Listennn… DJ Khaled’s Takes A Victory Lap With ‘Major Key

DJ Khaled’s I Changed Alot seemed like the end of the era for him. It was his least talked about album, despite bearing a platinum single, and the overall product didn’t stand up to his monstrous discography. Yeah, he had changed a lot, and his success seemed to wane on the same people over and over again. This time even more repetitive than previous years. But something happened after I Changed Alot. Khaled utilized the power of Snapchat to make himself hot again, and, effectively, changing once more.

Second chances come few and far between in hip-hop, but DJ Khaled has earned his. He turned catchphrase after catchphrase into entertaining 10 second videos that lead to a radio show on Apple Music and a deal with Roc Nation. He adopted the word “key” and treated it like his own son. All of this building toward a purpose that Major Key is his biggest album ever. When you’re faced against the odds, this is the type of album you make to show the people that you still got it.

A small portion of Major Key is built around the idea of delivering announcements. “Nas Album Done” is a self-advertisement for Nas’ next album, but it also serves the purpose of building up the hype for it by delivering some strong Esco-bars. Not to mention Nas flipping the album’s title several times in the hook. Khaled wins, Nas wins. On the opposite side, J. Cole’s “Jermaine’s Interlude” is a reflection of depression looming over him, based on current police brutality issues in the black community. He ends with a chilling line: “Said all I can say, now I play with thoughts of retiring.” It could just be the heat of the moment, but this line will be a focus for Cole’s fans for a while. A revelation none of them want to be true.

Elsewhere, DJ Khaled provides an unspoken revelation himself. He built a career upon posse cut after posse cut turned into hit singles, but they are often the weakest links on Major Key. “Do You Mind” isn’t a bad record, in fact the sample flip from “Lover & Friends” is genius, but with a stellar Chris Brown hook and Nicki Minaj, everybody else feels unnecessary, especially Future and Rick Ross. Speaking of which, we also have the millionth Future-Rick Ross-Yo Gotti connection on “Fuck Up The Club.” I’m hoping somebody gives Khaled a cake for his dedication to keeping those three together all the time. YG is thrown in with hopes of adding something new, but the whole combination was doomed from the start. Thankfully, Khaled seems to be able to adapt with less posse cuts and more focused records.

This is where things get a little complicated, though. Some have argued that if Khaled ditches the posse cuts, he isn’t being himself anymore. But, he’s merely just changing with the times. If he was still able to bring six to seven artists on one song and create a hit, he probably would. Everyone needs to try something new, even if it doesn’t result in the idea of what Khaled’s discography was built on.

The best songs come from the combinations of one to two, maybe three, artists. Anymore than that and it starts to feel like a chore to listen to. Having Nas and J. Cole (with EarthGang) on their own records feels special when both MCs don’t really rap as consistent as everyone else. For those who enjoy nitpicking, you could refuse the songs because they’re not Khaled-esque or enjoy them for what they are. There’s other tracks to satisfy that feeling. Bringing together Bryson Tiller and Future on “Ima Be Alright” is a moment only happening on Major Key and nowhere else.

Moments are what still feels fresh when you look back at Khaled’s discography. Outside of the hits, most of the best records are brand new ideas that can’t be found anywhere else. Sure, we can find Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar on the same song already, but “Holy Key” offers two rappers trying to spit their hardest with a message about police brutality. Not every new idea hits, though. Drake’s “For Free” is a lackluster attempt at creating a summer anthem. Khaled even has to convince himself that he helped create another one with a pointless rant at the end.

Luckily, the played-out catchphrases from DJ Khaled don’t interfere with all that Major Key does right. Much like everything in his life, this album is a huge moment. It’s a testament to second chances, while gathering the hottest faces in hip-hop that you won’t find on one album together ever again. They sound like they want to be on Major Key too. Now that Khaled is in rare form again, one can only hope that he can continue the perfect mixture of marketing himself and delivering music. There’s plenty of keys for listeners to soak up, but Khaled can also learn a thing or two from taking in his own work. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a major key to live by.

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