July 7, 2011

Evan Nabavian is in all likelihood, one of the best forever.

DJ Khaled’s ringtone is his 2010 single “All I Do Is Win.” T-Pain’s voice reverberates down the closed off Miami street and Khaled answers like a customer service rep, with a casual, “We the best.” He starts peppering Cool from Cool & Dre about three beats for We The Best Forever. With his free hand, DJ Khaled dips a McNugget into a plastic container of barbecue sauce, eats it, licks his fingers, and then wipes them on his amber tracksuit. Nearby, Meek Mill is smiling ear to ear, talking to a thickset model in black tights sitting on a black Maybach. It smells like cigar smoke, crab cakes, and flatulence.

I turn around to see Rick Ross stroking his beard and looking curiously at his iPhone through Louis Vuitton sunglasses, his unbuttoned tomato red shirt flailing in the Summer breeze. “How do I do a Twitpic?’ he asks no one in particular. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Lil Wayne standing next to Baby, looking awkwardly sober. Drake is gesticulating as if on camera, mouthing his verse from “I’m On One” wearing a contemptuous, but softened expression that appears to say, ‘I’m a rapper, but I’ll remember your birthday and take you to see Wicked.’ DJ Khaled asks an assistant for more McNuggets and a Diet Coke.

Suddenly, Khaled yells his release date at a man with a Flip Cam. He recites a list of his partners’ label affiliations and upcoming releases fluently (“Bigger Than Life! Take Care! MMG! YMCMB!”) before returning to his McNuggets. “I’m On One” was made for the Summer Jam stage. It features three of the biggest names Khaled can muster. On paper, it’s indistinguishable from any other song on a Hot 97 playlist, but it’s surprisingly good. Drake is half rapper, half pop singer and seamlessly combines the two personalities, eliminating any need to call Akon. Now Khaled, Drake, Ross, and Wayne are posturing in front of a camera, bouncing to the track’s bassline. Ross raises his watch up to the camera with a scowl and slowly turns toward me for the first time. On cue, the sun sets behind his bald head. He lowers his sunglasses and looks directly at me, full of ancient wisdom, and whispers, “Bawse.” And my head explodes.

Read the rest in the August 2011 issue of the New Yorker. It’s the one with Rosa Acosta covered in maple syrup on the cover.

MP3: DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross, & Lil Wayne-“I’m On One”

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