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How DJ Khaled Rolls: Hip-Hop’s Boldest Star Shows Off His Major Keys

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As DJ Khaled careers through the midday traffic clogging New York’s Columbus Circle – one hand on the wheel of a black Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible, the other raising an iPhone to stream his exploits via Snapchat – he lays out the aggressively optimistic, blustery, motivational, tautological and oddly compelling philosophy that guides his vehicular preferences and his life in general.

“You can want a Hyundai, if that’s what you want. Me, I want a Rolls-Royce,” he explains. “I want the drop-top Dawn. I want a Wraith with stars on the roof. I want Phantoms with footrests to massage my toes. That’s what I want, and that’s because we the best.”

As the car pulls up to a stoplight, Khaled looks back at his phone. “Forbes magazine wants to talk to Billy,” he enthuses, using his latest self-assigned nickname, meant to signal his billionaire ambitions and music-chart prowess. “Billboard Billy!”

I gently note that the light has turned green.

“I was ready, my brother, I was ready,” he says, lowering his phone. “So where we going?”

He already knows, of course. We’re off to go car shopping at the Porsche and Bugatti dealerships a little farther downtown. Khaled’s career, meanwhile, is going the opposite direction: all the way up. His last two albums, Major Key, in 2016, and this year’s Grateful, have both gone to No. 1, thanks to collaborations with Drake, Rihanna and Justin Bieber. He also owns several businesses named after his We the Best catchphrase, including a record label, a publishing company and a headphone line. He collects six-figure nightly fees for DJ gigs and millions more from deals with Mentos, Champ Sports, Apple and other brands -arranged by himself and Jay-Z, who signed on as his manager last year after seeing Khaled become a social media superstar with more than 15 million followers across Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.

“What we are seeing from Khaled now is really who he is; the cameras are just capturing his natural state,” Jay-Z wrote in a section of Khaled’s new bestselling book, The Keys. “That’s why the world is so drawn to him.”

READ MORE: The World’s Highest-Paid Hip-Hop Artists 2017

With that success comes scads of cash – $24 million over the past 12 months alone – more than enough to nurture his Rolls-Royce habit. Khaled’s collection, spread across homes in Los Angeles and Miami, includes a 2017 convertible Dawn like the one he’s piloting today (“I always want to feel like I’m at home”), a 2017 Arabian-blue Wraith coupe (“It’s my everyday car”), a 2016 metallic-black Ghost sedan (“I sit in the back seat… that’s when I’m my business”) and the recently unveiled $430,000 Phantom VIII, which claims to have the “most silent” interior of any car in the world (“I’m gonna be one of the first to get it,” Khaled says proudly).

“What I love about Rolls-Royce is, you look at me, it’s like you’re looking at a Rolls-Royce,” says the bearded, barrel-chested 41-year-old Khaled. “It’s just powerful; it’s smooth; it’s iconic.”

It’s that sort of unbridled self-assurance that has fueled his steady rise and enabled his late-blooming trajectory. Born Khaled Mohamed Khaled in 1975 to Palestinian immigrants in New Orleans, he grew up in Florida, where he started DJ’ing and selling mixtapes as a teenager. Employing the fake-it-till-you-make-it ethos often celebrated in the hip-hop world, he made a down payment on a new $30,000 red BMW M3 in 1991, tricking it out with a state-of-the-art speaker system.

One day, Khaled was cruising around Miami when he started to smell smoke. He pulled over and got out of the car, thinking one of his amps might have blown. It was a good thing he did: The car soon caught on fire, he says as we weave through midtown in the Dawn. (“DJ Khaled, we the best, baby!” screams a passerby. “That’s right, we the best!” he replies, barely interrupting the flow of his story.) “The car blew up,” he continues. “No lie. Like a movie.”

For his next car purchase, Khaled scaled back considerably, buying a used Honda Civic for about $12,000. By 1995, he was gaining traction as a DJ and producer, opening for legends like Notorious B.I.G. and Nas, and he soon got himself back into an M3 – this time a blue one. “Even if I couldn’t make the payment, I just had the mentality – I gotta be in that whip,” he says. “Image is everything.”

READ MORE: The 10 Most Bankable Artists In Africa

For Khaled, that meant retiring cringeworthy aliases like Terror Squadian and Arab Attack and settling on his current nom de DJ. After hosting radio shows in Miami in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he released his first solo record, Listennn … the Album, in 2006, featuring appearances by stars such as Lil Wayne, Kanye West and John Legend. The album underscored Khaled’s primary talent – not singing, rapping or even producing, but bringing together an ensemble cast of popular performers – and went to No. 12 on the charts.

Khaled celebrated by buying a Bentley coupe and then almost immediately upgraded to a baby blue Rolls-Royce Phantom, which cost him $400,000. He supported his new hobby by churning out platinum singles such as the 2010 earworm “All I Do Is Win,” which featured T-Pain, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and Rick Ross.

“My Phantom was the hottest Phantom in the game,” he says. “After that, I didn’t stop. I’ve been Rolls-Royce ever since.”

DJ Khaled sits in the back seat of one of his three Rolls Royces with his son Asahd. (Photo by Ethan Pines for Forbes)

Khaled says the reason he loves the brand is that he feels equally comfortable driving or being driven in a Rolls; he usually has a driver operate his Ghost and pilots the Wraith himself. And, yes, there are stars on the ceiling; contrary to popular belief, it’s a standard option, not a custom request.

While some ultraluxury brands have alienated hip-hop’s new elite (in 2006, one of the executives behind Cristal champagne famously told The Economist, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it,” prompting a Jay-Z boycott), Rolls-Royce has wisely embraced its popularity among rap stars. The company sometimes provides Khaled with vehicles when he’s traveling for high-profile events, and Rolls has been rewarded with product placement in his videos and social media feeds.

“He’s an enthusiastic, evangelical Rolls-Royce owner,” says Gerry Spahn, head of communications for the Americas at Rolls-Royce, “and we’re thrilled that he wants to be associated with the best of the best.”

If Khaled’s automotive preference isn’t clear from the composition of his collection (his only luxury cars without a Flying Lady on the hood: a Cadillac Escalade and a Range Rover), he makes it clear as we pull up to the Bugatti dealership. He refuses to go inside, despite the fact that we’d planned test-drives ahead of time. (“I’d rather be in a Rolls.”) After some prodding, he agrees to visit the Porsche showroom next door.

Upon entering, I ask Khaled what he thinks of the mahogany Cayenne E-Hybrid SUV on display. “What’s that?” he inquires. I point to the vehicle next to him and explain that its motor is powered by both gasoline and electricity. His response: “I don’t know nothing about it.” We stroll through the showroom, shifting gazes from a gleaming Panamera 4 sedan to a lean Macan GTS SUV to a menacing 911 GT3 that goes from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. But he doesn’t even want to go for a test-drive.

“I’m a big boy,” he says. “That interior got to be fit for a big boy, you know what I’m saying? … Maybe you should buy me one, and I’ll tell you how I like it after that.”

The only car Khaled really wants is the one he’s already ordered: the new Phantom, redesigned for only the eighth time since its debut in 1925. The mansion-on-wheels comes with a 7.5-liter, 563-hp, V12 twin-turbo engine, Eames-chair-inspired seats and even a dashboard “gallery” designed to accommodate slivers of bespoke artwork.

For DJ Khaled, though, it’s not just the physical appointments that inspire his loyalty to Rolls-Royce. The company impressed him, he explains, by sending him a free Rolls-branded child seat when his son, Asahd, was born last winter.

“When he turns 16,” Khaled says, “I’m getting him a Rolls-Royce out the gate.” – Written by 

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HUGO BOSS Partners With Porsche To Bring Action-Packed Racing Experience Through Formula E

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Brought to you by Hugo Boss

HUGO BOSS and Porsche have partnered to bring an action-packed racing experience to the streets of the world’s major cities through Formula E.

Formula E is known for its fascinating races globally. The partnership will have a strong focus on the future of motorsport. In doing so the races will host a unique series for the development of electric vehicle technology, refining the design, functionality and sustainability of electric cars while creating an exciting global entertainment brand.

HUGO BOSS which boasts a long tradition of motorsports sponsorship – has been successfully engaged in the electric-powered racing series since the end of 2017.

In this collaboration, HUGO BOSS brings its 35 years of experience and expertise in the motorsport arena to Formula E, as well as the dynamic style the fashion brand is renowned for.


Alejandro Agag (Formula E CEO) and Mark Langer (HUGO BOSS CEO)

Mark Langer HUGO BOSS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that though they have been working successfully with motorsports over the years, he is exceptionally pleased that as a fashion brand they are taking the cooperation to new heights.

“As a fashion brand, we are always looking at innovative approaches to design and sustainability. When we first encountered Formula E, we immediately saw its potential and we are pleased to be the first apparel partner to support this exciting new motorsport series,” he says.

The fashion group is also the official outfitter to the entire Porsche motorsports team worldwide.

The fascination with perfect design and innovation, along with the Porshe and Hugo Boss shared passion for racing, inspired Hugo Boss to produce the Porsche x Boss capsule collection.

Its standout features include premium leather and wool materials presented in the Porsche and HUGO BOSS colors of silver, black and red.


Porsche x BOSS: introducing a new collaboration | BOSS

Since March, a range of menswear styles from the debut capsule collection is available online and at selected BOSS stores. In South Africa the first pieces of the capsule will come as a part of the FW 19 collection.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Formula E says he is confident that the racers will put their best foot forward on the racecourse.

“This new partnership will see the team on the ground at each race dressed with a winning mindset and ready to deliver a spectacular event in cities across the world. As the first Official Apparel Partner of the series, we look forward to seeing the dynamic style and innovation on show that BOSS is renowned for,” says Agag.


Hugo Boss x Porsche  

Oliver Blume CEO of Porsche AG says Formula E is an exceptionally attractive racing series for motorsport vehicles to develop.

“It offers us the perfect environment to strategically evolve our vehicles in terms of efficiency and sustainability. We’re looking forward to being on board in the 2019/2020 season. In this context, the renowned fashion group HUGO BOSS represents the perfect partner to outfit our team.”

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Taking A Bite Out Of Africa

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Hungry in London with a stomach dreaming of home? From the smoky to the sensory, the city offers distinct African culinary encounters.

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Champagne And Caviar In Private At 30,000FT

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The glamorous world of private jets is no longer the domain of the super-rich. Private aviation is set to soar in Africa as business keeps checking in.

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