2016 was hands down Khaled’s year and contrary to what popular culture might tell you about his recent wins, he’s actually always had the keys to success. It’s just now he’s finally managed to open the doors to mainstream acceptance.
Khaled has had the platinum plaques, he’s had the number 1 hit singles but what he’s struggled to do is win the understanding of those who listen to him. I’ll be the first to hold up my hands and admit that when he first took over the airwaves with the tracks “We Takin’ Over”, “All I Do Is Win” and “I’m On One”, I was surprised that a guy who did little more than scream his name over some of the best feature heavy songs in hip-hop, somehow managed to be credited as the tracks main artist. Let alone get nominated for a Grammy. I’m sure everyone has at one point asked themselves, “what does Khaled ACTUALLY do?”
See Khaled doesn’t rap on his songs, he doesn’t even produce on half of his tracks and although it may have seemed like he was on a Kanye West, ego driven mission to shove his name into your ear drums, what Khaled actually does is be there for us… the fans.
Since we’ve all got to know the ins and out of his daily life through Snapchat as he shared with us the keys to success, from exercising daily with his elliptical talk, to being careful with our finances by “securing our bags”, it’s become all the clearer that Khaled’s main life goal is to help others.
This also transfers into the music he creates. See what Khaled does well like the previously mentioned Mr. West, is he manages to bring together some of the greatest collaborations hip-hop has ever witnessed.
With the release of his 9th major studio album “Major Key” and with a track list that features the who’s who of the rap game (not to mention a surprise appearance from Meghan Trainor), Khaled has once again brought us… ANOTHER ONE.
And he goes to work straight away by bringing us the long awaited team up we’ve all wanted from Jay-Z and Future with “I Got The Keys”. It seems Jay was the final artist we’ve been waiting on to try his hand at riding Future’s wave and he doesn’t disappoint. Is it Jay at his best? Probably not, but do you really care when it’s another trap banger you can add to the set list. The same goes for the second track “For Free” featuring Drake. It isn’t Drake at his best either, it’s Drake for the radio but there’s no doubting it’s another anthem for Khaled, the King of Anthem’s.
And although on paper when the track list was first released these may have been the tracks a lot of people initially gravitated to, it’s later on in the album that it hits its strongest points.
It was Khaled who knew what fans really wanted
Nastradamus hasn’t been on the scene in a while and according to this track he’s been *SPOILER ALERT* in the booth finishing a new album, but when the track begins and you realise it’s Nas over a Fugees sample then you know it’s going to be something truly special. There’s of course no way it could top the last time these two icons of the 90’s came together in “If I Ruled the World” but it’s a serious tune that not only goes hard but manages to evoke all kinds of hip-hop nostalgia we’d long been missing. According to a recent interview, Khaled said many have struggled and failed to clear a Fugees sample, but of course… Khaled has the keys.
But let’s not forget, who it is we have to thank for this? This didn’t come around by some sort of mistake. As hip-hop fans we’ve all been guilty of riding the wave of Future and Migos 808 trap trunk rattlers that have swarmed the airwaves for the past few years. But it was Khaled who knew what the fans really wanted which was some serious rhymes, the return of a legendary lyricist and some classic wordplay over a timeless sample. Even if we’d forgot it ourselves.
And Khaled keeps going as he takes us to church with the real anthem of the album “Holy Key”. Of course you knew Kendrick was going to bring it and of course Big Sean was going to provide his signature wordplay, but it’s 70’s soul star Betty Wright who takes the spot light on the chorus of this anthem. Who knew that Betty and Kendrick would go together so well. Well of course, Khaled knew.
From here on out there’s special mentions to J. Cole who like Frank Ocean on Kanye’s album gets his own interlude, Khaled slowing it down one time for the lovers with “Do You Mind” and a Travis Scott, Lil’ Wayne collab on “Tourist” that do I dare say, Weezy might have bitten from Young Thug? The off-beat rapping style just isn’t our Weezy. Or do I just miss the old Lil’ Wayne (post your hate below). But it’s still an anthem.
And it’s not to say that the other tracks aren’t as good, they all go hard in their own right but they feel more like posse cuts as opposed to the “anthems” that we’ve come to expect from the Miami legend.
As a whole the album isn’t a cohesive front to back listen, I’m sure like most Khaled albums you will have your favourites, take what you want and dispose of the rest. Still what has to be appreciated and enjoyed from this album is that with Khaled’s stock so high right now and everyone in the genre wanting to obtain a key from his success, it might be a while before we see a collaboration album of this calibre again anytime soon.
As the man himself said “this is an album inspired by the fans for the fans” and he has delivered in creating just that. Finally we all understand what it is he does and finally we have all learned to love Khaled. But did you ever really expect it to be a classic album? Of course not, but has he brought you a major key to the hip-hop game… Absolutely!