestyle? Has that ever been difficult for you?
It’s not a negotiation. God is the greatest. You don’t ever negotiate with God. We represent love, and when you believe in God and represent love, that’s the greatest blessing. I love hip hop and I love God. Hip hop is beautiful and great, and God is the greatest. I love God. I’m God’s child. And I represent hip hop, because I am hip hop. I represent greatness. I represent being a father and a family man, because I have two beautiful boys. I represent love. That’s what we represent.
Looking back on your journey, is it true that you first got hooked up with Lil Wayne and Birdman all the way back in 1993?
Man, I’ve been knowing Cash Money from the very start—I think even before ’93! Those are my brothers and I’m inspired by everything they’ve done in hip hop, it’s just incredible. The other day, actually, I was jet-skiing and Lil Wayne saw me on the jet ski and texted me and said, “Hey Khaled, was that you on the jet ski?” and I was like, “Yeah, that was me on the ski.” And that’s Lil Wayne: the icon.
So, you went by his house on a jet ski?
I mean, I was jet-skiing. I don’t know where he was—if it was a house, a yacht or whatever. All I know is he saw me. But it’s a blessing to know those brothers.
I think there’s some confusion as to what you do when it comes to putting together hits. What do you do?
I do everything. I’m one of the greatest DJs, one of the greatest producers, one of the greatest artists. I’m blessed to wear many hats. I’m a music man, a music executive, have 12 albums out, and run brands and record companies. I run my record company—but we’re more than a record company, we’re a lifestyle brand. I’m a father. I’m blessed. There are so many hats that I wear, and I put my best foot forward every time to be one of the greatest.
I’ve heard they call you “the peacemaker” in the studio, so are you the one who, when things are getting too heated, gets everyone back to a chill place?
I mean, I represent love, so anyone working with me knows it’s always love. And I’m always going to be the big brother no matter what. So, if you come here to make music, you know that it’s all about love. We’re always going to be promoting love and peace and happiness.
You’re probably the most popular Palestinian artist in the world, so I wanted to ask you this because it’s an issue close to my heart. How do you feel about the situation over there, and how Palestinians are being treated by the Israeli government?
We want peace worldwide, so of course we want peace in Palestine. At the end of the day, I don’t get into politics. I get into people, and the love, and peace. And we want world peace. There’s a lot going on in this world, and we have to spread love—not just for ourselves, but for our kids. So, we want peace in the Middle East, we want peace in America, and we want peace everywhere. We pray that more of us come together and unify, and the more love we spread the more solutions we’ll get, because people are so beautiful.