Even if DJ Khaled is "Suffering From Success," it clearly hasn't been an impediment to
his hustle muscle. In fact it's the kind of malady most artists in any
genre of music let alone hip-hop would be happy to have. Even though he's
been criticized in the past
for lacking substance, it's hard to argue with the fact that he
assembles an all-star roster
on each album, and invariably each one of those albums drops multiple
hit singles. "Do You Mind" is the textbook example off "Major Key." It's a
who's who of rapping singers and singing rappers - Future, Chris Brown,
August Alsina and Jeremih - plus Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross to bring it home.
The heavyweights only get heavier from one single to the next though as
Khaled brings Future back and then puts Jay Z (sans the hyphen) on "I Got
the Keys." The video is arguably more powerful than the song. It's a
harrowing black and white visual about police profiling and prison overcrowding
culminating in a tense showdown in the yard between an all white riot squad
with their helmets and batons ready - staring into a sea of black men
impeccably dressed like Malcolm X in the 1960's. I love the visuals of the
video but the "keys" being moved have nothing to do with cell block doors.
Neither of these songs are close to being my favorite off "Major Key" though,
an hour long album with plenty of choices and more cameo appearances than just
about anybody in the game could afford. The highlight to me is either the
Nineteen85 and Ullman produced "For Free" featuring Drake or the Cool & Dre
laced "Nas Album Done" which (surprise surprise) features Nas. While so many
of Khaled's tracks tend to be overloaded with talent, it's when he strips it
back to just two or less guests that he unlocked "The Best" he can offer.
I suspect the Khaled produced "Forgive Me Father" will get more buzz though and
is probably the next single given it features Meghan Trainor (of "All About That
Bass" fame) along with Wale and Wiz Khalifa. At times I've questioned what Khaled
does other than collate talent, but when he actually steps behind the boards on a
song like this he delivers a fine effort. He also laces "Jermaine's Interlude"
featuring J. Cole (with help from Hollywood JB) and the New York centric "Don't
Ever Play Yourself" (with help from Qolorsound).
Speaking of collating talent you have to give Khaled respect for the diversity
of regions and styles he f#$#s with in general. It gets hella Southern on "Tourist"
with Lil Wayne and Travis Scott, then Compton meets Detroit on "Holy Key" featuring
Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean. No matter whether or not you agree with his approach
it's hard to deny that it's an inclusive encompassing one and only seems to become
moreso with each passing album.
At the end of "Major Key" I'm left conflicted since I have the feeling my opinion
of it may be higher than that of my peers, and yet I'm struggling to find much to
hate other than the general misogyny of songs like "Pick These Hoes Apart," and the
unbridled hedonism of "F@$! Up the Club." I think that speaks more to my age than
to the songs themselves since it's hard to get down that way if you're not in your
late teens or 20's. Still when the question gets asked over and over again "Just
what is it DJ Khaled does anyway?" I'm going to have to answer "make hits." If
you're not expecting an hour of profound wisdom from start to finish this is an
ideal late summer mixtape to ride around to.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10