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’KHALED KHALED’ Is “ANOTHER ONE”. Another Painfully Mediocre DJ Khaled Album - Album Review

DJ Khaled likes to think big, a little too big given his transparent intentions. Over the course of the last two decades, Khaled has established himself as a media mogul, beloved socialite, his own hype man, and a musician, among other things. That’s the issue, however. The music has never come first with DJ Khaled, he’s a figure that thinks of numbers before acclaim, and his conveyor-belt rotation of manufactured chart-topping fodder is front and centre on ‘KHALED KHALED’. In true Khaled fashion, he’s assembled a legionnaire of certified hitmakers that’d rival a horde of animals at a zoo, but here there are no rules. ‘KHALED KHALED’ has all these contrasting cogs with no real direction, and his attempts to pave over vapid cracks with sheer-star power lacks the shock factor it had the first five hundred times.

Between an immense 27 man roster, Khaled finds little creativity. His efforts to concoct this one unit of currently trending artists to rule them all make even less sense here than it did on ‘Father Of Asahd’. Khaled is still playing God as he mashes his minions into incoherent oddities. Justin Bieber’s nasally whine and 21 Savage’s emotionless sequence of robotic glitches mix like oil and water on ‘LET IT GO’. It’s the loaded posse cuts that prove just how mad with power Khaled has gone. Both ‘I DID IT’ with Post Malone, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion and one of three Lil Baby features on the LP (each one somehow lazier than the last), and ‘THIS IS MY YEAR’ with Big Sean, Rick Ross, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, and Diddy are muddied free-for-alls where sloshing sub-par performances clumsily overlap.

‘KHALED KHALED’, like most DJ Khaled albums, is an unashamed celebration of common denominators. It’s no short order to dim the charisma of the larger-than-life personalities Khaled enlists to rival his own, but the ring leader is often too distracted making sure the audience knows who's behind the chaotic circus to pay attention to detail. The worst offender is ‘BIG PAPER’. Between a borderline unlistenable hook from Cardi B and poor mastering, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was the result of a five-minute burst of motivation. ‘JUST BE’ is a similar moment of parody. Here, a withered Justin Timberlake adopts a nauseating vibrato, not too dissimilar to Adam Levine’s, whilst undergoing a sense of tacky Disney-fication. It’s the least in tune with the state of pop either artist has been in for years.

Commercial exposure is the name of the game, and the greatest offense is just how clearly everyone is phoning it in to make a quick buck. Nothing suffers more than the writing which ranges from subpar at best, to dreadfully hollow. Lil Baby and Lil Durk gun for the bare minimum on ‘EVERY CHANCE I GET’. Drooling over materialistic delights, the likes of which you’ve heard a thousand times over, the duo settle into a monotonous drive that barely satiates subpar expectations. ‘GREECE’ with Drake is yet another piece of flaccid braggadocio. The crooner struggles to complete a full sentence without at least one slip of the tongue, it’s an endless stream of brand recognition that constantly interrupts the song. In this regard, ‘KHALED KHALED’ is like a superficial crush, adorned with every possible feature you could ask for, yet creatively bankrupt at its core.

The failed cameos are only half of the equation. The failure to assemble his all-star squad is Khaled's, but even more detrimental are his own contributions, or at least the portion that he’s credited for. To the surprise of nobody, the production mostly subscribes to similar levels of mediocrity. It’s frustrating that figures like Khaled have the ability to release tracks as uninspired as ‘BODY IN MOTION’, knowing that his and associated fans will gladly gobble it up due to the names attached to it. The brittle wobbling synths of ‘POPSTAR’ are similarly enough to bore me to death, granted, the fault isn’t solely Khaled’s. It’s become a habit of mine to approach any DJ Khaled album with a healthy dose of skepticism, but when Khaled’s material is as dangerously close to being mistaken for the ‘X type beats’ that rule SoundCloud, no amount of preparation suffices.

If you’re capable of navigating through an endless sea of Khaled’s curated flaws, ‘KHALED KHALED’ might surprise you with spur-of-the-moment individual brilliance. Meek Mill weighs in with heavy confessions about loss and family on ‘I CAN HAVE IT ALL’. It’s part of a scarce collective of emotive performances on the record. Buju Banton steals the show on ‘WHERE YOU COME FROM’ with his cartoonish demeanor. His untouched character oozes eccentricity, something that’s otherwise like searching for a needle in a haystack on the LP. In a drastic turn of events, knowingly or not, Khaled’s overblown ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ sample drowns out stagnant performances from Lil Wayne and Jeremih on the record’s opener, ‘THANKFUL’. It’s Khaled’s shining moment as he breaks bad habits.

Deviance is rewarded when it comes to ‘KHALED KHALED’. The further a song strays from the DJ Khaled formula, the more likely it is to be remembered in any way, shape, or form. The record has its fair share of over-qualified, exemplar students that don’t exactly fit into Khaled’s class of underachievers. Khaled’s fabled anthem crafting talents are finally demonstrated on ‘WE GOING CRAZY’. Equipped with celebratory synth fireworks, a stellar H.E.R. performance, and snappy, albeit crammed, vocal acrobatics from the Migos, it’s an additional Migos verse short of greatness. ‘SORRY NOT SORRY’ is another relative highlight. Hip-hop’s lyrical heavyweights Nas and JAY-Z certainly offer the most intriguing insight into money-making schemes the album has to offer, even if their respective verses are a far departure from their immense standards. Even the best of what ‘KHALED KHALED’ has to offer is swathed in artifice and lacks conviction.

Across a trying fifty-three minutes, Khaled’s shortest, yet still too long album since ‘Suffering From Success’, offers little to nothing that the Khaled brand hasn’t already touched and ruined. Khaled only further proves to be a business genius, that’s far too uninvolved to get the music side of things right. You can practically hear ‘KHALED KHALED’ play in its entirety just by looking at the bloated tracklist and nonsensical partnerships. Despite being exactly what I expected, Khaled somehow manages to underwhelm - even with an entire industry heeding his every command. That’s right folks, it is in fact “ANOTHER ONE”. Another painfully mediocre DJ Khaled album.

KHALED KHALED - DJ Khaled - 2/10

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