Don’t you ever play yourself! If you need a lock picked in life, who do you need to look to? Pokémon go might be harder to catch, but the keys that unlock the real game, the game of life, all lead back to DJ Khaled. There’s a whole new demographic that he’s recently unlocked, thanks to his infectious personality and Snapchat, but DJ Khaled is no new kid on the block. His debut album Listennn… the Album debuted in 2006. With generally positive reviews the album was a good start for a former radio host changing his lane. It also was the first catchphrase we heard from Khaled. He would scream “Listennn” for years to come. His next album kicked in the door as he prophesized “We Takin’ Over” with his lead single that featured T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, Birdman, and Akon. All of these featured artists would prove Khaled prophetic in the fact that despite their prior successes, they would almost immediately after soar to tremendously higher heights following his proclamation. They would go on to run the next decade of the game all while staying close to Khaled as he somewhat documented their rises. Khaled brought unity and “posse cuts” back to a game that at the time was heavily entrenched into “beefing”. The culture had become almost dependent on negativity and picking sides between artists as a marketing plan so what Khaled was doing by getting all these huge artists to continually make records together was a major key. The key was unity and positivity. Khaled became the best pitchman for rappers since Puff. He believed so much in these artists and his ability to blend them together for dope music that he promoted like his life depended on it. Maybe it did.
Fast forward, 10 years and 9 albums later, Khaled HA$ taken over. As previously mentioned, Snapchat has taken Khaled to new heights. I gave back story so his groundwork doesn’t go unnoticed or disrespected (I could’ve went way deeper), he’s been here, but his ascension over the last 12 months have been remarkably inspiring to watch. What’s even more inspiring, is with more attention than ever, he delivered his best album in my opinion. Enter, Major Key 🔑. The very fitting title that coincides with the Khaled’s snapchat motivational speeches. On Snapchat, Khaled is in all his splendor (shirtless most times), at all times, giving people his “🔑’s” for success in life, love, and everything in between.
He opens the album with the Jay Z and Future assisted banger, “I Got The Keys”. Where Jay Z gives some #ClothTalk (Another one of Khaled’s coined phrases for anyone living under a rock). Cloth talk is essentially words from the rare beings. Words from those who have proven to be exceptional. Those who have been proven to be winners! Jay gives what many believe to be stiff jabs to Drake with lines like “Until you own your own you can’t be me”. For backstory, Drake had a line prior that said “I used to wanna be signed to Rocafella then I turned into Jay”. So for two verses Hov carves a line in the sand diagraming the differences. “In real life, I’m #LifeGoals”. While Jay Z, I’m sure, respects Drake’s contributions to the game in his young career, “there’s no shortcuts” is the message I think Hov is trying to convey. With 20 year celebration of his first album, Reasonable Doubt this year Jay is making sure it’s known and not disrespected all the work he has put in.
In true unifying Khaled fashion, the next record on his album is a Drake song, “For Free”. Not a response track to the former, “For Free” is Drake doing what no other rapper can do at his level. That’s thing is being the singer and rapper on a record and singlehandedly make a cross platform hit! Drake croons and spits about being so exceptional in the bedroom that he should actually get paid for it. A bonafide summer smash, “For Free” provides balance from the beginning of where this album will go.
Khaled bounces back and forth efficiently for the rest of the album starting with the remarkable display of pure MC’ing that Nas provides on “Nas Album Done” or Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean provide on the Betty White assisted, “Holy Key” or the peek into the darkness of “Jermaine’s Interlude” magnificently portrayed by J. Cole on back to back to back tracks. He then goes into somewhat of a double-dutch starting with the Bryson Tiller and Future feature “I’ma be alright” as he gives you great combinations of rap and singing for the rest of the album. Not to go unnoticed, Movado ends the album definitively with “Progress”. Movado makes a strong statement for why the dancehall/reggaeton movement is getting so much love and attention right now. Khaled ringmasters a masterpiece. While I feel the middle of the album does have a bit of drop off it’s more so a matter of preference and sequencing. My only skip track right now is the record, “Pick These Hoes Apart” that features Jeezy, Kodak Black, and French Montana. It’s just not my bounce. Which is heartbreaking because I’m a Jeezy loyalist. But I can’t rig the dice. I’m sure it’ll be beloved by most. That also doesn’t take away from the fact that one else could assemble such combinations seemingly effortlessly. Seemingly. Which has always been the most misunderstood thing about DJ Khaled. The casual fan has always been somewhat confused on the work that Khaled actually does. Known more so to them for his always loud and positive marketing than for his ear for music. His relentless pursue of contributing talent and great music. The casual fan didn’t know all the strategy and energy that Khaled has put in just to get here. Snapchat played a major part in changing this. Along with that and so many other media outlets now, you would really have to be living under a rock not to know some of the stories of how Khaled was able to get two Jay Z feature verses. How and why he got Jay Z’s last Rocafella chain (I’m still holding out hope that I will somehow someway get my own). How his process to get Kendrick Lamar verses are completely different from getting vocals from Future. It’s beautiful to watch for someone like myself who loves the purity of Hip-Hop culture almost as much as oxygen. This album makes it even more beautiful to watch because at the end of the day, the most major of the major keys is the music. If the music isn’t right, nothing else matters. With unimaginable hype, Khaled delivered. If I had to rate it, on a scale of dopeness, I would give it 8/10. That’s a MAJOR key!