Electric, formulaic, and star-studded—the DJ Khaled game is strong with this album, but will it live up to the legendary hype that it’s been given?
There is a great deal of both good and bad on Major Key, though the majority of the tracks are catchy and addictive. In comparison to his earlier albums, Major Key comes off as a different step for Khaled. This time around, the DJ focuses less on making his jams explosive and loud, and rather he lets the artists do their own things. Of course, this makes the tape very hit-or-miss and polarizing at times. This is where it gets risky.
It’s not very clear if Khaled simply throws enough people on his track that hopefully a hit will arise, or if each feature is a carefully calculated plan to maximize his success. Honestly, its most likely a combination of the two. Even so, with the sheer amount of collaborators on the album, DJ Khaled proves to be too big to fail. Whatever this album lacks is made up for in one respect or another (even if by accident), which gives DJ Khaled a narrow and side-eyed victory.
Check out reviews of the individual tracks and the album rating below:
I Got the Keys (featuring Jay Z and Future)
Easily the worst song of the album. Though it has the means to be a good song, its constant repetition and lack of center wears thin all too quick, and makes it a rocky start to the Khaled tape.
For Free (featuring Drake)
Not quite the “anthem” that DJ Khaled claims it to be, but still not a bad song at all. Drake vibes with the killer beat that Nineteen85 & Jordan Ullman lay down, and he does his thing. Even so, the other solo rappers on this tape go so hard themselves that it’s hard to consider Drake on even footing with them.
Nas Album Done (featuring Nas)
Like you would have expected, Nas tears up a song that had no room for other features. Nas kills each verse both in the lyrical sense, and with his unmatched flow which has not a single flaw. The master rapper stays on point and paints the themes that Khaled tries to convey through his Snapchat “lessons”, though with his own signature theme of musical independence that he has always put up. Nas makes this the greatest solo effort on the album, and has shown he still has the skill from his younger years.
Holy Key (featuring Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean and Betty Wright)
Is very well-rounded and happens to deliver just what Khaled no doubt intended. Of course, like what often time happens in rap, Kendrick Lamar enters on the track and kills what may have been a slightly generic song. This one is a plus as a result.
Jermaine’s Interlude (featuring J. Cole)
This one stands well out from the rest. J.Cole ends the first batch of tracks with this surprising change of pace. He gets deeper and more serious on the lyrics, with a complementary backup from Khaled on the beat. He touches upon similar themes to Nas in “Nas Album Done”, and even rivals him with his own non-conforming style. J. Cole and Khaled truly impress here.
Ima Be Alright (featuring Bryson Tiller and Future)
Future and Tiller are the greatest team on this R&B-filled track, which had both their names on it from the get go. Their vocal chemistry works and they both seem to share the spotlight well. Even Khaled’s echoing shouts, apart from many times disrupting his own songs, feels comfortable here. Another one for Khaled.
Do You Mind (featuring Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future and Rick Ross)
With what seems to be a lengthy collab-list, Khaled pulls off another victory (though shockingly close to failure) in the R&B/Soul department. The stranger to the group here is Rick Ross, who to anyone that has heard each featuring artists’ music could tell you: he is out of place. Although, for whatever the exact reason here, Ross doesn’t get in the way as much as he definitely could have. In fact, despite his shaky and limited performance, the song still boasts an addictive chorus and verses that flow very well.
Pick These Hoes Apart (featuring Kodak Black, Jeezy and French Montana)
A close-call, but is still a success for the album. A Catchy chorus and dope flow from both Kodak Black and French Montana is enough to save this song from questionable bars by Young Jeezy. Chock one up for Khaled.
Fuck Up the Club (featuring Future, Rick Ross, YG and Yo Gotti)
Rick Ross and Yo Gotti rule this poppin’ thug anthem, where YG and Future fall just short of outstanding. Their feature on the track just doesn’t seem as exciting and really brings down the vibe. Despite this, this is certainly not a track to miss.
Work For it (featuring Big Sean, Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz)
A darker and steadier tone that frames the likes of Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz well. However, the odd one out in this is Big Sean, who doesn’t seem to fit in rhythmically or lyrically with the other collaborators. Sean’s verse would most probably be fire on his own album or at least without other features. Taking all of that into account, the song seems too awkward to be called anything but okay.
Don’t Ever Play Yourself (featuring Jadakiss, Fabolous, Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes and Kent Jones)
Perhaps the greatest track on the album. Khaled’s gathering of veteran NY-based rappers and the young, up-and-coming Kent Jones clicks together into an impressive and wonderfully unified song. Interestingly enough, Kent Jones was the highlight of the song (despite being in between some of New York’s finest) with his drake-like vocals and confidently-delivered lyrics. Nothing is out of place here, just a solid lineup with an even more solid performance.
Tourist (featuring Travis Scott and Lil Wayne)
Bumpin’ Thugger-like features from Travis Scott and Lil Wayne resonate well together, but don’t quite seem to hit that gold status that the song is reaching for. After a few listens, the chorus will stick in your head, but it is easily buried in this highly-varied album.
Forgive Me Father (featuring Meghan Trainor, Wiz Khalifa and Wale)
A valid attempt from both Wale and Wiz Khalifa, with a stellar contribution by Meghan Trainor for the chorus. Though, the highlight here is Wiz, who seems to mold his verse masterfully with the other aspects of the song. Despite Wale’s similar style, he can’t keep up with his rapping counterpart, who makes him look generic in comparison. The unevenness of the song leaves more to be desired and so it doesn’t quite cut it as an above-average track.
Progress (featuring Mavado)
Those following Khaled on Snapchat would know that if there’s a genre he loves more than hip-hop, its reggae/dancehall music. And so, it would make perfect sense that the final slot on the album would go to Mavado, perhaps the most recognized artist of the reggae/dancehall genre in American hip-hop. The song has no real wow factor to it, but does well at closing out the album in a very Khaled-esque way.
Favorite tracks: Holy Key, Don’t Ever Play Yourself, Jermaine’s Interlude, Nas Album Done
Amalgam Digital gives Major Key 4 major keys, out of 5.