The Iyanla Vanzant of Snapchat is back with Major Key, the latest in his nearly annual offerings, but this time it's different. Sure, Lil Wayne is on the album, as is Rick Ross, Drake, and Future. That alone might be enough for you to say "meh" and to just wait for the radio singles, right? Bad idea...
In addition to mainstays, we have lyrical juggernauts in the form of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, Busta Rhymes and Jadakiss bowling over tracks. I'm not one to stand in line and hold up a Khaled banner, but this album is diverse, and in the best way possible. How diverse? He's got Meghan Trainor (the All About The Bass singer) on a song with Wiz Khalifa, and it's actually not bad!
I have listened to this album multiple times a day for the last few weeks for two reasons: one, to give you all a fair and informed review, but also because the jawn actually bangs. Khaled has undoubtedly produced the most impressive and complete work of his career, and it shows on the charts because this is also his most successful album to touch Billboard, peaking at number 1 in a variety of categories.
Ok, let's get to the nitty gritty and get the bad out of the way first. As mentioned earlier, there are some mainstays that Khaled probably *had* to put on or their feelings would be hurt. Tracks like "Fuck Up The Club" and "Do You Mind" are in the middle of the album and severely bring down the quality of the scene. The latter is led off by arguably one of Nicki Minaj's worst verses, and it's only barely brought above the surface by August Alsina's crooning. The former is a typical and boring offering featuring DJ Khaled's current plaything, Future, who is featured on four separate tracks, unfortunately. Stay away from those songs, and yes, that includes "I Got The Keys," which is easily one of the worst tracks on the whole thing.
On the good side, however, there are plenty of tracks that serve to drown out the nonsense that is trap-hop. The third song, "Nas Album Done," is enough to wake you up and make you think that maybe, just maybe, Khaled has found the ghost of hip-hop past and brought him into the present. The track gives us two treats, Nas all by his lonesome and murdering a beat, and sworn word by God's Son that his next album is complete and will be released soon. This one is worth repeat listens and Khaled speaks truth when he says "Classic shit, timeless...iconic" at the end of the track, because that's exactly what this is.
The next two songs continue the aural orgasm with "Holy Key" and "Jermaine's Interlude," the former featuring Big Sean, Betty Wright (powerful voice, see about her), and K. Dot. The latter is a singular offering with J. Cole, who definitely has the soul and powerful lyrics to pull it off alone. Both tracks feature the raw energy, emotion, and political drive and ambition that we have learned to love and appreciate from J. Cole and Kendrick, and Big Sean has definitely thrown his towel into the ring to show that he belongs with the New Greats.
Later on, past the Future trash, there is a song that will undoubtedly go unnoticed by everyone. "Don't Ever Play Yourself" is one that you need to look up right now. Yes, right now. Right now. I'll wait for you...ok, you back? Yes, you heard correctly: Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Busta mothafuckin' Rhymes on a track together and that beat is bananas! Actually, Fat Joe is on it too, and he's not half bad. You can't bring your 'C' game to a track with juggernauts like this on a instrumental like that.
Lastly, my guilty pleasure. I love rap songs about love. More so, I love rap songs about how rappers hate falling in love; it's like a guilty irony, as if they're trying to prove to you that they're too good for these hoes...and yet, these ladies keep winding up pregnant (*sips tea*). The #GuiltyPleasure award goes to "Pick These Hoes Apart" featuring a rapper I don't know, a rapper I don't care about, and Jeezy. The slightly melancholy backdrop and Kodak Black's intro actually did it for me, and Jeezy's hook brings it home. The ad-libs are a bit much in hindsight, but it's a catchy tune, and another anthem for the rapping misogynists.
Overall, the album is a solid effort and worthy of its commercial success. Khaled did more than drop "another one" with Major Key, he actually stepped his game up. If you haven't peeped this entire work, you're doing yourself a disservice.
Worth multiple listens: Nas Album Done, Holy Key, Work For It, Don't Ever Play Yourself