Exclusive: DJ Khaled explains his respect for RZA and Run DMC at BMI's "How I Wrote That Song," reflects on his own accomplishments.
In a dark room located in the downstairs area of Los Angeles’ Key Club, members of the press are beginning to move upstairs. The room was just bustling with energy; it is now quieting as cameras shut off. Few are left. DJ Khaled is still present, ready for an interview with HipHopDX. He’s standing, still beaming with excitement from his recent talk with Run DMC’s Rev Run, a man he’s idolized and respected for years. Wearing a grey Polo sweat suit and white sneakers, he shares an image he’s taken with Rev Run, making sure it gets posted on social media networks before we begin. Still beaming, he smiles as he sees the Rev posing next to him.
It’s that sort of excitement that has allowed Khaled to succeed in this culture, enthusiasm heard often in his adlibs. His various albums have birthed singles like “All I Do Is Win” and “I’m So Hood,” chart toppers that dominated radio play when they were released. His latest hit, the Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne assisted “I’m On One,” was nominated for a Grammy Award and it has allowed his streak of hit collaboration-heavy songs to continue. It’s that excitement that also has others asking to work with him, including RZA.
As the interview gets started, we are respectfully interrupted by a brief greeting from RZA, who is also present for BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” event. “We gotta do [a song],” RZA says, shaking Khaled’s hand. “I want to jump on one.” Khaled is also poised to work with RZA. “Absolutely, absolutely,” he replies. “I’m like 80% into my project now [Kiss the Ring] but I think I’ve got a crazy idea for you.” Khaled would later share that he and RZA have a long-standing connection. “When I was a kid, [RZA’s cousin and Sunz of Man member] Prodigal [Sunn] used to give my beats to RZA to let him hear my stuff,” he explained. As RZA walked away, the interview began.
HipHopDX: Your excitement for the culture is quite evident. Your respect for the culture is there as well. So acknowledging the history that Rev Run and RZA have, what does being a part of BMI’s “How I Wrote This Song” with them mean to you?
DJ Khaled: That’s RZA from Wu Tang! For him to say that he wants to do some stuff with me is a blessing. He was a major influence on me as a producer and as an artist. He was a visionary. He was ahead of his time. He was so left field with his beats but they were so amazing. They’re timeless! You could listen to them now, from “Triumph” to “C.R.E.A.M.” and it’s just classic. It’s a blessing, man.
DX: Going to the tracks that we’re discussing today, particularly with Rev Run and RZA, what are some of the cuts that resonate with you the most from their discographies?
DJ Khaled: On Rev Run’s situation, I would say “Peter Piper” is my favorite record of all time, actually. As a deejay, I used to love to cut it up and I still love to cut it up. The production, the breaks, from the intro, to [rhyming as Run], “Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good!” You know, that’s not a regular song. That’s a real special song. I’m excited. I might even ask him a few questions!
DX: …And in terms of RZA?
DJ Khaled: RZA, man, there’s too many. I love RZA’s vision. From back in the day, he has classics, tons of records. To come back and make a record [2011's "New Day" ] on [Jay-Z & Kanye West's] Watch the Throne? It had a real ill sound. It made me excited because that’s the shit I’m talking about! That’s what I’m trying to tell you! That shit’s crazy. I don’t know what type of instrument that was in that sample, but I bump that shit in the car all the time.
DX: There’s also a lot to be said about the songs you’ve got to discuss today.
DJ Khaled: There are so many I love of mine, because I feel like I’m making great music and timeless music. But, each record I’ve made has something special that was special to me when I made it. Now, they’re all special moments but “We Takin’ Over” was a special moment because it changed my life. I’ve gotta always remember that. That moment was special.