Music Review: DJ Khaled - "Major Key"

Look at Khaled Mohamed Khaled. Sitting on a throne, clad in gold jewelry, his beard so neatly trimmed that his barber could give TED talks to hipsters. The surrounding flower garden is worthy of federal protection, and also there is a lion. There is a lion laying at his feet.

The stunning image represents DJ Khaled's transformation from the guy who yells in the background of your favorite turn-up song to bona fide social media celebrity. After nearly a decade of prolific production of club rap hits, Khaled's profile exploded when he posted video of himself getting lost at sea, rubbing his chest with cocoa butter, and yes, watering his flowers. His motivational phrases and made-up nonsense along the way ("Don't ever play yourself," my personal favorite, is best applied when displaying your sneaker collection to jealous onlookers.) became the internet dialect du jour, reaching far beyond audiences who would normally listen to a hip-hop compilation album.

America, meet DJ Khaled.

Major Key is Khaled's first album since this ascent into the mainstream. As such, it's the first project to benefit from his social media machine. That reach alone will likely propel Key to the top of the Billboard charts. But does the quality match the success

Albums from producers are, almost by definition, collections of would-be singles. With a staggering 32 collaborators (see below), it's almost impossible for Major Key to tell any kind of cohesive story. Instead, we're on the search for anthems.

After several listens, we're still looking.

Some Songs About Which We Have Thoughts

“For Free” (feat. Drake)

If it weren't for the reprehensible subject matter, this song would find itself among the most played this summer. Instead we're stuck with Drake floating the preposterous notion that women should reimburse him for intercourse. Lyrics to make Hugh Hefner blush.

“They don’t want me to have another anthem. So I made sure I got another anthem.” An anthem for who, exactly? Male prostitutes? Small slice of the music consumer pie, Khaled. Have to cast a wider net.

“Nas Album Done” (feat. Nas)

Guest verses often serve as mini-promotions for upcoming projects, but this might be the first time the song title is a literal statement about the status of the featured artist's next album. Throw in what is likely the first reference to a shaving blade manufacturer in rap history and Nas makes his fair share of history on this track.

“Jermaine’s Interlude” (feat. J. Cole)

"Have you ever been as sad as I am?" "If it's anything like this in heaven, maybe I'd be better off in hell." J. Cole, everyone!

 If you make it through the sad-for-no-reason intro, you'll find a surprisingly tolerable energy level from the usually sleepy Jermaine Cole. It's fine, I suppose. The best part is when he says he might retire.

“Do You Mind” (feat. Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future, and Rick Ross)

Apparently recorded towards the end of a summer barbecue featuring everyone ever invited to the BET Awards, this track samples the Lil Jon, Usher and Ludacris collaboration, “Lovers and Friends,” which samples the 2000 song “Lovers and Friends” by some guy named Michael Sterling. It doesn’t really matter what vocals you throw on here. I would listen to Ted Nugent rant about Donald Trump if it were laid over this track.

Other notes:

“Pick These Hoes Apart” (feat. Kodak Black, Jeezy, and French Montana)

If you’re the type of person who would be interested in a song called “Pick These Hoes Apart,” then this track may very well be for you. Otherwise, stay away. Stay very far away. Also, “fuck the blogs” seems to be a recurring lyric from multiple artists on this album, which is like, hey, come on guys.

“Fuck Up The Cub” (feat. Future, Rick Ross, YG, and Yo Gotti)

This song is entirely too chill to fuck up anything other than a Von Maur.

Obviously the inclusion of artists like Yo Gotti doesn't make or break the album. Law of diminishing returns and all that. But it does give us a peek into Khaled's strategy of maximum exposure. Gotti's verse might not add much, but his million-and-a-half Twitter followers have value to the operation. You smart. You very smart. 

Why Are You Here? A Hasty Categorization Of Every Artist's Role On The Album

You Live In Or Around Miami

  • Kent Jones
  • Betty Wright
  • Kodak Black

To Add One Last Entry Into The “Song Of The Summer” Contest After None Of The 20 Tracks On Your Last Album Qualified

  • Drake 

To Make People Really Think In The Midst Of All This Mindless Club Rap

  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Wale

Khaled Accidentally Sent The Same Email To Both Of You

  • YG
  • Yo Gotti

Your Girlfriend Won’t Allow You To Speak That Way In The House

  • French Montana

So You Can Stand Next To Khaled And Show Everyone How Much Weight You’ve Lost

  • Gucci Mane 

To Systematically Dismantle The Last Vestiges Of The R&B Genre

  • August Alsina
  • Jeremih
  • Bryson Tiller

'Cause You Still Got It And All The Kids Listen To DJ Khaled Right?

  • Fabolous
  • Fat Joe
  • Busta Rhymes
  • Jeezy
  • Jadakiss

You Don’t Even Remember Recording These Verses

  • Future
  • Lil Wayne
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • 2 Chainz

You And Khaled Are Secretly The Same Person

  • Rick Ross (Rozay has appeared on 31 different Khaled songs over the last decade. Some coincidence.) 

You Want To Be Paid To Promote Your Next Album

  • Nas 

You Think Ubiquitous Emotional Radio Hits With Pianos Are Your Thing Now

  • Wiz Khalifa

To Prove To Everyone You’re Not Asleep

  • J. Cole

Because You’re Weird

  • Nicki Minaj
  • Travis Scott

It Might Help You Get (More) Girls

  • Big Sean
  • Chris Brown

You’re Khaled’s “Manager”

  • Jay-Z

Because People Can't Just Put You In A Box, Okay?

  • Meghan Trainor |ES|