‘Grateful’ Review: DJ Khaled Works With The Best Artists But Doesn’t Showcase Their Strengths
The names speak for themselves. Imagine Beyoncé, Jay Z, Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Quavo, Lil Wayne, Nas, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Future, Calvin Harris, Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Big Sean, Bryson Tiller, Jeremih, 21 Savage, Migos, 2 Chainz, PARTYNEXTDOOR, T.I, Kodak Black, Gucci Mane, JADAKISS, Young Thug, Fat Joe, Raekwon, Betty Wright, and Sizzla all on one project. That is what DJ Khaled was able to accomplish. Khaled released his 10th studio album, Grateful, on June 23. The project runs for 90 minutes yet falls short of fans expectations.
Khaled's strengths are his collaborators and how he marketed the project. For months Khaled had the world shouting "Did the Drake vocals come in yet?" He managed to make a big moment out of questioning whether music was done being created. Needless to say, he did the same for Rihanna. He stated in many Instagram posts, "They said I couldn't get Rihanna vocals," proving that he is making solid connections throughout his music career. When the track-list for the album released, it was exciting to see which artists were going to be on the same tracks with each other. Let's face it, hearing that Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj were teaming up after their 2012 hit, "Girl On Fire (Remix)," brought back positive feelings of nostalgia.
Don't get me wrong, I really wanted to to like the album. I was one of the fans who anticipated for June 23 and shouted once or 30 times, "Did the Drake vocals come in yet?" However, Khaled didn't do it for me this time. Khaled kept stating that this was going to be the work that earns him a Grammy. The reason why this work won't win a Grammy is because Khaled has become complacent. It seems as if to the listeners, that Khaled chose a nice beat, mainstream artists, and told them "Do whatever." A lot of the verses on the project sound as if no thought was put into it. The tracks don't show off the featured artists true strengths.
As much as we love Khaled's eighth-month year old son, Asahd Khaled, who serves as the executive producer for the project, it's not enough to make the album loveable. Khaled, being the smart social media genius that he is, found a way to intertwine his son into his latest offering every step of the way. Whether that was making sure he was on stage with him during performances or on Snapchat talking to his son about the project.
The best songs on the project are the ones that Khaled previously released before the album's debut. It was a smart marketing move for him to release the BEST songs first. Those songs are: Shining (Feat. Beyoncé and Jay-Z), On Everything (Feat. Travis Scott, Rick Ross, & Big Sean), I'm So Grateful (feat. Sizzla), Wild Thoughts (Feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller), I'm The One (Quavo, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper), and It's Secured (Nas & Travis Scott). To The Max which features Drake, is unfortunately still attempting to grow on me. Khaled took a risk with Drake knowing his caliber, by giving him a beat/tempo that is difficult to love from the first listen.
Intro songs are very important when it comes to an album. Hearing I'm so Grateful as the intro was not disappointing. It was breathtaking to hear something different rather than all the same sounding singles Khaled usually does. Elaborating on that point, Khaled's singles all sound the same because he usually works with the same artists. Future features on five tracks, and Rick Ross, and Travis Scott feature on four tracks. So when Future and Travis Scott are flowing exactly how they did on the previous track, it makes listeners wonder why the track made the final cut. When Khaled does have the chance to team up with Calvin Harris on Don't Quit, the only way listeners know Harris is on the track is by Khaled screaming his name.
There's nothing wrong with having a long album. However, if there are going to be a lot of tracks, they need to be fantastic. We live in a world of music where artists aren't making a solid body of work. Some albums feel like five hit singles and the rest being throw away records. So on a scale of one to ten, the album gets a solid 6.9. DJ Khaled has grown as a social media strategist and the way in which the album was promoted was remarkable. Hopefully, his next offering will be much better.