DJ Khaled May Be The Key Reason Big Pun & Fat Joe’s Twinz (Deep Cover 98) Became A Hit (Video)
In 2004, the Terror Squad released #1 single “Lean Back.” With verses by Fat Joe and Remy Ma, T.S. shouted out DJ Khaled. Outside of Miami, Florida, the DJ, radio personality, and producer (of the alias “Beat Novacane”) was not a known name in the mainstream. In 2016, Khaled Mohamed Khaled has become a brand—appearing in ads, guesting on an assortment of shows, and gearing up for his ninth album, Major Key (July 29).
Speaking with HOT 97’s Ebro In The Morning Show, Khaled goes back to his Hip-Hop roots, long before his 2006 debut album, and nine Top 40 charting hits.
After a lengthy discussion on inspiration, motivation, and Khaled’s keys to success, he goes backwards. Around 18:50, the New Orleans, Louisiana native begins praising one of his mentors in the game, and onetime Terror Squad band-mate. “Fat Joe’s a big part of my life and career. He shouted me out on a lot of records.” Khaled says that he pleaded with Joe to bring the DJ’s work to the attention of Koch Records (n/k/a eOne) head Alan Grunblatt. With eOne/Terror Squad Records, Khaled released four albums, beginning with 2006’s Listennn… The Album. All four efforts were Top 20 debuts, signaling a change in the label once home to KRS-One and others. “He made ‘Lean Back’ in my garage.” Recorded in Miami, Florida, Khaled’s early studio was named Jerusalem. “Remy Ma came to the house, stopped the record and said—’I gotta get on it.’ I was there!” Khaled also says he watched that hit being made, starting with the Scott Storch track. “I [saw] the beat getting made. [Fat Joe] did three verses. It was Joe’s record, and Remy Martin said ‘no way.'” Remy asked Khaled’s engineer to mute Joe’s second verse and took the spot. “She just ripped it up, and that’s the family.”
Khaled continues about his rich history with T.S. He believes a conversation he had with Fat Joe lead to “Twinz (Deep Cover 98)” appearing on Pun’s Capital Punishment debut. “I remember when Joe played me ‘Twinz’ in a Lexus, in Miami. He played it for me, like, ‘Yo, this is gonna be on a mixtape or somethin’.’ I said, ‘Huh?! This record right here is the record!’ Joe and Pun performed it at my birthday party before Pun was Pun; I got footage of that.” Outside of Joe, Khaled would maintain his own ties to the late Bronx, New York lyricist. “I gotta find this DAT…Big Pun, I went to his house in the Bronx, and he freestyled over ‘Victory’ [by Puff Daddy & The Family] for like an hour. While he was freestylin’ for an hour, he fell asleep.” Asked if he interrupted the Loud Records star’s sleep, he answers, “I just waited ’til he woke up; that’s my brother!” Of another hit, the DJ says, “I was there when he was creatin’ ‘Still Not A Player’.…[Fat] Joe walked in and gave him a car and big check that day. I remember these moments; they’re inspiring to me. I’m Hip-Hop, bro!”
Near the 30:00 mark, Khaled uncovers some of his ties to Hip-Hop legends of the 1990s. “Guru was my guy. You know I made an album before I made [Listennn… The Album], right? I made an album before anybody knew who I was, with all the biggest stars at that time—never came out. And I have the reels. I’m talking about, I made records with Guru [during the height of Gang Starr]. I made records with Wu-Tang [Clan], KRS-One, Bone [Thugs-n-Harmony] before anybody knew who I was.” In the discussion, Khaled details the Miami recording session with the late Guru.
Bigging up Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and later, Greg Nice, Khaled says he has a four-hour freestyle with KRS-One, on wax. (34:00) “On everything I love, [it is true]. I have on it a dub-plate. I have to find it.” He adds, “Literally, I had KRS-One freestyling for four hours. And I was throwing the dopest beats ever—cuttin’ up beats, and he wouldn’t stop. This man was going so hard. This man is one of my favorite rappers of all time.”
Once a pirate radio DJ around the clock in Miami, the mix-master was given his major station break by 2 Live Crew’s Uncle Luke. (37:00) He recalls competing against Redman in an early 1990s Orlando, Florida DJ competition. Khaled also touches on his ties to Biggie Smalls, including DJ’ing for him with Ron G. “I was there, man. I did all this stuff…I used to give beats to Clark Kent to give to Biggie.”
Khaled also discusses meeting Lauryn Hill and reveals an important part she played with respect to Major Key. “Speaking of Miss Hill, I want to thank her for clearing a major key—a major sample for my album.” Elaborating, Khaled reveals, “The song Nas is on is called ‘Nas Album Done.’ That’s what I titled the song. The sample is ‘Fu-Gee-La.’ Your boy Nas goin’ in!”
Nas and Lauryn worked together on 1996’s “If I Ruled The World,” the same year “Fu-Gee-La” released. Both Nas and The Fugees were flagship acts on Columbia/Sony Records at the time.