Earlier this month DJ Khaled took to TikTok to launch a “Dairy FreeStyle Challenge”. The promotion—for a coconut water/plant-based yogurt brand called Harmless Harvest—encourages participants to rap over a beat laid down by the Grammy Award-winning musician and producer. A winner will be chosen from entries submitted over the social media platform, and they’ll receive free concert tickets.
For the eminently accessible Khaled, it affords yet another way to connect with his massive fanbase. But it’s also an opportunity for him to express his dedication to a dairy-free lifestyle with his 3 million+ TikTok followers. Many of whom may not be aware that the performer pays mind to such considerations.
DJ Khaled’s most recent musical output, Khaled Khaled, hit number one on the Billboard 200 back in May. Still, he’s finding time to pursue plenty of other passions in addition to his successful day job. Namely: to promote healthier food and drink. In an exclusive interview with Forbes he sheds some light on his lifestyle beyond the beat.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Where were you posted up during the pandemic?
The whole time in Miami, for sure. That’s my home for over 27 years. That’s what I represent—305—Miami, all the way.
How did your day-to-day change throughout 2020?
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I definitely was in the studio. I put out an album that went number one. I was working on it before the pandemic. So when the pandemic came, first of all, safety first and family first. But I couldn’t believe—when they said we couldn’t go nowhere—they actually were going to give a guy like me this much time to think; to be even more greater? You’re going to give a guy like me this much time to get recharged? So I looked at the pandemic as securing the next 100 years!
And did you make any changes to your self-care regimen?
For sure. We all went through the same situation where we all sat around a lot. You gotta watch what you eat and how you eat. I was blessed to have a chef to help me maintain through the pandemic, to eat good, to eat healthy. I’m sure we all try to eat healthy. The key is that once you learn what’s healthy and what’s not healthy you learn to discipline yourself. So that even when you make mistakes, you know it. Back in the day, I was like whatever. But now when I have a cheat day I feel guilty after I eat it. That’s part of learning and growing.
So you laid out a solid plan for yourself?
I’m actually proud of myself because I maintained a certain weight that I refuse to go over. I have this number where I don’t go over. Obviously I don’t just wanna be at the number, I wanna get better and better. But I never went past that [specific] number.
How did this partnership with Harmless Harvest form?
It was natural because I was already eating their products. I’ve always been a fan without even knowing—because my chef and my queen used to bring them to the home. And I didn’t know how healthy it all was until they broke it down for me. Knowledge is key; once people understand how healthy it is—especially in my type of lifestyle—it actually works beautifully in the studio. It’s even on my rider when I do shows. It has to be waiting there for me. I want to let everyone know and to share that knowledge. It’s self-care. And if you now about Khaled…I’m about a lot of beautiful things. Even if I’m not the skinniest guy in the world, I make sure that I’m healthy.
What part of the Harmless Harvest portfolio resonates with you the most?
Man, I love the coconut water! That’s how I get connected with them. Because if you know my lifestyle, I love coconuts. Trust me, I’m not just saying it to say it: it’s incredible.
I’m on social media a lot; showing my fans the process in the studio and spreading the light. And the coconut water was always there [on the background of posts]. And I only would ever represent things that I love.
Let’s talk about this TikTok duet—and is that your preferred social media platform at the moment?
The young world they love it. I’ve always supported them through the music and I appreciate all the fans supporting my music through the TikTok. I think it’s beautiful when the fans re-create some of the songs and do dances in a positive way.
So I got a chance to do a little freestyle and the fans have a chance to freestyle back and forth. I’m not the best rapper in the world, but I can rap! And I had a great time [putting this together].
TikTok seems to be a great showcase for so many talented people out there. Do you find it to be more positive and uplifting than some of the other platforms?
All I represent is the light and love. The light and love is God and positivity. In any platform we should always put out love. Any other energy is just a waste of emotion. Even if you’re going through something that day, solution is better than dwelling on a [negative] situation. Love is the answer; love is the key. There ain’t supposed to be no other way. Especially in times like this…We need to step up, because a happier world is a better place.
How do you block out the negativity?
As parents and grownups and leaders, we have to teach. Never let nobody peer pressure you into an energy that’s not right. Never let an energy affect you where it affects you so much that you’re hurting yourself. It goes back to self-care, you have to love yourself so you can love others. Sometimes social media tears people down and that’s what we don’t want. More of us speaking up to say, ‘spread love’, is important.
So you’re not reading through the comments sections then?
Nah! And if I did and somebody said something wrong, that’s not affecting me in any way. There’s always more love than hate—always remember that. Usually the hate is so small unless you entertain it. And I don’t have the time to go into that. I got tough skin and I’m blessed. We’re winners over here—a winner from birth.
You have opportunities to work with millions of different brands. How do you ultimately land on the ones you end up partnering with?
It has to be something I want to talk about. I’m not scared to promote greatness! And when it comes down to eating healthy [Harmless Harvest] was one I connected with amazingly. And I’m just a big fan.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
All I Do Is Win!