djk_3x4 Skye Gould/Tech Insider

The sun was setting as DJ Khaled's jet ski roared down Miami's Intracoastal Waterway. He'd just been pulled over by the cops for speeding, and the clock was ticking.

Khaled had misjudged how long it would take him to get home from the nearby estate of his friend and famous rapper Rick Ross. The cops had just reminded him that it's illegal to drive a jet ski at night, and as it became pitch black outside, he realized a disturbing truth: he was lost.

While most people would have probably called a friend or the authorities for help, Khaled chose to document the entire escapade on Snapchat. "It's so real out here smh," read one of his 10-second video captions. Sometimes his iPhone's camera flash was the only thing illuminating his surroundings.

"When I was on the jet ski, I documented it because I was scared s---less," Khaled told Tech Insider in an exclusive interview two days after the incident. "I felt like if my battery gonna go down, somebody gonna call somebody."

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Khaled ended up making it back home, and millions of people on Snapchat followed his journey the whole way. The national news attention that followed his adventure reinforces the fact that the 40-year-old Khaled has become the biggest Snapchat star on the planet.

In a phone interview with Tech Insider, the DJ/producer behind hits like "I'm So Hood" and "All I Do is Win" candidly discussed Snapchat fame, how he uses social media as a celebrity, his obsession with plants and lions, and his radically positive outlook on life.

(Editor's note: The following interview has been edited for clarity.) 

Tech Insider: Your Snapchat game is crazy right now. What everyone wants to know is how did you make it back at night on that jet ski the other night? That looked intense.

Yeah, it was intense. When the sun is out and it starts getting a little dark you don’t think it’s gonna be full dark by the time you get home. And I got pulled over. When I got pulled over the cops told me, “Yo, where you headed?” And I told them where I was headed and he was like, “Yo it’s gonna be dark by then. Yo, it’s against the law. Besides you’re getting a speeding ticket now.”

And I was like, “Yo, you need you to hurry up and give me my ticket so I can get back.”

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So he let me go, and 10 minutes later it was f------ pitch black. You got the intracoastal, but it was a thing where the intracoastal breaks up and I went the wrong way. And I went to a dead end, and I turned around and I went the wrong way again. So I was f------ lost.

Then I found a little bridge, canal-type thing I went under where basically I couldn’t fit. I was hanging off the jet ski a little just to get under this shit. Once I got under it, I found a familiar place to get back where I was at. Cause I went to the big ocean part, you know what I’m saying? And that f----- me up. It’s completely pitch black!

Basically what I’m trying to tell you is that it’s almost impossible to drive a jet ski at night time unless you’re in a city with lights lit up so you can navigate. Besides being pitch black, that water turn black at night.

Listen, I don’t recommend it.

TI: But you made it back though. That’s the important thing.

Yeah, I made it back. It took me a long time to get back. And the thing is that I almost didn’t have enough gas. You have problems with jet skiis a lot because when you ride them a lot seaweed gets stuck in the thing you know. And when it’s pitch black dark you ain’t trying to jump out on the water and fix something on it. That ain’t happening.

Cause don’t forget, there’s animals in there. You know what I’m saying? At daytime you have fun, and at nighttime it’s you and the animals. They act a little different at night.

S--- real, bro. S--- real.

TI: Why did you decide to start posting to Snapchat? It seems like you use it a lot more than other social media.

Everybody around me had a Snapchat and I said I would never get on it. I’m still on Instagram, you know? They convinced me to get Snapchat.

The thing is that what you see on Snapchat, that’s DJ Khaled. That’s Khaled for real. That’s Khaled. My fans are seeing me besides my records and music videos and interviews. They’re seeing a more spiritual and at the same time motivational and inspirational side of me being at home.

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I’m letting people in my life a little more. But at the same time I’m letting them in for a reason: to inspire the young world. Because when I come back off the road for nine months and I get to go home for the holidays, I look at my swimming pool different. I look at my plants different. I look at all the hard work.

I remember I used to sleep on my records. In a room with no furniture. I remember I used to sleep in my car.

When I’m in my crib and I’m like “the key to more success” is what I keep telling people. Like yo, I’m giving you game. I’m letting you know that these people, they don’t want you to live. They don’t want you to live. They don’t want you to eat. They don’t want you to win. And I tell myself that every day to keep myself focused because it’s the truth.

My plants relax me because I remember when I didn’t have plants. That pathway to more success, that marble I’m walking on outside, used to be mud.

TI: You’re snapchatting and you’re talking about this “pathway to more success.” You seem to have a very positive outlook on life. Have you always been this way?

Yeah, I’ve always been that way since birth. I’m a very thankful person. I love God. God is the greatest. Even if there is a problem, you have life to solve it. You have life to overcome it. If you have life, that’s the biggest blessing you could have ever.

I believe the more blessings you’re given the more blessings you give back. I’ve always been that person that prays a lot and puts energy in the room and inspires them. And while I’m inspiring them I’m inspiring myself because you have to talk things into existence for them to happen.

TI: Can you tell me about the lion statue? Because you show that a lot on Snapchat. And what does “lion order” represent?

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The lion is the king of the jungle. But it gets deeper than that. Where I got lion order from was Rohan Marley, Bob Marley’s son. He always used to tell me “lion order.” That means it’s a lion order. We are lions. Without him telling me lion order, I know it’s lion order because I’m a lion.

That’s why I praise the lion in my garden, because it’s lion order. It keeps us focused. The lion is aware of everything. It’s deep, bro. It’s deep. But it’s positive.

TI: So who’s the “they” that you’re always referring to in your Snapchat stories?

Everyone wants to know who “they” are. I’m gonna let you know who “they” are. They are f---boys. The f---boys don’t want us to prosper. They don’t want us to win.

Some people have different names for them. The haters. F---boys. The devils. The people who don’t love us, who don’t want to see us smile. Everybody has that in their life, am I correct?

Let’s be honest with each other. The reason why there’s love is because there’s people out there who don’t have love.

TI: How do you feel that the reaction’s been among your peers to what you’re doing on Snapchat? Justin Bieber was giving you a shout-out on his Snapchat the other day.

It’s pure love. I love it because that means my good energy is coming across well. You put good energy out there and people love. People expose the love.

Besides the amazing huge celebrities showing love, the fans are showing tremendous love. They love it. I see people on Twitter and social media using these messages to do better in school and pass their finals. To prosper their career. To motivate them to go harder.

I’m breaking it down in straight up blunt language. And when I say blunt, I mean direct. I’m giving it to you raw, straight up. They don’t want you to win. They don’t want you to have breakfast. So enjoy your breakfast because they don’t want you to eat. I’m speaking facts.

I think people get inspired by that because the message after that is “Guess what we gonna do?”  We gonna win more.

Snapchat is straight up raw. There ain’t someone on there trying to tell you how your shirt look. There ain’t haters.

Snapchat is not only an amazing invention, but it disappears in 24 hours. So it makes it more interesting what you gonna snap next. So if you follow your best friend or your favorite celebrity it’s kind of like you may not be with them that day, but you’re with them. You know what I mean?

TI: It’s like you’re bringing your fans along on a journey.

Right. They’re on a journey with me. And it depends on what path I want to take them that day. When I was on the jet ski, I documented it because I was scared s---less. I felt like if my battery gonna go down, somebody gonna call somebody.

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When I’m watering my plants, I’m explaining how beautiful life is. Look at the plants grow. Look at it shine. At the same I have days were the grass is going to be brown. But don’t panic, don’t give up. Cause later that grass is green.

TI: Did you expect what you say on Snapchat to take off the way it is?

I’m just being me. I be thinking everybody know who I am, but I didn’t realize that the whole world at one time embraced it and they took it to another level. They love it.

God forbid I wake up past 11 o’clock. They going crazy!

TI: They want to see the story.

image1.PNG A screenshot of DJ Khaled's Snapchat account. He averages around 2 million views per snap. DJ Khaled

It’s not even just Twitter telling me to go on Snapchat. My own friends texting me like, “Yo, get up! I need motivation!” People are calling me saying, “Bro, I need that motivation. Where are you?”

That’s why I found out my Snapchat broke the other day. People were calling me saying, “Khaled, where are you?” And I’m like, “I put ten keys to success up what are you talking about?” And they’re like, “It’s not on there.” So my fans attack Snapchat.

TI: Snapchat wasn’t showing your snaps?

I was snapping and you couldn’t see it. I called Snapchat cause something ain’t right. And Snapchat went on Twitter because the fans were freaking out. Snapchat had to make a response and say “we’re fixing Khaled’s Snapchat as we speak, we apologize” And Snapchat hit me direct and we was on DM going back and forth. And I was like, “Yo bro, ya’ll got to fix this.”

And they like “we on it.” And I’m like, “Yo, they think you trying to sabotage my s---.” And they like “we would never do that.”

The fans going crazy, bro.

TI: You’re owning Snapchat. Do you think it’s the fact that you’re so raw and real?

I’m just being Khaled. I’m not acting. I’m not trying to be funny. If you enjoy it and you laugh that’s beautiful because I can make you laugh. I take that as positive energy. But I’m being serious though.

Now universities are calling me to come speak in schools to inspire the kids. They want Khaled now.

Snapchat is promoting my life. My life is that I’m a successful music man. I’m a mogul. You’re taking 10 years of success and now it’s being exposed to the masses in a different way. I’m giving you game.

When you push the button I ain’t got time to act.

When you push the button I ain’t got time to act.

What is it, 10 seconds? Five seconds? I don’t know how long it is. You push the button and I’m just being me. You can hear it in my voice. You can see it in my eyes. It’s just being me.

Some days I’m gonna hit you with some talk. It might be a music day in the studio. Or it might be me in the jacuzzi and I got something to tell you. Or it might be me relaxing and watering my plants. Or it might be in my car vibing to one of my records. It might be me saying how great this food is. It’s whatever. It’s straight up me.

With Snapchat, I’m letting you in my house.

TI: You snapchat yourself in the shower.

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When I’m in the shower, I’m gonna put you up on game: Dove is the best soap in the game. I got sensitive skin, and I know that Dove is the real deal. I don’t wear cologne. That s--- give you headaches. Why would I want a bunch of s--- on my body when I can put natural coco butter and make me smell amazing and keep my skin clean and put a glow on me?

That’s my vibe. I’m just putting you up on vibes.

Drinking coconut water. Letting people know that water is a major key to success. I don’t drink soda. People don’t realize that you need to drink a lot of water. You might have kids out there who don’t know that. I’m not gonna wait till you’re 30-years-old to tell you that.

You know why I got a chef? My lady can cook for me. She’s a great cook. I got a chef because I tell her to cook gluten free. Don’t get it twisted, I eat all type of food. But I try to eat as much gluten free as possible because the other food has steroids and all other type of s--- in it. And I notice when I eat gluten free that I start smiling more, I feel better. I feel like I can eat anything I want.

They didn’t tell me this in school! They drink Coke!

TI: So you’re going to keep using Snapchat?

This is all organic and natural. I’m just waking up and being me. We going to go all the way and continue to win more, with or without Snapchat. We going hard. That’s life.

TI: What would you tell people is the key to success on Snapchat?

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The key to success is to motivate yourself and to motivate others. And to surround yourself with great people. And understand that you got to work hard if you want success. You have to know what success could come with.

When you get all these keys, you’re going to be able to navigate success and prosper in your life. I ain’t never had nobody telling me this when I was coming up. I wish I had somebody.

I feel like if somebody was down that day and they look at my snap, I’m gonna give them a gem; give them a key to keep their head up.

And if someone doesn’t know what joy is, I’m gonna show them joy.

TI: It seems like positive energy is the key. To keep “they” away.

When you know who they are, you aren’t gonna have to deal with them. You know why? Cause you’re not going to let them around you. You’re not going to give them what they want. There could be a million “theys” out there, but they can’t affect me.

I know for a fact that they don’t want me to drive a Rolls Royce, I know for a fact that they don’t want me to eat filet mignon.

I know for a fact that they don’t want me to drive a Rolls Royce, I know for a fact that they don’t want me to eat filet mignon.

I know for a fact. So I enjoy it even more cause I know how hard I worked to get that.

You’re going to have some people be proud of you though, and those are the people you want around you.

If you just won a promotion or the lottery, your whole family might be clapping for you and there might be that one person in the corner with that ice cold face. They mad that you won the lottery, that you got promoted. And they got that ice cold face.

You know who I’m talking about, my brother. You know who I’m talking about.

TI: That’s "they."

That’s they. That’s they .

But we’re going to overcome it. There are roadblocks in life. That’s part of success. They never made it easy to win, from sports to education, to being a philosopher, a doctor, a builder, a developer, a writer. You’re gonna experience roadblocks. But when you experience it, overcome it. If some roadblocks push you to the side, keep going forward.

TI: Where do you see social media going? Snapchat is hot right now.

With social media there’s nothing that you can’t do. If you want to get your word across, you get your word across. I choose to get my word across the positive energy. I only put out good energy.

Social media is huge. We watch our music videos on social media, we read blogs, this interview is going to go on social media. It’s a serious situation.

TI: People have known your music for years, but seeing you on Snapchat is letting people know you on another level.

I feel the same. People who didn’t know me know me more. If you ever had mixed emotions about me, it’s changed. God is good. I’m glad people love the positive energy. I’m just being me. It’s all DJ Khaled being Khaled.

We got a lot more to show you. Be ready. I’m going to take you to my hotel room, I’m going to take you to my tour bus. I’m going to show you.

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