DJ Khaled is among the world’s highest-paid hip-hop artists: In 2018, he earned $27 million, according to Forbes.
The 43-year-old Palestinian-American music mogul, whose real name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, also knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the wealth spectrum. His parents, Palenstinian immigrants, arrived in New Orleans in their 20s with just $20 to their name.
“They worked every day, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Khaled told Miami New Times in 2016. “If I wanted to hang out with my mother and father, I had to hang out with them hustling.”
His family moved from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida, where Khaled first started DJing at 13. When he was 16, his parents ran into financial trouble and lost everything. They moved back to New Orleans to live with family, but Khaled stayed in Florida to try to launch his music career.
He DJed at clubs and earned a meager $100 a week, barely enough to get by.
“I was just a kid and I got evicted probably 10 times,” he writes in his 2016 book, “The Keys.” “My friends would come over and I would have no furniture. Nothing in my fridge. Just records.”
There were times when “I used to stay in hotels, because I couldn’t afford an apartment,” he told Luc Belaire CEO Brett Berish on an episode of Belaire’s “Self Made Tastes Better” video series. Some nights, “I had to sleep in the car,” he added.
Khaled worked to land more DJing gigs and, gradually, his career gained momentum. “I got really good with the music,” he told Belaire. “I got better and started making $1,000 every week. From there, it kept getting better and better, to the point where I was blessed enough to buy my first home.”
That was his first major purchase. He didn’t buy it on a whim — he’d been planning for it even when he was broke, he said: “I’ve always been focused. Even when I had just a little bread, if I knew it would cost $30,000 for a down payment on my first home, I went and got it. My mentality at that time as a young kid was so focused that I was thinking about buying a home.”
Today, the self-made millionaire can afford much more than a $30,000 down payment. In 2018, he listed his four-story Miami estate for sale for nearly $8 million.