It’s no surprise that at this very moment in time, DJ Khaled is one of hip-hop’s most notable characters. Sure, he may not actually rap, sing or make beats but Khaled has undeniably managed to become one of our culture’s most prominent figures. You literally can’t look anywhere in the digital realm without hearing or seeing DJ Khaled. Whether it’s on the radio, on your timeline or most likely in your favorite meme; Khaled is everywhere.
Often times, however, Khaled catches heat for being such an impactful player in the rap game. The fact that he doesn’t actually add anything tangible to the songs he “puts together” can rub some people the wrong way. This is somewhat understandable but if you look at the bigger picture, Khaled actually holds a very unique power when crafting songs.
His ability to bring an incredibly wide variety of artists and producers together is truly unrivaled. I mean, where else are you going to see Nas on the same album as T-Pain? So even though he may not be the one putting pen to paper or words to mic, he is without doubt the mastermind orchestrating these massive records. Said records have gone on to become some of the biggest rap anthems we have ever seen. Even if you aren’t a Khaled fan, you know the chorus to at least one of his songs; minimum.
With that said, Khaled’s reach extends from Compton to Calcutta and everywhere in between. These days, even with the Internet, it’s hard for a hip-hop artist to make that much of a guaranteed impact almost immediately. Whenever Khaled drops an album, better yet a single, most people at least give it a try. So in knowing this, when rappers get called upon to lend their talents to a Khaled single, they usually come well equipped. Whether it’s a hook, a verse or even a drum pattern, artists bring their best to a Khaled song.
Some verses on Khaled songs have been so good that they have actually managed to propel an artist’s career exponentially forward. The strength of the verse coupled with the impact of the song itself has launched the artist’s career into a different stratosphere. Since Khaled has been putting out albums steadily since 2006, with his latest release dropping just last week, there have been plenty of career artists who cut their teeth on Khaled tracks. So in celebration of Khaled’s eighth studio album dropping this past week, here are eight career launching verses on DJ Khaled songs.
Lil Wayne – “We Takin Over”
There are only a few notable hot streaks in recent memory that have shown a single rapper’s out right dominance for an extended period of time. Most would consider 50 Cent’s 2003-2005 run as the epitome of a hot streak in hip-hop but nothing is more uncontested than Lil Wayne’s run. Between 2006 and 2008 there was no one is music hotter than Lil Wayne. Coming off a slew of critically acclaimed mixtapes and albums, Wayne was blazing the charts and the streets. He was also gaining notoriety as a featured artist but he didn’t necessarily have anything show stopping. It wasn’t until his verse on DJ Khaled’s anthem “We Takin Over” that his whole year changed. His closing sixteen bar verse was easily the best of the song and perhaps the best of that entire album. He managed to squeeze in about half a dozen quotable lines that still ring off to this day. From then on out, Weezy was everywhere. He was getting features left right and centre. It got to a point in the months leading up to the release of Tha Carter 3 that if you wanted to stay relevant in urban music, you needed to have Lil Wayne on your single. C3 went on to sell a million copies in the first week. Of course his verse on “We Takin Over” isn’t the sole reason for the album’s success but it definitely attracted a few more listeners.
Ace Hood – “Standing On the Mountain Top”
If there is one rapper who has directly benefited from being featured on Khaled records, it’s Ace Hood. Ace, until recently, has been almost exclusively tied to the We The Best brand in turn giving Khaled most of his standout performances. On the intro to 2008’s We Global, Ace delivered the verse of his life. The track entitled ‘Standing on the Mountain Top’ was the first time Ace was ever featured on a Khaled song and he definitely made the most of it. It is essentially the verse you hear on the album and showcases Ace Hood’s rapid fire delivery and knockout punchlines. Had it been wack, Khaled might have sat Ace back on the bench but seeing as it was regarded as one of the album’s better verses; Ace was kept in the game. Since then Ace has been a staple on any Khaled album while maintaining his own level of individual success.
Rick Ross – “Holla at Me”
DJ Khaled’s first ever “hit” was off his very first studio album all the way back in 2006. The track was called “Holla at Me” and featured a star-studded line up of rappers. The most standout verse however, came from none other than Rick Ross. While everyone else on the track follows the same flow, Ross attacks it with a choppy delivery that seems super glued to the rolling drums. Those bubbly sounds of the beat met with his thunderous delivery work as the perfect sonic experience. Also, the track dropped literally weeks before “Hustlin” – so while you are hearing Ross on a smash of his own, you are hearing him shine on another smash hit simultaneously. Port of Miami went on to sell just shy of 200,000 copies its first week and in all honesty, I can’t think of a Khaled hit since then that hasn’t featured Ross.
Consequence – “Grammy Family”
Every now and again, Khaled will have a track or two on his albums that are more than just street anthems. There are times where he will recruit some of rap’s most lyrically gifted artists and let them bring a little more substance to the fold. On “Grammy Family” Consequence does just that. The song and more specifically his verse are standouts on the entire album. Lines like “I started independent with owners from land speed/But now they recognize the way they did for Sam Sneed” are worthy of a screwface or instant playback. He also manages to keep the same multisyllabic rhyme scheme for the majority of the 24 bar verse. His verse and the song were so good that it was actually also placed on Consequence’s debut album as the lead single. To this day, that is still by far Consequence biggest song.
Pitbull – “Born N Raised”
Believe it or not, Pitbull didn’t always make EDM records with the likes of Ke$ha. There was a time when Mr. 305 used to sling some pretty nice lines. One of those time being on Khaled’s “Born-N-Raised”. “Born-N-Raised” was off Khaled’s debut album and was released as the second official single. The track had an extremely southern vibe that felt authentically “Miami”. Before his involvement with Khaled in the earlier days, Pitbull had gained a fair amount of local buzz thanks to his debut LP clocking in number 14 on the U.S. Billboard 200. However, his stock grew immensely after the world heard his hyperactive verse on Born-N-Raised. Switching from English to Spanish on the turn of a dime, Pitbull perfectly executed his verse. This verse was more than likely one of the reason Pitbull even made it to a second album because similar to Consequence, “Born-N-Raised” was one of the lead singles on his that second solo album.
Plies – “I’m So Hood”
Remember the short span in time where Plies was everywhere in hip-hop? He was right on the cusp of becoming the next “it” guy thanks to of course a solid solo debut but also thanks to his placement on one of Khaled’s highest charted singles to date; “I’m So Hood”. This track came off 2007’s We The Best and continues to be one of, if not the most recognizable Khaled song of all time. Usual suspects T-Pain, Trick Daddy and Rick Ross all lend their rhymes to this track but Plies is easily the man to beat. Perhaps it’s his raw delivery or maybe just the perfect type of record for Plies but either way fans took notice. His own lead single “Shawty” lost a ton of steam by the end of that summer and “Hypnotized” didn’t catch until the end of the year; “I’m So Hood” was the perfect filler. When his album dropped less than a month later it shot to the top of the charts. The strength of “I’m So Hood” without doubt pushed the more casual rap fan to peep Plies’ project.
August Alsina – “Hold You Down”
A more recent breakout performance on a Khaled song didn’t come from a rapper but one of R&B’s most promising acts. August Alsina got some major looks after singing alongside Chris Brown, Jeremih and Future on “Hold You Down”. Not only was this one of Khaled’s best performing songs commercially but also one of his most untraditional. To say that August has a full on “verse” would be a bit of a lie. Instead he joins in on the chorus and has a a little four bar outro that most say is the highlight of the song. He was able to showcase his obvious talent even in the midst of some of today’s best voices. When the song dropped back in August 2014, August was still the new kid on the block. For him to outshine the likes of Chris Brown and Future was fairly impressive and solidified his spot as the new prince of R&B.
Bas – “Hell’s Kitchen“
For those who listen to Khaled’s deeper album cuts, “Hell’s Kitchen” off Suffering from Success was one of the album’s best. Featuring Dreamville captain J. Cole, it was Bas who stole the show. This was, for all intents and purposes, Bas’ first real show and prove moment outside of Dreamville. It may not have been on the banger-radio-single that gets the most spins but it sure did count for something. For those who listened to the album front to back would have a tough time arguing that any other verses trumped his. Lines like “Omission’s usually, an admission to guilt/Hari Kari yourself, all the way to the hilt” and “When folks I known for years, that couldn’t pronounce my name/And asking me for pics, there’s something ‘bout this game” are so introspective it makes you question if you are actually listening to Khaled song. From then on Bas got more and more features, eventually gaining enough steam to have Last Winter crack 113 on the Billboard 200 just over a year later.