DJ Khaled used to pass his mixtapes to NBA players as a kid.
It is virtually impossible to hear DJ Khaled say something and not crack a smile. His love of life is infectious, his viral sayings are irresistible, and the music he makes (or produces or puts together or whatever you want to call it) is remarkably belt-in-the-shower friendly.
Quite simply, he radiates positivity, and he makes sure his fans have access to his viiiibes at all times. His Snapchat stories routinely run minutes long, he’s posted 118 times on Instagram in the past week, and he shows off his iconic son Asahd so much that you can’t help but feel a bit of parental love for the 10-month-old.
Perhaps more than any other celebrity, Khaled has a co-dependent relationship with his fans. They need him and he needs them, and both sides know that and both sides are okay with that. He’s on a journey through success with his fans, as opposed to for his fans. That makes him an ideal celebrity for brands to associate with.
It is thus no surprise that Xbox chose Khaled to be the first-ever guest on Xbox Live Sessions, a new interactive show on Mixer in which celebrities play new or soon-to-be released games while interacting with fans and doling out prizes. SI.com caught up with Khaled last Friday after he played the all-new Madden 18 on the first-ever Live Session to discuss sports, life, and his crippling fear of flying.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
DR: You’re always showing the fans love. What was that like for you to be able to be the first one to go on Xbox Live Sessions?
Khaled: It was great, a great experience. We got a chance to give away some prizes and that’s what it’s about, man. The more blessing you give, the more blessings you get back. I learned a lot about the keys to the game, and I got the belt today. The Xbox Belt.
DR: Always a good day when you can add a belt to your collection, no matter the kind.
Khaled: That’s right.
DR: I saw on Instagram that you just took your first flight in ten years. You said your son inspired you. What were your feelings like when the wheels left the ground? At that point, there’s really no going back.
Khaled: God is great, god is the greatest. The flight was real smooth, and it was relaxing, too. To overcome my fear was a major win for me and an accomplishment and also a blessing because I'm sure everybody has some type of fear in their life. And if we can overcome it, that's a major accomplishment.
I'm so happy. Now I can be with my son more, and travel with him instead of meeting up and having him fly in. I can be with him every second of the day.
DR: That’s the most important thing. That’s huge. So is this the kind of thing that you do once and now you can fly always? Will you still be scared?
Khaled: I'm gonna have my jitterbugs. Right now, I told the team—I only fly when it’s blue skies. One step at a time.
I’m excited to see my fans overseas eventually. I’ve felt the love throughout the years. I haven't been overseas to actually touch them and let them know in person how much I love them.
DR: Hold up. So DJ Khaled has never been to Europe?
Khaled: I've only been there when I was kid, flying through there to go to Jerusalem around ten years old. I've never been there as DJ Khaled, no.
DR: Who you got tomorrow night—Mayweather or McGregor?
Khaled: Floyd Mayweather is my friend, and I salute him because he’s a winner. He’s won every single time and that's inspiring. So I'm gonna go with Floyd Mayweather. I feel like they both won already. They’re going to be able to provide for their families.
DR: For their children, and their children's children, and their children also.
Khaled: It's a blessing. It's gonna be exciting.
DR: You've been fortunate to be at some really cool sporting events. Does one stick out as your favorite?
Khaled: I love the NBA. I love the Miami Heat, I love being on the floor and watching the game. A lot of people don't know I was a ballboy when I was a kid, I actually worked the All-Star game, Magic Johnson's last All-Star game. I got to see Jordan play, I got a chance to throw the ball to Jordan, Charles Barkley, Shaq and the list goes on.
It was inspiring because that's when I started DJing and producing, so I got a chance to give them my mixtapes when I was a kid. Some of the NBA players remember, some of them might not. But a lot do.
DR: There's some athletes who can really rap. Any plans on asking an NBA player to get on a track. Dame Lillard is nasty.
Khaled: You know I'm all about collaborating. I'm all about making great music. If it happens, it happens. Do I have any plans at this moment? Not this second. Right now, my album went platinum and I'm grateful. So I'm out here just really touring, doing shows, getting in touch with my fans.
DR: You've become world famous for many things, but one of them is your sayings. Mottos to live by, we'll call them. If you could just choose one for the rest of your life, and you couldn't say the other ones, what is the one saying you cannot live with out?
Khaled: WE DA BEST!
DR: Has to be the original, right?
Khaled: I don't say I'm the best. It's we the best. Me, my fans, everybody that represent love and positivity and taking care of the families and greatness. It's a lot of us.