Occasionally, highly influential albums are met with initially negative critical reception. The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and The Velvet Underground’s “The Velvet Underground & Nico” both went on to completely change the shape of music in spite of their unfavorable reviews. Hopefully, this is not the case with DJ Khaled’s atrocious 10th album, “Grateful,” or else we may as well start repeatedly jabbing cotton swabs into our eardrums.
For those of you who somehow have not had DJ Khaled shoved down your throat by the media, record producer and Snapchat personality, Khaled Mohamed Khaled has made a career out of yelling his name and various inspirational catchphrases overtop of pop songs he may or may not have produced. “We the best,” “major key alert,” “another one” and “bless up” are typically littered throughout his work, but this album marks a significant change in his sound. Since the birth of his child, Asahd Khaled, the elder Khaled now hollers out new phrases like “I love you so much,” “I’m so grateful,” “yes boy, yes boy, yes boy” and “you’re my son!”
The result is an overproduced 23-track pop catastrophe, with no deeper meaning than overindulging his newborn child. With an exasperating list of guest performers including Beyonce, Jay Z, Drake, Chance the Rapper, Rihanna and Justin Bieber, one could easily assume this would be the greatest pop record of all time. Sure, the lead single “I’m The One” is catchy, mostly due to its minimalistic lyrics like “oh-eh-oh-oh-oh-eh-oh, I’m the one” and its use of the popular I-vi-IV-V chord progression. Beyonce and Jay Z deliver satisfactory verses on another single, “Shining,” that pales in comparison to their greatest hits, but do not offend the ears. Even the third single “Wild Thoughts” is tolerable, but if one had to choose between hearing the other 20 quote, unquote songs on this record versus an hourlong listening session of microphone feedback, they would probably pick the latter.
The majority of this record consists of tracks that leave little to the imagination, such as “Pull a Caper” in which Kodak Black plans another robbery (two robbery charges must not be enough for him), “I Can’t Even Lie” which details either Future or DJ Khaled’s difficulty at being dishonest and “Major Bag Alert” in which the listener is warned of how much money is contained within DJ Khaled and Migos’ bags.
One of the worst songs on the record has to be “I Love You So Much,” which consists of a chaotic Jackson 5-like beat centered around a sample of “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp and an appalling feature by Chance the Rapper, in which he literally raps the alphabet. To top it off, DJ Khaled goes on a rant about how much he loves his son, going on to shout “you’re amazing, you’re handsome, you’re incredible, you’re a genius, you’re my son, I love you!” Yes, he’s referring to his infant child as a “genius.”
In fact, DJ Khaled credits Asahd as the executive producer of the record. Please, just take a second and let that sink in. An eight-month old child was an executiver producer on this record. He is even listed as the sole writer on the last track “Asahd Talk (Thank You Asahd)” which just consists of DJ Khaled thanking Asahd and a clip of a baby, possibly Asahd, laughing. The child could not even talk at the time, and we are supposed to believe he wrote a speech for his father that praises himself. Come on, dude.
One of the most infuriating aspects of the whole album is that DJ Khaled did not even produce a single track by himself. He only serves as a co-producer on 14 songs, and he is not even credited on the other nine. Over a third of the record is not even his own work. At least he is listed as a writer on the first 22 tracks, but that is just because he is shouting nonsense overtop of other people.
It is a total mockery of the music industry, unintentionally serving as a parody of current pop music producers. Even more depressing is that this album was number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart for two weeks. There has been so much great music that has come out in 2017, yet this was at the top of the charts. If there is one thing positive to say about “Grateful,” it is that it perfectly serves as the mind-numbing soundtrack to the modern day dystopia we are currently stuck in.