On the Road With DJ Khaled, Who Has Very Specific White T-Shirt Preferences

Photographs: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Few people on earth travel as often as professional athletes (and music producers!) With On the Road, the GQ Sports Travel Questionnaire, they’re weighing in on everything from room service to flying comfortably to their favorite chain restaurants.

DJ Khaled is not just the man behind some of the most inescapable music of the last 15 years. He’s also a father of two, an avid golfer, and an accomplished world traveler. But even with a Grammy on the shelf, multiple platinum records to his name, and every A-list rapper in his Rolodex, Khaled says he’s still igniting his passion every day. “One thing I’m gonna do is always be myself. If it was up to them, they wouldn’t want me to ignite my passion.”

Hard at work on his 14th album, Khaled took a quick break to chat with GQ about his life of luxury. When it comes to travel, he’s got some things down to a science, even if it’s cost him quite a bit of cash. Calling in via Zoom from the back of a convertible (roof open), Khaled gave us the keys to constantly being on the road.

Khaled and Lil Wayne at the 2023 Grammys

When you’re packing for a trip, what are the first things that go in the suitcase?

I mean, you gotta have the gold toothbrush. Gotta have that. Personally, I love Dove deodorant. Also, I gotta throw some cigars in there because I might hit the golf course. Need some lighters in there because I gotta light the cigars, so we’ll need the Djeep lighters, for sure. I love to flick lighters when I make music, when I hear something hot. I love to smoke cigars, and I love candles. So I always have a lighter. More fire, more fire, more fire.

I like to have particular bags, and I don’t know if we can talk about the stuff that’s in the bags, but I’m gonna need that new Pharrell LV butter leather bag. The green one, the red one, the blue one. Even the classic brown one! Then I gotta have another bag. It’s called the brown paper bag. The brown paper bag is, you know, the brown paper bag! There’s something in the bag. You put a rubber band around it, and, you know, we gotta be able to pay to get something to eat. I know some people like credit cards. Some people have cash and credit cards! So, the other essential is the black card. In case I don’t feel like pulling out the brown paper bag, I got the black card. You know what I’m saying?

I gotta have some boxers and some white T’s. Now the white T’s—very important. There’s two different types of white T’s. One is the new fresh one, just in case you need to throw something on, you can never go wrong. But then you have the white T’s that you wash every single day. I would hope you wash your clothes every day. My white T’s, I like to wear the washed ones when I go to bed. I love those. It’s just a different feeling, and I sleep so much better. You need some fly gear, like my Air Jordans. You’re ready to travel after that! I would have the holy Quran in my bag, too.

You get your laundry done every day when you’re in a hotel?

So, we’re blessed to have that done every day when we’re at home. When I’m on the road, I ain’t gonna lie, I spend ridiculous amounts of money to wash my clothes. You know how you can call the front desk to wash your clothes? They charge you like…a lot. But I gotta do it! I wear the new one if I’m going out and I gotta do what I gotta do. But, I look more forward to getting home and putting on the one that’s been washed for seven years.

Washing the white T’s, I don’t think you understand. When it’s really soft, and it’s been through years of washing? That’s the most comfortable thing in the world. It also makes me feel skinnier, I don’t know why.

Do you bring recording equipment on the road?

My engineer travels with me, but I also got a portable studio. We record in hotel rooms, villas, wherever we gotta do it! Personally, before I get with an artist I like to lay down ideas. Whether that’s me talking the Khaled talk, or just mumbling melodies that I want someone to play.

I’ll be in a vibe—and especially when it comes to travel, I’ll catch different vibes. When that happens, I try to jot down ideas, but sometimes you gotta put it in its skeleton form so it becomes the beginning of a song and we can finish it later.

So it sounds like a lot of your big hits have been recorded in hotel rooms and tour buses?

Oh yeah, for sure. We’re working on my 14th album! When I think about the other albums, I’ve recorded everywhere. Outside, hotel rooms, back stage, hallways, in a car. You gotta be ready to capture that magic! Sometimes, you just gotta get it done! Everybody’s busy, but when great energy comes around, people like that.

What are your favorite vacation spots?

I’ve got a few. I’m gonna have to name them all. Rihados [his nickname for Barbados]. Jamaica. Bahamas. Turks and Caicos. Saudi Arabia. I like Paris, too. I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve had some good times in Paris. Another favorite would be the ones that I haven’t touched yet. I’m looking forward to it. I might hit Antarctica, you never know!

What’s top of the list for places you haven’t been but want to go?

I’m on my way. We’re going to be really island hopping. Stay tuned, be patient. You’re going to see me on an island near you! I’m just getting the album done first.

Being on the road for you must mean an insane amount of fan interactions. What’s the most memorable thing a fan has done?

Everything that you can imagine has happened before. I think the most beautiful thing is when someone comes to you and says something like, You helped me accomplish my dream. You helped me overcome and not give up. This song does something to me that helped me get through a tough time. People have said that my book guided them and brought them focus. That’s love. You would hope everyone has love, right? I’m going to always embrace that because that’s what keeps me going.

Few artists are as prolific. As widely imitated. As consistently excellent. Which is why it’s finally time to declare what’s been true for a while now...

What sort of things do you have on your rider?

I actually gotta update it. But it’s a great rider. You know we got the Diptyque candles. The Beats Pill. Djeep lighter. Gum. Fresh towels. Hand sanitizer. I ain’t gonna lie to you, we got a little chocolate. Just in case I get in that zone, I need something chocolate, some Hershey’s. But then we also got granola, the healthy pack.

We just added chargers to the rider. Obviously you need water, and coconut water too. My rider’s pretty dope. I think I need to add some fresh white T’s. You never know! I always spill stuff. I’m a fat boy, you know what I’m saying?

Originally Appeared on GQ