DJ Khaled- Kiss The Ring
He’s a hit maker. He’s a Grammy award winning DJ. He’s a mogul. Whatever you want to call him, Khaled Mohammed Khaled, better known as DJ Khaled, has been claiming that he’s the best for years now. Since 2006 you’ve heard him chant his signature “we the best” on track after track, but now the veteran DJ puts his reputation on the line with his sixth studio album, Kiss The Ring and without much surprise, he doesn’t disappoint.
If there’s anything that DJ Khaled can do better than anyone else, it is bringing the best artists together for collaborations. He has lined up the who’s who in rap for his latest album with the likes of 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and I’m not even halfway done with all the features. Khaled basically took the entire rap game and squeezed them into a 12 track album, 14 if you buy the deluxe edition. It feels more like All-Star weekend than it does an album, but don’t get star struck because there is a lot going on here.
Nearly every song on this album has potential to be a radio smash and some have already begun to do so. Take It to The Head, the first single released off the album featuring Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne has already cracked the Billboard Top 100, so far peaking at 58 and currently standing at 76. It has also made it to the sixth spot on the top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop songs. I Wish You Would featuring Kanye West and Rick Ross, with production handled by Hit-Boy, has gathered a lot of internet attention in the last few weeks. Yeezy and Ross are no strangers to a Khaled project and mesh well. More or less you could choose a song on the track list with your eyes closed and chances are you have selected the next hit.
Khaled’s been able to basically get every major label in rap to join together for this album, pleasing nearly every hip-hop head. He’s got G.O.O.D. Music, MMG, Young Money, Cash Money, The Roc and Def Jam together all in one record. His selections all fit well for a strong product. He’s no rookie; he wrote the recipe for making collaboration records. Gather up the all-stars, sprinkle on the hypnotic hooks, drop a few surprises in there, mix them all up and let them cook over some fire beats. Viola, you’ve created a hit record. All the radio songs are to be expected on an album like this, but what’s nice is that DJ Khaled mixed in songs for fans of traditional rap and intellectual rhymes.
Nas, Scarface and DJ Premiere come together on Hip-Hop, paying homage to the game. Hip-Hop is personified as a woman and she’s a cold bitch. Nas laments about his love/hate relationship with his woman: “but she’s the object my affections, God’s essence, God bless her/ She brought me Bentleys, Breitlings, made some friends resent me/ For writing about my life, they thought I should have stayed quiet/ She took me to places I would have never saw without her/ And she took me from my girl powder/ I doubt I’ll ever be the same, hallowed be thy name/ Give me strength so I don’t do this dame like Orenthal James.”
On They Ready, Khaled recruits J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T. for some sophisticated southern flavor only to be interrupted by Kendrick Lamar, but it’s a welcomed interruption. In the song, three of arguably the best storytellers in rap come together to offer their three distinct flows over a beat produced by J. Cole. The three styles blend together nicely for a refreshing switch from radio anthems.
As good as the lineups are however, compilation albums do tend to get kind of stale after a while. Unlike a regular album, which has more fluidity and conceptualization, this album does have a repetitive feel because it is basically a stack of singles. This is to be expected however because Khaled is a DJ and not a rapper, but he does spit a verse in the Outro with Ace Hood. Even though it sounds like Rick Ross wrote it for him, it’s not half bad, but he shouldn’t quit his day job. As annoying as his ad-libs get, it’s better for him to stick to that instead of rapping. All the expected themes are present in this album, following the words of the Lox, it’s all about money, power and respect and all the things that come with it. Prepped to take over the radio, it’s got everything you would expect in an album like this. More or less, it does not matter if you listen to this album in order or on shuffle because the songs don’t overlap, but that is something that should be expected when buying a DJ Khaled album.
Overall it is a very complete product. The features are on point, the production is strong and it has something to please just about any hip-hop fan that listens to it. Kiss The Ring feels like the most complete DJ Khaled project in his career. It’s high energy and entertaining, but much like a light bulb, if you leave it on for too long it eventually starts to fade out. Whether he actually is “the best” is up for debate, but he’s still one of the greats and knows how to make a hit record.
-Review by Carmine Colangelo