The code of the beat.

BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: DJ Khalil


#25 – DJ Khalil


DJ Khalil (Khalil-Abdul Rahman). A west coast master music maker with chameleon tendencies…
When it comes to west coast beatmaking, the west coast is often thought of as Dr. Dre’s domain. Which is to say that many people think west coast beatmaking styles and sounds mainly fall under one of Dre’s musical’s spectrum or another. But everything in the west coast is certainly not G funk based or west coast bounce. What’s lesser known is the fact that the west coast has it’s own form of east coast sound (think Alchemist, DJ Muggs, Domino, etc.). I call this the west-east sound. The west-east sound is typified by most of the same fundamental components that you’d find in the basic east coast sound. There’s hard hitting drums, chopped samples and breaks, and typically a boom bap feel (sometimes more or less subtle). But the west-east sound also incorporates west coast-grown elements like moog bass parts, the west coast bounce, and a number of different sonic characteristics that students of the art of beatmaking associate with the west coast sound.

And among the top practitioners of the west-east sound is DJ Khalil. Actually, DJ Khalil at times represents kind of the prototype of the sound; at other times, he’s the manifestation of an evolution to a more distinctly east coast sound. Indeed, he can move flawlessly between both styles and sounds. Sometimes his beats have the same crisp, stripped-down, synth-orchestral bounce that you typically here on Dr. Dre produced tracks (study “Lay You Down” – G-Unit for a demonstration of what I mean). But even here, Khalil’s changes and switch-ups defer more to his DJ sensibility than anything else. And sometimes his beats have an alternative hybrid west coast sound. Indeed, DJ Khalil deservers some credit for helping to foster the alternative west coast sound that many now associate with Dibiase. And if those styles and sounds weren’t enough, DJ Khalil continues his chameleon nature with his soul-sample-based beats (an excellent demonstration of this, as well as DJ Khalil’s range, is “I Made It” (Jay-Z))… There’s not a beatmaking style and sound that DJ Khalil can’t master or flip. His creative spectrum and beat sensibility is that ill.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

DJ Khalil Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:

“Judgement Day” – Xzibit beat by DJ Khalil

“Kiss of Death” – Ras Kass feat. Sideline beat by DJ Khalil

“I Still Kill” – 50 Cent feat. Akon beat by DJ Khalil

“I Made It” – Jay-Z beat by DJ Khalil

“Lay You Down” – G-Unit beat by DJ Khalil

“Da Shit” – The Game beat by DJ Khalil

“County Building Blues” – Kendrick Lamar beat by DJ Khalil

“Won’t Back Down” – Eminem feat. Pink beat by DJ Khalil

“Fear” – Drake beat by DJ Khalil

“Let’s Go” – Nas beat by DJ Khalil

“Kinda Like a Big Deal” – Clipse feat. Kanye West beat by DJ Khalil

“The Code” – Bishop Lamont feat. Kobe Killa beat by DJ Khalil


About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual