ALBUM REVIEW: DJ Khaled, KHALED KHALED
Grade: Who honestly cares at this point?
Editor's Note: We gave this album way too much credit on the podcast when it was initially released. The only song on here worth shit is The Durk & Baby cut and the two Drake songs. This is another unnecessary ass album from Khaled.
Love him or hate him, DJ Khaled is one of the biggest music curators we have ever seen. Who do you know that could bring Jay-Z and Nas together on the same track? With several albums under his belt, DJ Khaled always finds the biggest people in the industry and convinces them all to collab on a song. These tracks with the biggest contemporary artists at the time should be amazing. However, the key word is should. Having a song with DaBaby, Post Malone, Lil Baby and Meg Thee Stallion should be a pop rap smash, but much like most of the songs on this project, it fell short.
I was surprised by the intro song, “THANKFUL (feat. Lil Wayne & Jeremih.” It was a solid start to this album. Jeremih sounds great on his opening verse. The chorus was powerful and his inflection on the beat makes the song almost soulful. If it wasn’t for Jeremih’s performance, this track would have fallen directly on its face. The beat was sampled from Bobby Bland soul-cut, which Kanye already chopped up and renewed with Jay-Z's famous “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” track, I thought that was a bit of a cop out. On an album that is from a producer, DJ Khaled really should have focused on making a new sound instead of trying to get people nostalgic about old rap, like he did by sampling Outkast on that SZA track a while back. Lil Wayne’s verse was also underwhelming because it didn’t really add anything new to the track. It was just a standard performance for him.
“EVERY CHANCE I GET (feat. Lil Baby & Lil Durk),” was a way better than I thought it would have been. With a beat produced by Tay Keith, how do you go wrong? Lil Baby sounds good, but he did fall into his own trap where it sounds like he doesn’t open his mouth enough when he raps and it’s harder to hear what he is saying. Lil Durk brought his “A” game on the track. His verse reminded me of something that could have been on Only The Family - Lil Durk Presents: Loyal Bros.
“BIG PAPER (feat. Cardi B)” was kind of a disappointment. Especially coming off of her last hit, “Up.” She sounds flat and her bars didn’t really have anything that remarkable or quotable. The production on the track was also boring and monotone. “WE GOING CRAZY (feat H.E.R. & Migos)” was a nice song on the project. The production was fun and H.E.R.’s flow on the chorus is… well CRAZY! The Migos also sounded like they did on Culture II. The song is great, but it did feel like something was missing in order to have this song be a complete banger.
“LET IT GO (feat Justin Bieber & 21 Savage),” sounds like a remix of “No Brainer.” but a better version. They replaced Chance the Rapper and Quavo with 21 Savage, and it works better than you’d think. Justin Bieber is in his element while he is having fun singing on the chorus. 21 Savage also sounds great on this track as well. These 2 seem to have some great chemistry considering their backgrounds in the music industry, but that’s the beauty of DJ Khaled. Combining random stars and hoping something sticks. “BODY IN MOTION (feat Bryson Tiller, Lil Baby & Roddy Rich)” is one of the better tracks on this project. Bryson Tiller and Lil Baby complement each other very well and Roddy Rich provides a solid verse as well. The production is actually pretty great on the track.
“POPSTAR (feat. Drake)” & “GREECE (feat. Drake)” are definitely the best songs on this project. The beat on “POPSTAR” sounds sinister and the chorus is one of the best choruses Drake has done in a long time. Drake has one of the best verses he has had in awhile as well. “I'm a popstar, but this shit ain't bubblegum, yeah / You would probably think my manager is Scooter Braun, yeah / But my manager with twenty hoes in Buddakan, yeah, ayy / Look, Ariana, Selena, my Visa / It can take as many charges as it needs to, my girl / That shit platinum just like all of my releases, my girl.” He hasn’t had a line this good since More Life or Views. “GREECE” is also another top contender for the best song on the project as well. The chorus is amazing. It’s super flashy, it has a super sexy beat, and with super smooth vocals from Drake, it makes a certified banger. You can tell that most of the time and effort went into these tracks since these top tier tracks do not feel like they belong with the rest of the album.
“THIS IS MY YEAR (feat. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Big Sean, Rick Ross & Puff Daddy)” is pretty bad. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has a horrible verse where he just lists expensive things and that’s it. That performance then leads to a horrendous chorus from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie where it’s just him saying, “When I bust, you just move.” Big Sean is cringey as always. Rick Ross and Puff Daddy didn’t really help the track much at all either.
“SORRY NOT SORRY (feat. Nas, Jay-Z & James Fauntleroy)” was better than what I expected. Nas’s Performance is very similar to any other performances he’s done in the past. Talks about how he is the king, and about his health with some solid metaphors about how he’s “coin-based, basically cryptocurrency Scarface.” The beat was kind of dull, but I don’t mind it because when you have Nas and Jay-Z on the song, you want to keep the focus on them. James Fautleroy’s inflection on the chorus was okay. It just was super auto-tuned, and I think the song might have been better with a more natural approach.
Overall, this album was fun, but doesn’t have much substance since the whole project just felt like one big flex of jewelry, money, cars and girls. This project is fueled by star power where DJ Khaled seems to be hoping that he could leverage that into a number 1 album. The best tracks on this album were songs that we already heard last year and the rest of the album feels like it is living in the shadow of Drake’s features. I wish DJ Khaled made more of an effort on the production on this album. As an album that is created by a music producer, it seems like he cops out at the intro song by sampling a song that was already iconic. It just shows what DJ Khaled is great for. Taking something everyone has heard before and just rebranding it while saying his Khaled-isms.