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Hello, Sternal Journalists!
Ever since DJ Khaled dropped his most recent album, Khaled Khaled, I’ve been meaning to write something about my longtime obsession with the producer, hitmaker, and walking what-does-he-do-though question mark. I keep getting to the end of the week and feeling like it’s too much to tackle on Sunday evening, but haven’t had time to get a head start on.
So, much like my feelings about the “All I Do Is Win” auteur, this baby’s gonna sprawl. It might be 3 parts. It might be 9 parts. I might do it all consecutively. I might drop in and out of it until I feel like I’ve said all I could say about it.
As with every Sternal Journal, it’ll be a rough draft and an experiment, and I’m excited to see what it becomes. Today, just an introduction.
— — —
In August of 2016, just about half a decade ago, I was in an Uber Pool heading home from somewhere I’d been drinking. That day, or that weekend, Frank Ocean’s Blonde had been released.
I knew that people had been dying for this album to come out, and/or I knew people who were dying for this album to come out. Frank Ocean is the type of musician people feel that way about.
I didn’t care much. I knew I would get around to listening to it, and that I would enjoy and/or respect it. But that night in the UberPool, maybe ten minutes before I got dropped off, two Certifiable Youngsters hopped in. They were 20 if that, 8 years my junior, and without looking at me or the driver—or each other for that matter—they asked for and received the aux chord.
They preceded to play an incredibly relaxing song at about the least relaxing volume possible. When the soothing but 11/10 volumed synth and drums were joined by a little high-pitched Alvin and the Chipmunks voice croon, “These b****es want Nikeeeees,” I remembered that one of the buzzed about singles was called “Nikes” and I knew I was finally listening to Blonde.
Not only that. I was listening to it in the best way possible. Blasted at me by way-cooler 20 year olds who were now staring sullenly out their respective windows while we all had our eardrums rattled by the modern analogue of like Ladies of the Canyon.
Not that they would have asked, but I most certainly would never have told those Official Youngs that, not only was this my first time hearing the new Frank Ocean, but the big album drop I had been most recently excited about was a few weeks prior:
DJ Khaled’s Major Key.
Many readers of the Sternal Journal most certainly know this, but I have a tendency to take seemingly random facets of pop culture and not just make them a part of my personality, but create this symbiosis out of it.
Over time, targets for my obsession have included: Chipotle, James Bond, Jackie Chan, Rush Hour 2, Phineas and Ferb, Animorphs, 2 Chainz, the Carney’s billboard featuring a hotdog on a train, and of course, DJ Khaled. Those are just the big ones I can think of off the top of my head. Sound off in the comments if I’ve forgotten any.
And I know that my obsession with these things is more than just classical fandom, but I don’t know how to prove it. I know that when a friend is telling another friend about these things, it’s described less often as, “Oh yeah, Julian’s really into DJ Khaled” so much as “Julian has like a thing about DJ Khaled.”
And that is what it is. A thing.
A thing that made me dissect all of his Snapchats for months, if not years. A thing that makes me heated when someone says he’s not talented. A thing that makes me embarrassed to have gotten heated about it, only to then further dissect and talk through with a reluctant audience my feelings about him. A thing that made me once plan an entire weekend around being able to yell his son’s name at him. A thing that made me feel the way those Frank Ocean Youngsters felt: understood by him; misunderstood by the world.
(Yeah, we’re talking about Miami party rap, but that won’t stop be from getting emo.)
There are arguably three different beginnings to my relationship with DJ Khaled:
and you’ll hear about them next week! Told you it was just an introduction!
Please sound off in the comments or over e-mail if you have specific questions, memories, or complaints about DJ Khaled. I wanna talk about it all.
Waves. Film. Speaking of Frank Ocean and Florida, this movie is like if Frank Ocean was a movie set in Florida. It’s super intense, wavy as hell, and ultimately quite a bit of a downer. But the acting is great. If you’re ever trying to fuck yourself up thinking about generational trauma, this is the movie for you.
Blonde. Album. I mean, it’s a great album even though I wasn’t so excited about it at the time. Bonus points if you can get a pair of 20 year old to force it on you and a nice older Uber driver via aux cord.
Change. Song. A hint at what’s to come on the next installment of What We The Best When We The Best About DJ Khaled.
The Broad. Museum. Attention, Angelenos! It’s open again. I went this weekend and had a lot of cool experiences. One of them was finally being okay with Jeff Koons by staring at this painting for a long time.
Have a wonderful week. Sending much love to all!