Grateful is alright. Some good features, but most are wasted. Listen to 'Good Man' though.
DJ Khaled has achieved something of living meme status in recent years. From his notoriously annoying catchphrases (“major key alert”, “another one”, “fan love” etc) to his infamous Snapchat (which stops being funny after you realise he literally posts the same things every day), no-one’s really sure if DJ Khaled is hilariously self-aware or just genuinely strange. However, one can’t deny that he’s become a media mogul, despite the question of what he actually does in the music industry. He’s like the guy at work who everyone’s friends with, but no-one really knows where he came from or what his job is. Still, following the birth of his son Asahd, DJ Khaled’s back with another album, Grateful, which (as he constantly reminds us) has apparently been executively produced by Asahd himself. Perhaps that’s why the album is a bit of a mess.
As with any DJ Khaled album, Grateful is essentially the man himself featuring everyone. A staggering number of artists appear throughout, from legends like Nas and Raekwon to young trappers like 21 Savage and Kodak Black, but unfortunately a lot of them are recycled and most feel wasted. Travis Scott, for instance, appears on four of the twenty-two tracks, yet adds nothing to any of them, his recent sound feeling stale and generic. Future appears on five and being usually reliable for a catchy hook, he just sounds bored here. What about Chance the Rapper’s for-the-kids track ‘I Love You So Much’? He literally raps the alphabet halfway through, whilst Khaled repeats ‘I love you’ over and over again. It’s terrible.
Let’s be honest: Asahd is a cute baby, and seeing all of his and his father’s matching outfits is pretty funny and endearing. But after listening to Grateful, it feels as though DJ Khaled has just paraded his son around as easy promotion for the album. I’d expected a really uplifting project; a celebration of life, perhaps something akin to Chance’s Coloring Book from last year. But half the songs are straight up trap records. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but why, on an album dedicated to his newly-born son, has he got Future rapping “You better hope I don’t OD, I keep a chopper like BG”? Did Asahd approve such lyrics about drugs and murder? How is DJ Khaled going to play the Migos track ‘Major Bag Alert’ for his 8 month old child?! The nature of these sorts of tunes struck me as a bit odd. Grateful could easily have been cut down by ten tracks and turned into a more soulful and focused album, but instead it feels all over the place and, at almost an hour and a half, far outstays its welcome.
That said, there are definitely some diamonds in the rough. ‘Good Man’ is an awesome track, with Pusha T (verse of the album probably belongs to him) and Jadakiss murdering the gritty beat. ‘Nobody’ sounds like classic Alicia Keys, with some great vocals and a big gospel influence (just ignore Nicki Minaj’s part). Also, ‘That Range Rover Came With Steps’ and ‘Down for Life’ are really enjoyable, and look out for strong verses from Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Rick Ross elsewhere. Plus, of course, ‘I’m the One’ remains one of the songs of the summer; had Grateful been trimmed down to just tracks like this and the Beyoncé & Jay-Z collaboration ‘Shining’, it could have become the shorter, sweeter, feel-good album that it should have been.
On the whole, Grateful isn’t anything special. It’s not a bad album per sé, but there’s no real point to any of it. I’m aware that DJ Khaled doesn’t exactly make concept albums (more ‘throw everyone you can find over a ton of beats and call it an album’) but even so, Grateful is too long, with too much filler and wasted potential. Yet it’s hard to critique DJ Khaled albums like other hip-hop projects, because they’re almost in-cohesive by design: by all means, then, find a few tracks you like and ignore the rest. Of course, as executive producer, baby Asahd should take some responsibility for this disappointment – maybe after his first birthday he can get back to some proper production? *rolls eyes*
DJ Khaled is definitely capable of producing huge hits, but Grateful is a step down from his last album, Major Key. So, dare I say it, I guess we should wait for…another one?
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
Grateful is out now via Epic Records