Mike West, “DJ Khaled Gave Me His Word… He Failed to Deliver.”
It took just 14 seconds, caught on a short video clip, for the under the radar powder keg that had been slowly building for five years to finally explode between South Florida rapper Mike West and one of Miami’s most notable radio personalities DJ Khaled. Since that 2009 confrontation at the 99 Jamz studio in Hollywood, FL, exactly what went down and why remained unclear. That is, until earlier this past summer when West, a 14-year underground rap veteran who’s worked with Luther Campbell and 2Pac’s Thug Life crew, released the second installment of his Divide & Conquer mixtape series, airing out a lot of his issues with Khaled and other conspicuous names in hip-hop.
XXLMag.com sat down with West, who let it all hang out in a candid conversation about the beef with Khaled, the truth behind a past federal court case with Slip-N-Slide Records, his time running promotions at Luke Records and how social media has changed the rap game forever.
XXLMag.com: For those unfamiliar with your music, give a little insight about you’re the latest Divide & Conquer tape.
Mike West: This Divide & Conquer 2 is actually a little brighter, lighter, more musical than Pt. 1 because Pt. 1… It was primarily dark. I lost my parents in two years time and you know all the stuff that these guys been taking me through… the federal court case situation that the A&R over at Slip-N-Slide Records had me involved in to the whole Khaled situation, dealing with that clown.
You caused quite a stir in Florida with your DJ Khaled diss record, “Where I Stand.” What’s the inspiration behind that song?
“Where I Stand” of course is a Khaled diss, of course is off the head of the A&R over there at Slip-N-Slide Records. It was something that I had to do because I actually got tired of the press, the media and executives at companies asking me why I never did anything with Khaled… I am from South Florida; so why I never did anything with Slip-N-Slide Records. And it’s no disrespect to Ted Lucas, who’s the owner of Slip-N-Slide Records, but the guy, which is his senior A&R [Jullian Boothe] over there, he’s been taking me through it. This whole federal court case that they tried to have me involved in.
What federal court case?
The guy over at Slip-N-Slide Records actually tried to get me involved with the federal court case of this illegal Mr. 305 Pitbull album they was trying to do. They tried to have me involved in the case in order to go on the stand and testify against Luther Campbell. They wanted me to lie on the stand and that’s something I couldn’t do… The guys over there at Slip-N-Slide Records was actually shooting for like a $9 million lawsuit against TVT Records [In 2007, Slip-N-Slide was awarded $9.1 million for TVT’s blocking of Pitbull’s album release for Welcome to the 305].
They wanted you to lie, what did they want you to say?
You got to understand Pit was signed to Luke Records [when I was working promotions there]. The A&R guy over at Slip-N-Slide Records used to work for Luke Records, too, so what he did was, he tried to take the records Pit recorded from Luke Records over to Slip-N-Slide and do a bunch of new collaborations but that’s when those records were when Pit was still signed to Luke… They wanted me to go on the stand and actually lie and say these masters was not his when originally they were his. I have been kind of quiet about it for a long time, man, but enough is enough. I got nothing to lose so, hey, the hell with them. Fuck them all.
How did the beef with DJ Khaled come about?
Dude gave me his word he was supposed to play the record, the 2005 single that I had with me and Pitbull called “Grand Finale.” He failed to deliver. Then, on top of that, they reached out to me in 2007 about the We The Best album and they wanted to get me on that project. I was like, “I can’t dance with dude, I can’t deal with dude,” ’cause you know dude ain’t never delivered on the first round. They insisted… I went ahead and did the verse ’cause I didn’t want to make it seem like I was the bad guy… the verse never made the cut. It was supposed to be on the song “Born and Raised in the County of Dade.” To this day, they have never given me no legitimate reason why my verse never made the cut, so that’s strike two.
Strike three, 2009, I was at the radio station having a meeting with the program director Derrick Baker and Khaled didn’t know I was there, and when he saw me, he got spooked. He got scared. So, he comes up to me, trying to give me pound saying, “What’s up, man, you got beef? You got beef? Looking at me like that, you libel to get knocked out in this building.” A piece of that, the world has seen it on YouTube. It’s a 14-second clip of what had happened before the drama actually happened.
What happened after the video stopped recording?
I mean, a lot of things was said. This guy, he told me straight up because of the fact that the PD [program director] was not coming to his defense, his ego dropped to the ground and when his ego dropped to the ground, he came out his own mouth and said, “I’ll never play your records, I ain’t gonna never play your records!”
This dude coming up saying to me in the heat of the moment, in the heat of the argument and everything calling me “boy,” “you a boy,” “you ain’t nothing but a boy.” I’m a Black man, so where I’m from that’s slave talk.
50 Cent has the same beef with Khaled and put “Where I Stand” on his website, any plans for a collaboration?
Shout to ThisIs50.com, they’ve seen the video “Where I Stand” and they put it up on their website… We’ve been talking, not talking that hard, man, but I’d love to do a collaboration with 50 just to actually put a lot of things to rest, put a lot of people to rest, so you never know what may happen… 50 need to get at me man, holla at me.
How’s the independent grind in the new “social media” day and age for you?
The whole Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook thing, YouTube, all that is just like… it’s necessary. When other people don’t believe it’s necessary and they try to clown on the situation because this particular artist doesn’t have their video on a network like Viacom, BET, Sucker Free, or MTV Jams… Twitter in necessary, YouTube is necessary because this rap shit is the most competitive business in the fucking world! And for artists that has not adapted to the game or what’s going on right now, they’re going to be lost.
What’s it like being a part of the Thug Life camp that 2Pac made legendary?
Mopreme Shakur, he was the one that actually made me a part of the Thug Life family and Thug Life is very much alive, just for everyone to know… Back in 2000, 2001 something like that, I came out to L.A. and Mopreme sat me down at a Maybach party, a red carpet Maybach party and made me a part of the Thug Life family.
It’s a big difference between a lot of guys that say, “Yeah, yeah, we family,” like, Khaled. Same thing Khaled said, “Get it to me, Mike, we family,” that’s bullshit. Because these guys, the Thug Life camp and the Outlawz has been having my back, showing me love, they’re there when I need them… ’Pac rest in peace and we keeping the torch lit for him. —Michael K. Rothman