V Exclusive: DJ Khaled Talks Collabs With Kanye West, Nas, Cee-Lo; 'I'm On One;' & New Album

With his buzz-heavy single “I’m On One” already blazing the charts and a new album (We The Best Forever) due out in July, DJ Khaled is pretty much in a zone. VIBE caught up with the ubiquitous Cash Money artist and Def Jam South President to talk about whether his upcoming release will take him to new commercial levels, his collaboration with Kanye West, criticism that he’s not a real producer, and why he’s currently the best.—Keith Murphy

VIBE: Your single “I’m On One” has become one of the hottest songs in the country. A lot of the success of the track points to its enormous star-power. What does it say for your influence that you were able to get three of the biggest rappers—Drake, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross—on the same record?

DJ Khaled: Well, it’s a team. Rick Ross is my brother. I’m signed to Cash Money and I’m a label mate of Drake. And Lil Wayne has been my brother for years, and he has supported me since the beginning of my career. [“I’m On One”] is a special record obviously because it has all four of us on it. People could not imagine all of that on one record. And that’s the whole point. To pull off what can’t be pulled off. Not only that, it’s a new sound and it’s a smash!

Speaking of Ross, you have been very instrumental in his career growth to becoming a viable superstar who recently established his own label—Maybach Music Group. What comes to mind when you think about how you helped Ross break with his debut solo album 2006’s Port of Miami?

Ross was a special project. First of all, he’s from Miami and we came up together. We came from the bottom to the top. We’re best friends. To be in on the day-to-day operations at Def Jam with Ross and A&R his albums, it’s beautiful because he’s my friend. Today, he’s one of the biggest artists in the game. Every time we win it’s a different enjoyment because we know where he comes from. We make great music together and we strategize together and we put great plans together. Everything has gone perfectly when it comes to DJ Khaled and Rick Ross.

Are you surprised at Ross’ immense success given how much he had to overcome in terms of the past criticisms he went through concerning all the C.O. talk?

I’m not surprised. It’s bosses coming together and doing boss things. It’s more than just making music. It’s about taking a record to the next level. It’s about outworking the competition. Ross and myself are hard workers. The whole Maybach, Def Jam, and We The Best teams come together…it’s a team effort. I would not change anything. 

From being President of Def Jam South to your long-running radio show on Miami’s 99 JAMZ, you seem to be one of the hardest working people in the music industry. Do you feel more comfortable being an artist, a producer, executive or DJ?

I’m an artist that puts out albums. I’m an executive at Def Jam, I do radio, run a management company and run a studio. But it all falls under one umbrella: music. That’s how I became who I am. I’m gong to continue to keep doing it all because that’s how you become the biggest in the game.

There was a lot of speculation on why you decided to sign with Cash Money instead of Def Jam. Was it a hard decision to make?

No. The reason why I didn’t sign to Def Jam is because I wanted to keep my A&R/exec job in that building separate from my artist projects. When I’m on the Cash Money side I got my artist hat on and I can be just that…an artist.

So as an artist on Cash Money, do you feel any added pressure for We The Best Forever to become a commercial success with the likes of Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj putting out platinum plus albums? 

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Rapper Bobby Shmurda poses backstage at Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on October 30, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Power 105.1

Bobby Shmurda Returns Home After Serving 6 Years In Prison

After serving 6 years, Bobby Shmurda is finally out. The rapper, born Ackquille Pollard, was granted a conditional release from the New York state prison, Clinton Correctional Facility, on Tuesday morning (Feb. 23) and will serve the remainder of his 7-year sentence on parole. According to reports, Shmurda “will be under community supervision in Kings County until he completes his sentence on February 23, 2026.”

In true celebrity fashion, Shmurda was brought home in a private jet this morning. Earlier this week, Migos' Quavo told Billboard that he would do the honor of picking him up upon Bobby's release. "I'm going to get my guy. I'm personally gonna go pick up Bobby Shmurda. I'm bout to go get him. I'm gonna let him show you how I'm gonna pick him up, yessir. It's gonna be big."

And that he did.

 

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In December 2014, Shmurda was arrested at New York City's Quad Studios and was charged with conspiracy to murder, criminal possession of a weapon, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and reckless endangerment follow a two-year probe by the New York Police Department. In 2016, the former Epic Records signee and his childhood friend Rowdy Rebel accepted a plea deal and were sentenced to 7 years in prison.

“They kind of did it dirty at the end of the day,” Bobby explained in a phone interview with VIBE back in 2016. “They had offered me five (years) but then they said if I take the seven, then I’ll be taking it so that they could give Rowdy seven because they were going to offer him 12. I didn’t want my bro to do 12 years because at the end of the day, we didn’t really do nothing, but they playing dirty. So I’m going to take one for the bro.”

Now that Bobby is out, he'll be spending time with family and friends and getting his head back into creating new music. Watch his FaceTime call with his mother, Leslie, down below.

Welcome back, Bobby.

Bobby Shmurda on facetime with his mom after being released from prison pic.twitter.com/YvdaBzo1Y4

— Bobby Shmurda Updates (@bodboybobby) February 23, 2021

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Fred The Godson attends the Rhymes Over Beats Hip Hop Launch at The Griffin on March 31, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Bronx Community Celebrate Fred The Godson's Street Naming On His Birthday

Today (Feb. 22), the great MC, Fred The Godson, was honored posthumously with a street naming by his Bronx community and hip-hop industry comrades. Among the dozens of those that showed love to the rapper that passed away in April 2020 due to COVID-19 were BX native Fat Joe and Harlem repper Jim Jones. The street's South Bronx location of Leggett avenue and Kelly street will now also be called Fredrick "Fred The Godson" Thomas Way.

While snow fell heavily, the crowd of supporters and the organizers stood strong and watched as the sign was unveiled to cheers of joy. The Fred The Godson Foundation worked hard to make this day happen on what would have been Fred's 36th birthday. "Shortly after Fred’s passing, the Fred The Godson Foundation was created to carry on his legacy for his children and family, and the commitment to his dreams for the Bronx," says the foundation's mission statement. "The mission is to inspire, empower and nourish individuals, children and families in underserved communities, starting with Fred’s birthplace. The foundation will foster community unity through the common pursuit of wellness, prosperity, and opportunity."

 

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Known for having one of the most celebrated flows that included a barrage of double entendres and metaphors that were rarely matched, Fred was a respected MC with enormous skills that were able to get him featured on the famed 2011 XXL 'Freshman' class magazine cover along with Meek Mill, Mac Miller (RIP) and Kendrick Lamar. Jim Jones had some heartfelt words for the one named 'Gordo' at the ceremony, "Fred inspired me to do this music, a lot all over again. There was a time I really didn't want to do no music...and Fred would say, 'Nah, you gotta get in that booth Capo.'"

 

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The Thomas family announced thank you's and love to Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. of District 17 in the South Bronx, Bronx Borough President Ruban Diaz, NYPD's 41st Precinct, and the Bronx community for helping make the Frederick “Fred the Godson” Thomas Way street co-naming possible.

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Much respect to the legacy of the husband and father, Fred The Godson.

 

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Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Jay-Z Sells Half Stake Of 'Ace Of Spades' To Moët Hennessy In New Partnership

Jay-Z's Armand de Brignac aka Ace of Spaces has sold 50% of its stake in an acquisition by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). On Monday morning (Feb. 22), The two leading luxury spirits brands announced their new alliance which includes a global distribution agreement.

“I’m proud to welcome the Arnault family into ours through this partnership that began with Alexandre Arnault and continued with his father Bernard Arnault and Philippe Schaus, at my home in Los Angeles," said Carter in a press release. "It is a partnership that has felt familiar the entire time. We are confident that the sheer power of the Moët Hennessy global distribution framework, its unparalleled portfolio strength and its long-established track record of excellence in developing luxury brands will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further.”

Moët Hennessy's president and CEO, Philippe Schaus shared how his company has been a long-admirer of Armand de Brignac's success in the champagne and wine categories.

“Often referred to as 'Ace of Spades,' Armand de Brignac breaks barriers and reflects contemporary luxury, while preserving the traditions of the Champagne terroirs. Today, we are incredibly proud to be partnering with them and believe that the combination of our Champagne experience and international network coupled with Shawn 'JAY-Z' Carter’s vision, the strength of the Armand de Brignac brand and quality of its range of prestige cuvées will allow us to take the business to new heights across the world.”

Watch Jay-Z's sitdown interview with CNBC's Squawk Box (which aired shortly after the published announcement) where he talks about how the deal came to fruition and his growth since entering the wine and spirits space after boycotting the champagne line, Cristal back in 2006.

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