“Support Your Local Ghetto”
That's what DJ Khaled's shirt read beneath a flashy, jingling gold chain as he strutted and sipped from a red mystery drink onstage at the Revolution Live Wednesday night. He was the guest of honor for FM radio's 99.1 Jamz' first-ever Uncensored party.
It was all very fitting, because that was the station that first put him on, and it was the support of Tri-County area neighborhoods that grew him into the larger-than-life presence he is today.
“I convinced them to let me do the night show,” he boasted in a pre-performance sit-down interview, “And look how far I got from the night show to where I'm at now. Another one.”
The crowd was all cheers whenever the DJ/Producer dropped a “Khaledism,” and they went extra-crazy when he mentioned his new local restaurant chain, Finga Licking. From what we gather, the red velvet cake is to-die-for.
In the same interview, they went on to discuss Khaled's Grammy win for Best Collaboration on “I'm So Hood,” and his strange lack of following nominations. They talked old catchphrases from back in the day at his Five O'Clock Traffic Jam start, and even the Nine O'Clock Shut Down show. When they asked about his first day at 99 Jamz, Khaled flipped the script and instead talked about his first day on radio ever, the day Uncle Luke introduced him to pirate radio.
“There was 100 people in the studio, 100 people outside, people on the highway trying to get into the station, and we was just going bad,” he said. “It was uncensored but censored, and the show was so hot they had to get rid of the show. Luke, you know, that's an icon. He was touring, and he's got so many great ventures. And me? I was high-risk, meaning when the show got done I was like, 'Can I still work here?' And they were like 'Khaled, you're crazy.' I was like 'very crazy.'”
They swapped stories about when Khaled would be in the 99 Jamz booth going in hard and just take his shirt off.
“I'm a sex symbol,” the producer said. “Remember when I used to say, 'Yo Marly, lock the doors, chain the doors, don't let the program director in. I'm going in'? I didn't want to cut to commercials.”
It was kind of a joke, but apparently, Khaled really did have to work hard to earn his keep.
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“I was told that I would never have the night show ever in my life,” he said in his characteristically dramatic fashion. “I was told that in my face. I couldn't believe it. And from that day, I promised myself I would prove everyone wrong. Not only did I get the night show, it was the number one night show. Can we talk business right quick? It's called numbers. Everyone wanted to advertise on the night show. It's called ratings. It's called shout-out to the sales team. It's called commission. It's called, 'Hey Khaled, would you like some water if you're on air?'”
“I'm humble when I say this,” he continued. “What I'm trying to show you is, don't get distracted if somebody tells you no, because there will be a time that you'll succeed. All you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself, and I promise you, the powers that be is going to support you.”
They fielded questions from the audience before heading into the performance portion of the night, and the crowd was delighted when, instead of heading behind the booth to mix a few hits, Khaled took to the mic to rap along to the tracks with his fans.
He started with “All I Do is Win,” screaming “Sing my shit” as the DJ cut out the music completely and allowed the crowd to give an a capella version of the chorus. He teased some lines from “Take it to the Head” before going into a musically-backed version of “Hold You Down,” the first single from his recently released, star-studded eighth LP, I Changed A Lot.
Khaled worked through “I'm So Hood” and “I'm On One” before making way for a couple of new We Da Best artists to have their shine. Steph Lecor gave a tight performance of her hit “Saturday,” and Kent Jones gave a truly impressive rendition of an unknown jam followed by an upbeat performance of “Don't Mind.” The crowd sang along to both new artists' jams, proving that DJ Khaled does in fact have an ear for great new talent, something for which he credits his time in radio.
In fact, he credits his whole career to his time on radio with 99 Jamz. It gave him the space to make a name, the chance to build relationships with up-and-coming rappers and singers who then went on to become the giant stars on his singles today. It's been a long road, studded with hits and catch phrases and “all this jerly,” and it was cool to see Khaled commemorated in a setting that made him so nostalgic. It goes without saying, it's only the beginning of 99 Jamz Uncensored events, but when it comes to a character like DJ Khaled, there could never be “another one.”