DJ Khalil Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

Drake “Fear” (2009)

DJ Khalil: “That one I did with Chin Injeti in Vancouver and that was a result of a jam session we did at three in the morning. I remember Chin was kind of falling asleep but the music was just really dope. I took what they did, chopped it up, and formatted it. I brought in a bass player to play bass. Then we added the horns and live strings to it. It was one of those tracks that was just a beautiful piece of music. It just ended up being real dope and emotional. I try to put something like that into all my music. The funny thing is that was like another Nas thing. I had a [Nas] acapella that he had given me. That was kinda how I formatted it, I used [Nas’ vocals] to structure the beat. [His vocals] provided me with a blueprint of what that beat would sound like.

“So what happened was, I had talked to Drake. This was before the whole Young Money thing, like late 2007. My manager put me on the phone with him and we talked. He was already a fan and I sent him a bunch of beats. That beat was in the batch that I sent to him. And he was like, 'Yo, I really love this record. Can you hold it for me? I was like, ‘Sure, no problem.’ We held it for a long time and I didn’t really give that beat to anybody. We kept in touch the whole time, just sending texts and stuff like that. He was like, 'Yo, I wanna put Marsha Ambrosius on it.' And then he was like, 'Dude, I'm going through all my music and I keep coming back to this record. I just don't know what I'm gonna do about the hook.' He had all these ideas, but then I didn't hear from him for a while.

“When they were gonna release So Far Gone on iTunes, Drake wanted to add a song or two. Drake hit me up and was like, 'Yo, I know we did this a long time ago, but it's everybody’s favorite song. I wanna put this on the EP. Is that cool with you?' And I was like, ‘Of course. It's your beat.’ So he puts the hook on it and all I can remember is its impact was just crazy. We talked shortly after that and he was like, 'Yo, this song provided the whole vibe of the So Far Gone mixtape.' He was like, 'This song was kind of the direction and a blueprint. Everybody was saying it was my best song to date.' I remember going to the studio with Drake [recently] to play him some new beats and we were talking about the record and he was like, 'Yo, Jay-Z called me about that record.' He was just like, 'Man, we should've kept this for Thank Me Later.' But he was like, 'It's all good. It was supposed to come out the way it came out.'”

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