For the previous 10 years, DJ Khaled has been hip hop’s brassiest motivational speaker, and lately it seems like the entire world is on his team – from Beyoncé to LeBron to the nation of Belize (which only named an isle after the catchphrase that serves as the title of his new album). Meanwhile, Khaled has become a megastar on Snapchat, where he hangs out dispensing business guidance (“They don’t desire you to win!”) like a cross between Tony Robbins and Diddy.
Khaled’s records are posse-cut extravaganzas, full of bombastic Southern rap, with Khaled functioning as master of ceremonies, hype-man executive producer and. Major Key, his ninth album, is his first since reaching Silk soy-milk pitchman standing. But he hasn’t let his viral achievement alter his tried and true formula. It’s still a blur of T shirt-waving salvos, bass that can carve dunes into the Florida sand, and cameos from every rapper in the world, from Jay Z to Drake, to Nicki Minaj, to Lil Wayne, to Rick Ross, to 2 Chainz, to French Montana, and on and on and on.
Khaled has to admit that hip-hop is now a more serious, politically charged area nowadays, so he occasionally lets some depth and emotion into his Night of 100 Stars gala. Nas is flexible enough to fight racial inequality and shout out Internet memes on “Nas Record Done”; J. Cole gets introspective on “Jermaine’s Interlude”; Future and Bryson Tiller lament some lost loves on “Ima Be Alright.”
Mostly Khaled keeps matters by providing a space for rappers to stretch out and let loose. The greatest moments here feel like studio sessions that are carefree. Big Sean drops some high-velocity berserkness on “Work For,” and Kendrick Lamar uses his appearance on “Holy Key” to give a verse that’s more technically dizzying than anything on To Pimp a Butterfly.
As with every Khaled LP, the end result is a blast in small doses but a little bludgeoning taken as a whole. One vodka Red Bull can get you amped. Knock back 14, and you are in a coma.