Rating: 7 / 10
Whether you actually enjoy his music or not, there’s no denying the fact that DJ Khaled’s had his hand in some of the biggest urban radio singles since his arrival on the scene. Initially known to some as a Miami DJ, but to most for his connections with Fat Joe and Terror Squad under the alias “Beat Novacane”, he eventually started using his DJ powers with bigger ideas in mind, which culminated with Listennn… The Album. Even from the beginning, Khaled had a knack for pulling off cameos that others couldn’t, such as the Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss-assisted “Problem” (keep in mind at the time, it was well-documented that they had issues with each other).
Since then, Khaled’s been pumping out hit after hit with a relative high level of success, although anyone could see it was somewhat formulaic and based on who was hot at the time. With the release of his latest LP Kiss The Ring, he continues that same trend for the majority of the album, making this unfortunately sound like the type of project we’ve heard from him in the past.
If you’ve enjoyed his albums previously, then that shouldn’t discourage you. Khaled has still assembled an all-star cast for almost every song, and for the most part, he does his best to keep his ad-libs out of the way of the verses and hooks. The beginning and end of those songs, however, is a different story, and the outro (“They Don’t Want War”) is a completely different beast altogether, as Khaled decides to try his hand at rapping again (and a 20-bar verse at that). Thankfully, this is the only track that he raps over, and he lets his guests do the heavy-lifting beforehand.
The production is handled by an assorted cast that includes (but not limited to) Hit-Boy, The Runners, J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Mike Will, and DJ Khaled himself). The album features are also somewhat redundant, as Ace Hood, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, T-Pain, Kirko Bangz, Future, Mavado, and most of YMCMB, MMG, and others all deliver verses that you’d expect, with the exception of the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony flow that Wiz Khalifa utilizes successfully in “I’m So Blessed”.
Chances are you’ve already heard the singles that could be bigger than the LP; “They Ready” has J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T. delivering their Southern philosophy, only to be interrupted at the end by Kendrick Lamar (“But don’t forget about Compton, n*gga!”) as he spits yet another dope, charismatic verse. “I Wish You Would” features Kanye West and Rick Ross, and it conjures up images of mixtape Yeezy from another Khaled single, “Go Hard”. Lastly, “Hip-Hop” has Scarface and Nas rhyming about her in the most literal sense, and DJ Premier acts a fool with the scratching skills throughout the track. This could be one of the best tracks that Khaled’s ever orchestrated, but it’s unfortunate the rest of the album is lackluster compared to this or the other aforementioned tracks.
DJ Khaled’s Kiss The Ring isn’t a bad LP by any means, and the highlights make the LP truly worth giving a spin, but it’s hard to fight the feeling that we’ve heard the rest of the album before. It’s still the same formula that Khaled been giving us for six years during his run, and although it would be nice to see Khaled take more chances musically, it’s easy to argue that he’d be crazy to try and tamper with something that works for him. To be honest, Khaled fits right in the pocket with this type of music. If that’s a good or a bad thing truly depends on your perspective.