“Another one” from DJ Khaled – and you know what to expect by now. The eponymous ‘Khaled Khaled’ (Khaled being his first and last names) is the 12th studio album from the playlist-pop hitmaker and dream-collab orchestrator. It’s also a record that does little to switch up the producer-DJ’s tried-and-tested formula of star-stuffed and celebratory summer anthems tailor-made to amp you up, all aided – of course – by the artist’s own motivational interjections.
The guest list for ‘Khaled Khaled’ is so lengthy it’s exhausting to recount. With 28 cameos in all, we’re treated to music’s premium A-listers (Drake and Cardi B), today’s most in-demand names (Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby and H.E.R.), former rap foes appearing on the same track (Jay-Z and Nas on the lavish and nostalgic ‘Sorry Not Sorry’) and the odd brilliantly ludicrous combo (see: Justin Bieber and 21 Savage on ‘Let It Go’). There’s even an uncredited appearance from Beyoncé thrown into the mix for good measure. If you swapped numbers with Khaled at a Grammys after-party once and didn’t get hit up for this album, you should probably feel offended right now.
Luckily, in terms of success rate here, most of the big-name collabs manage to hit the mark: Jeremih is legitimately rousing on triumphant, gospel-inflected opener ‘Thankful’, Bieber’s voice is as flawless as ever and H.E.R. sizzles on sunny banger ‘We Going Crazy’. Cardi B takes no prisoners on the brash and bolshy ‘Big Paper’ and Lil Baby shows why he’s one of the most effortless rappers right now with standout features on the trappy ‘Every Chance I Get’ and R&B smoothy ‘Body In Motion’.
When Khaled does make magic happen, it’s plain to see his brilliance – as when he pairs H.E.R. with a dancehall-infused backdrop on ‘We Going Crazy’, utilising the singer’s silken vocals in a way we’ve not really heard before. But, as with all Khaled albums, there are plenty of misses too. The low points here come when you can’t really hear Khaled’s imprint at all – Drake’s two contributions, ‘Popstar’ and ‘Greece’, could easily be left-overs from Drizzy’s own forthcoming album with a “DJ Khaled!” soundbite tagged at the start. The saccharine ‘Just Be’, meanwhile, sees Justin Timberlake croon over a sample of Jackson 5‘s ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ in a shameless smash-and-grab for a spot on a Spotify wedding playlist.
Overall, this is a slightly hollow, glitzy blockbuster of an album, and we could well be reaching Brand Khaled fatigue very soon. But for now, and after endless hits and three Platinum albums, you can forgive him for refusing to change the blueprint.
Release date: April 30
Record label: We the Best / Epic