2015: the Year of DJ Kahled

Olivia Short ’17

At the beginning of 2015, few people (other than true rap devotees) were familiar with DJ Kahled. Now, he seems to be present on every branch of social media: featured art on Tumblr, Buzzfeed quizzes, and, most notably, his own Snapchat.


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That’s right– DJ Kahled wove his way into our daily lives via Snapchat. Thousands have followed his Snapchat since its launch in late October in conjunction with the release of his latest album. (His username is djkahled305, if you’d like to see for yourself.)

What’s made a 40-year-old Palestinian man so popular with American teens? Well, the rapper is surprisingly motivational, with inspiring snippets posted to his Snapchat story daily. 

I think most of his popularity came from that very juxtaposition– who would think that a hardcore rapper with songs like “All I Do Is Win” would be a plant-loving gentle soul?

That’s exactly why I love him. His mantras are the kind of happy-yet-woke content I love to see. It’s a genuine pick-me-up sometimes. Let me take you through some common themes:



Kahled lists many “keys to success” (which are often denoted with the key emoji 🔑), many of which are centered around good self care. Among these are hydration, healthy eating, and good hygiene. Bonus points if the latter involves Listerine or cocoa butter. He documents his meals daily– breakfast is always a healthy plate of egg whites and chicken sausage. (With water, of course, it’s a major key to success.) Occasionally Kahled will take a front-facing video of himself working out on an elliptical, verbally encouraging us to take care of ourselves.   


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Kahled lives in Miami, so there’s plenty of tropical flora for him to snap. He keeps a beautiful, well-loved garden guarded by an ever-regal lion statue. Kahled names his plants, waters them daily, and is always excited to document new additions to the garden. As of now, his most recent addition is a young starfruit tree, which he later named Superstar. His simple love of creation is sweet. It’s also good to see some vibrant plant life when winter is so dreary here in Cincy.



According to Kahled, his positivity and good living are against the plans of a vague, unnamed “they.” He’ll say this in conjunction with whatever he’s doing at the time– “They don’t want you having a jacuzzi”/”They don’t want you to eat”/”They don’t want you to be successful, be successful anyway”/etc.

It’s never been specified exactly who “they” are, but they seem to be more than just haters. “They” could represent anyone or anything that has proved to be a struggle for Kahled– disapproving teachers, poverty, or racism in the music industry. He’s just vague enough to leave room for imagination and be relatable to most anyone.


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Gratitude is also huge for Kahled– his best-known, best-quoted Snapchat mantra is “bless up”, a call for thankfulness and blessing-counting in daily life. He’ll occasionally talk about giving thanks to the Most High, but generally speaking, his call for gratitude is pretty omni-religious. Kahled himself is Muslim, but seldom references God specifically. Often his talk isn’t even religious at all– he’ll cite gratitude’s importance using contrast between his current, affluent life and his struggle-filled past. Either way, it’s a good daily reminder.

Also, one more highlight from this year: the time Kahled got lost at sea on his jetski and documented the hours-long debacle on Snapchat.

Whatever befalls you in 2016, remember to bless up. And, as always, don’t play yourself.

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