Interview: DJ Khaled Discusses ‘I Changed’ Album, Losing Weight, Chris Brown Collabo

“I will be on that VIBE cover and that’s on everything,” DJ Khaled recently told VIBE. With his eighth album, I Changed…A Lot in the works and his new headphone deal with Bang and Olufsen, he feels like he is worthy by now. “I been in the game so long I don’t know what I gotta do. I’m gonna keep working hard till (VIBE) see’s the vision,” he told us from his studio.

For the past eight summers, the New Orleans native has been supplying hip-hop with bangers that gives the culture new mantras to live by (do we still chant “No New Friends”?) and has shown us that when he says, “We the Best,” is more than just a phrase, it’s a lifestyle. We recently caught up with the hip-hop maven to discuss his upcoming album, his weight loss journey and who he is looking to get in the studio.

What’s going on with the music? I know you have an album coming out.
I actually have a session today with Chris Brown. I’m in the studio right now as we speak getting the music right before he walks in. I’m excited about that. I have a single out right now called “They Don’t Love You No More” featuring Jay Z, Rick Ross, Meek Mill and French Montana. It’s Top 20 on the charts right now. It’s the first single off of my eighth studio album called I Changed…A Lot. So I’m really excited about it. Just to be anthems eight summers in a row it’s an amazing blessing.

And the Chris Brown song will be on your album?
Of course. We going to make some magic tonight.

What did you think of his BET Awards performance?
I loved it. I love Chris Brown. He’s a superstar. He’s one of the best singers out there. I’m just happy for him. I’m glad he’s home and focused. He’s a hitmaker.

Are you also working on Lil’ Wayne’s Carter V?
That’s my brother. I haven’t worked on the album but I know for a fact it’s amazing. You know Wayne doesn’t working. He records every day. He’s an inspiration for me because somebody so special like that that’s works every day that’s why you see the results.

Who are you looking forward to getting into the studio?
I would love to get Rihanna on a Khaled song. That’s my friend but every time I’m around her I get shy. Next time I see her I’m just gonna say “Rihanna, what’s up? Let’s do a record together” and hopefully she’s down. I would love to work with Beyonce’ as well. I would love to work with Eminem, Dr. Dre. I wish I could have been in the studio with Bob Marley.

Who else is on the album?
Everybody. All your favorites. Everytime I do a promotion [and they ask me that] I’m like ‘c’mon guys this is my eighth album.’ You know what’s up.

So we can expect the usuals like Rick Ross, Ace Hood, Lil’ Wayne, Busta Rhymes, etc?
Thank you! And its not just about the feature, it’s about how good the song is and that’s what Khaled does. I make sure I produce a full song. Somebody can come to make a beat or rap and that’s cool and thank you but I gotta come in there and produce the whole thing. Meaning making sure we’re talking about the right thing, making sure the hook is big enough or the production is strong enough, coming up with ideas. Sometimes I come up with titles of songs before we even make the song. The title will be inspired from some words I’m saying and we end up making the record. That’s what it’s about. I don’t think it’s just about the feature, it’s about how good the record is.

I love what you did with the “Hip-Hop” song with Nas and Scarface from your Kiss the Ring album.
That’s one of my favorites too. That’s what you call very well produced. I did the Quincy Jones on with that one. I went in there and I just got the right players on it. I wanted to make a special record for the culture. I come from music like that. Those two guys are iconic and what they are talking about on that record is unbelievable.

How’s the weight loss journey going?
It’s going great. I was 300 pounds. I’m between 234 and 237 right now. That’s the reason I named my album I Changed…A Lot. I want to inspire people. When I inspire myself I want to spread the word because its important to be healthy. I don’t think they’re teaching us enough about that. I think we should eat better and exercise. Look who’s saying that, a guy who was 300 pounds but I’m doing a lot better than I used to. I’m letting people know its important because it makes you feel better. It makes you make better decisions. I’m in the studio smiling instead of being slumped over and kind of depressed. I’m in here with a bounce.

Was Fat Joe an inspiration for you to get healthy?
Absolutely. Fat Joe used to be big. To see him now it’s like–and he’s so happy. That guy smiles every day. That was definitely an inspiration and there’s a few people out there that inspire me. Besides being inspired you have to do it. It’s your health.

Do you have a trainer or you work out on your own?
I do it myself but I also have a trainer His name is Mark Jenkins. He’ll come in and keep me focused but when he’s not around I still gotta do what I gotta do.

Have you and Rick Ross been working out together?
He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s focused. We’re a family so we inspire each other. We gotta uplift each other. He seen me working out so it’s only going to rub off and once we all do it, it’s on.

What was that moment you had when you knew you had to lose weight?
When I was in the hospital. It was last year around November. I was on the road for damn near a year and I would go home for the holidays. I went to the emergency room and they told me I had a little high blood pressure. It wasn’t too crazy but they did all types of tests and they kept me for like two days and it turned into three days and I’m like ‘man, this is crazy.’ They came back good but they wanted me to take like certain medication and I told them ‘I’m not taking that. I know what I gotta do. I got the answer.’ When I left that day I said “Let me change my eating, get in that gym and let me be focused’ because I care about myself and my family that depends on me.