In November 2015 DJ Khaled was losing steam. His 8th studio album I Changed A Lot flopped, selling only 25k first week, and he hadn’t had a game-changing single since 2011’s “I’m On One.” However, the 40-year-old super-producer revitalized his career through Snapchat; giving the world a look into his very interesting life and dishing out inspirational tidbits we can all take to heart. At the start of 2016 he had become an internet phenomenon; a living meme that represented success. With this new image, Khaled quickly went into the studio to capitalize, using his vast connections to amass an all-star laden lineup in little time. His 9th album Major Key features some of the hottest artists in the game, but the album somehow manages to underperform.
As some of you are aware by now, Khaled isn’t a rapper. His talent lies in getting all the major players in the hip hop world to come together to craft hit after hit. Though he does have writing and production credits on 13 and 5 of the 14 tracks, respectively, the success of any DJ Khaled album depends on how many bangers he can craft utilizing the hottest rappers in the game, and Major Key is no different. With Drake, Future, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, Nas, Big Sean, JAY Z, Gucci Mane, Bryson Tiller and more all on the project, this might be the most stacked roster Khaled’s ever had. However, even with this massive lineup, some songs either sound too forced or just plain sound bland. On single “I Got The Keys,” Hov comes through with solid verses but Future’s hooks make the song too repetitive and tedious. Hooks throughout the album are lacking, whether it be Big Sean’s monotonous voice on “Work For It” or Future’s once again repetitive “F*ck Up The Club,” which sounds like it was written 5 minutes before the album was turned in. “Tourist” featuring Travis Scott and Lil Wayne sounds like it’s on the wrong album, but at least Khaled’s switching it up.
The album’s highlights are when Khaled properly utilizes his roster. On posse cut “Don’t Ever Play Yourself,” Busta Rhymes, Kent Jones, Fat Joe, Fabolous and Jadakiss spit ruthlessly over a sinister beat courtesy of Qoloround and Khaled himself, with all 5 guests executing more than capable verses, Jada and Jones especially. “Do You Mind” samples classic R&B track “Lovers and Friends” by Lil Jon to deliver a sultry banger, featuring three of the genre’s biggest crooners; Chris Brown, August Alsina and Jeremih. While Khaled is known for having multiple artists on one song, ironically some of the best songs on the album are when there’s just one. Lead single “For Free” keeps Drake’s dancehall winning streak intact, while Nas renegades all 31 other featured artists with his blistering lyrical magic on “Nas Album Done.”
Whenever a DJ Khaled album drops, you want to hear at least one undeniable banger; or at least one that will have the club going up. While the project may have those criteria checked off, the record as a whole is pretty inconsistent. The first half is great, but the second half is a major falloff from the former. Major Key does its job, but, like many other Khaled albums, not much else.