DJ Khaled Grateful Album Review: The Snapchat King 10th album is nothing but an expression of fatherhood. The album graced a list of features artist from all genres.
ASAHD KHALED – GRATEFUL
Since the birth first child, a boy named Asahd, was born last fall, DJ Khaled has been living in a Huggies commercial—a soft-focus, blissed-out, brimming-with-pride advertisement for the joys of parenthood. Daddydom has been good for the king of the most self-interested social-media platform, Snapchat. Instead of shouting, “We the best,” he’s now shouting, “He’s the best.”
Asahd is not only pictured on the cover of DJ Khaled’s 10th album, Grateful, which clearly was named in tribute to him, but he also appears on the cover art for four of the album’s singles, and he’s the subject of three (“I Love You So Much,” “Asahd Talk,” “I’m So Grateful”) of the album’s whopping 23 tracks. The number is meant as a nod to Asahd’s birthday, October 23; the tracklisting was selected in part, DJ Khaled has said in an interview, according to Asahd’s rapturous reaction when Khaled played him potential songs, which is why the boy also has an executive producer credit. Khaled even convinced Chance the Rapper to sing an interpolation of “The Alphabet Song.” In a world where too many kids get too little love, DJ Khaled is obsessed with his son, and that is beautiful.
DJ Khaled Grateful Album Review
Unfortunately, very little of that heart made it into Grateful, a bloated album that’s full of too many plastic tracks with a shiny list of features—from Rihanna and Future to Justin Bieber and Calvin Harris. Name a big name and it’s probably here—that seem primarily geared toward capturing spots on bland-as-baby-food pop-rap radio playlists.
To that end, Grateful has been very successful. It nabbed the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 charts and already has produced three mega singles, two of which are indeed album standouts: the glitzy “Shining,” featuring the country’s most glamorous couple, Jay and Bey; the pool-party staple, “I’m the One,” with the Biebs, Quavo, Chance, and Lil Wayne; and the dud of the bunch, “Wild Thoughts,” which couldn’t even be saved by Rihanna, Bryson Tiller, and a sample of Santana’s “Maria Maria.”
With the exception of “Wild Thoughts,” the first quarter of the album moves at a good clip. “To the Max” (featuring Drake) and “On Everything” (featuring Rick Ross, Big Sean, and a Travis Scott hook that almost derails the song) are high-octane club hits. Their racing pulses a nice injection of urgency in such a long project. After that, however, it’s hit or miss. “Don’t Quit,” produced by Calvin Harris and featuring Travis Scott and Jeremih, is a more sophisticated song-of-the-summer contender than the blatant grab of “I’m the One.” But while its heart is in the right place, “I Love You So Much” comes off as try-hard and saccharine; despite having what should be a dream team, Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj, “Nobody” never manages to gel.
Many of the songs on the second half slide into each other in a forgettable jumble, but Grateful’s best songs are here, too. Belly is whip-smart and effortless on “Interlude.” “Iced Out My Arms” (Future, Migos, 21 Savage and T.I. all come ready to play) is a woozy post-game song with a sharp edge, an off-kilter lullaby to wind down the after-after-party. Taking the crown, though, is “Good Man.” Imbued with surprising warmth thanks to Cool & Dre, the production is custom-fitted for Pusha T and Jadakiss to drop in and do clean, tight work like the consummate professionals they are.
But Khaled will have to teach Asahd the value of editing and restraint, because the good gets lost here. (Then again, this is a man whose tagline is “Another one.”) Too often, more is just more, and the slickness with which Khaled packages his product feels mass-produced for maximum impact, and calculating in a way that clashes with his fatherly quirk. As it is, Grateful is as over-processed as a Pop-Tart, and we all know Khaled would never feed Asahd one of those things.