Musician Case Study: Jay Sean and DJ Khaled
Jay Sean began his music career as an R&B musician due to his Indian heritage; he later developed urban desi alongside fellow British-Indian Rishi Rich (alongside whom he continues to make hits that do very well in Asia). Most recently, he is focusing on emphasizing R&B again to better suit the American audience (including his new label, Cash Money Records).
DJ Khaled emits a strong vibe of positivity stemming in part from his personal background and his Muslim heritage (which he embraces wholly). He has also adopted Jamaican culture as being spiritually similar to his own message of being upbeat and unfailingly positive.
- Jay Sean comes from a mixture of British and Indian heritage, and it is this combination that has propelled him to success.
- Early on, Jay Sean wanting to go into rapping, but he switched to R&B music to enter the music scene due to his Indian heritage (which complicated his entry into the British rap scene).
- Jay Sean has specifically worked with other stars of mixed heritage, such as Rishi Rich (including the song "Nakhre" most recently). Rishi Rich was born in the UK but now lives in India; together, the duo "pioneered the urban desi music genre" in the early 2000s.
- Jay Sean's ability to freestyle rap and utilize witty wordplay initially drew producer Rishi Rich to him, prompting the two's early collaboration.
- In Nakhre, Jay Sean sings for the first time in Punjabi; he also sings in Hindi. He shares that he enjoys incorporating musical influences from a wide variety of cultures and genres.
- The "old Jay Sean" focused on Indian-influenced R&B fusion songs, but the "new Jay Sean" is focused on full R&B in the interest of improving success in America. As an example, Jay Sean signed on with Cash Money Records and teamed up with Lil Wayne to hit number 1 with "Down".
- Born to Palestinian parents, DJ Khaled was raised with a Muslim upbringing. This spiritual background deeply informs his approach to music as it enables him to radiate his "guru-like mindset of peace, love, and respect" to his listeners.
- To illustrate how DJ Khaled's faith impacts his music process and ensuing success, he shares: "My faith has helped make me the man I am right now, with the love and the respect that I put out there. I love anybody that loves God. That’s what I am about.”
- DJ Khaled launched his own record label that embodies his philosophy in its title: We the Best Music Group.
- Cash Money Records picked up DJ Khaled after being impressed with his ability to freestyle, which fits in with their label and their culture of creativity.
- DJ Khaled has a strong affinity for Jamaican culture, where he also enjoyed early success. As a result, he has occasionally worked with Jamaican dancehall and reggae artists.
- Notably, Khaled has adopted the phrase "bless up!" from Jamaican Rastafarian culture, which he identifies with on the grounds of spirituality. Khaled writes: “It’s almost like a prayer. Like just a reminder to myself and those around me that God is good. I love that it’s something I am known for.”