How DJ Khaled’s Emergence Into the Limelight Characterizes Social Media’s Role In The Lives of American Youth

How DJ Khaled's Emergence Into the Limelight Characterizes Social Media's Role In The Lives of American Youth

You know who he is. A caption would be superfluous. Credit: MTV.com

Lauren Cohen

Staff Writer

For most, their first encounter of DJ Khaled, a 40-year-old Palestinian DJ, was hearing him dramatically yell his name at the beginning of songs like “All I Do is Win”. Regardless, it seems as though all of his hard work, 10 years worth, he claims, has just now come into fruition. He is currently  the most paid-attention-to figure on social media. According to the New York Times, he gets around 2 million views on each of his Snapchat stories, which comes as no surprise. With his iconic phrases: “they don’t want you to____ (insert verb)”, “another one”, “lion!”, “we the best”, “bless up”, etc., his Snapchat videos have really captured the psyche of modern American youth.  

With so many Snapchat followers, including myself, I begin to question what his fame says about the youngsters of American society. What does it mean that 2 million people are willing to watch a large man with a beard and buzzcut, with a head almost always cocked perfectly to the side, give them life advice (on a hammock, jet ski, in a sauna, the shower, the elevator, wherever)?

After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that Khaled’s fame perfectly characterizes the intangible online society of social media- forged by intertwining strands of Instagram, Snapchat, and dimly, Facebook. Firstly, the instantaneous nature of his fame represents the fast-paced way things move on social media- a quick double tap, a swipe, a few taps through the story. Secondly, the blatant appearance of Cîroc (a high-class fruity French vodka) in almost every single one of his Snapchat stories shows how social media has evolved into one of the most prevalent and effective platforms for advertisement. Not only that, his fame, highly fueled by his followers, can be attributed to the conformity of those who follow him. In my eyes, there is nothing incredibly exciting about repeating the same exact phrases in the same exact backgrounds into your Snapchat camera. The excitement comes from the “hype”: the followers who make it seem like there is something special to see. Such excitement and hype feed each other in a positive feedback cycle, expanding Khaled’s fame seemingly exponentially and exemplifying how much of what people pay attention to online is molded by what their peers share/like/favorite, rather than primarily by their by own personal interests.

But we all know better than to call such fame infinitely exponential. DJ Khaled will soon be just as forgotten as the blue/gold dress controversy after its 15 minutes of fame. The question, however, remains: how much longer will his flame of popularity flicker before it is shut out by the howling winds of time?