For some reason, they keep letting this Khaled guy release records. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were actually good records and at one point, there was some novelty to having every artist from the South not currently incarcerated (and Fat Joe) on a single track with Akon or T-Pain on the hook. Too bad that idea got stale right after Khaled’s second album hit stores…4 YEARS AGO. But for some reason, Khaled continues to have a recording career despite the fact he has little actual musical talent (I mean, he says he’s a producer but 1 beat every 3-4 years? That’s not a career as a producer. That’s a hobby). At any rate, this time around, Khaled managed to link up with Cash Money Records for album number four, the modestly titled We The Best Forever. The first single, “Welcome To My Hood“, takes the Khaled blueprint to its peak but neither it, nor it’s over the top remix (including a hot 16 from DJ Khaled) made me blink an eye. Heard it before, seen it before. Meh. Nice try. The second single however, fares a little better.
DJ Khaled Feat. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil’ Wayne – “I’m On One” (Cash Money/Universal)
For starters, instead of one of Khaled’s usual production go to’s (ie. Cool & Dre, The Runners, DJ Nasty, Danja) the instrumental for “I’m On One” is provided by up and coming Toronto producer T-Minus (who’s produced records for artists like T.I., Ludacris, Nicki Minaj and Birdman, and shares co-production credits on Drake’s “Replacement Girl” with Boi-1da). A softer take on Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” with a touch of T.I.’s “Popping Bottles” frenetic energy, “I’m On One” is a sort of midpoint between the two tracks and the beat has an added ethereal quality courtesy of Noah “40” Shebib, who also gets credit as a co-producer. A part of the collective of beatmakers working on Drake’s sophomore album, Take Care, T-Minus’s instrumental could have blended in seamlessly on his last album, Thank Me Later. which bodes well for the sound of his next one.
Speaking of Drake, everybody’s favorite Canadian has taken on somewhat of a lowered profile since the success of the aforementioned Thank Me Later. “Moment 4 Life” and “Aston Martin Music” aside, Drake’s been relatively low-key for the past 6-7 months, and you know what? After being bombarded by the YMCMB Hype Machine for the better part of last year, it was a smart move. Drake does his usual thing, bouncing between singing and rapping on both the hook and his verse but the integration between the two, the way he slides from one form to the next with ease…it appears Drake’s actually getting more comfortable making those transitions, if that’s even possible. Or maybe it’s the obvious emphasis he’s put on his rapping that makes the switch between the two extremes seem that much smoother. It’s strange to hear Drake spit from a perspective other than that of “the underdog”, but “I’m On One” is one of the few times he allows himself to really enjoy his success, chastising new jacks* for thinking “it all comes so easy” (“But get it while you here boy, cause all that hype don’t feel the same next year boy, yeah/And I’ll be right here in my spot wit a lil’ more cash then I already got, trippin’ off you cause you had your shot”). But even when he stunts on em’, Drake plays the perpetually nice guy and blames it on purple Sprite and youthful exuberance. Switching it up with a double time flow, Drake dances on this one (“With my skin tan and my hair long and my fans who’ve been so patient/Me & 40 back to work but we still smell like a vacation/Hate the rumors, hate the bullshit, hate these fuckin’ allegations/I’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking…watch me take it”) in a way that reminds you why you caved in and fucked with his music in the first place…despite the fact that he’s a backseat nigga.
With all of the “buzz” surrounding his label signings and his Self Made compilation, I thought I had finally begun to hear a little bit of complacency (along with a healthy dose of redundancy) creep into some of his recent work . Songs like “John” and “Made Man” got some spins on my iTunes, and “Tupac Back” goes hard, but that doesn’t excuse it from being a low-level “B.M.F.” knock off or Ross’ material for beginning to sound like his M.I.Yayo documentary with a Hollywood budget. His verse here is no different, but although the subject matter has been beaten to death (by a C.O. no less!), Ross never runs out of new ways to paint the same pictures. From a technical standpoint, Ross has this “Boss” shit mastered, and when he’s on point, he’s all imagery and alliteration, using ad libs and enunciation to punctuate every bar. “Walking on a cloud, suspended in thin air (Yeah)/The ones beneath me recognize these red bottoms I wear“. It’s lifestyle music for the
liar dreamer. When Ross asks “Have you ever made love to the woman of your dreams, in a room full of money out in London as she screams?“, I doubt he’s even experienced that himself. But the ability to tap into those vividly lucid dreams of “Dopeboy Opulence” is why Ross’s shtick won’t get tired anytime soon. It’s the equivalent of the Blaxploitation movies of the 70’s. But instead of Fred Williamson in Black Caesar or Ron O’Neal in Superfly, we get William Roberts as Ricky Rozay. Mindlessly entertaining. Just don’t expect great acting…or a sensible, believable plot. But therein lies it’s charm.
Reactions to Wayne’s post prison output has been mixed and that’s mostly due to his new (and probation approved) sober delivery which trades the hyper active antics that fueled classic mixtapes like The Drought 3 and Dedication 2 in favor of a much more subdued and deliberate flow. Even though the subject matter now is the same as it was before he did that bullet on Riker’s, there’s definitely a different vibe to his verses and even here, following two especially potent performances from Drake and Ross, Wayne’s third verse kinda changes the energy of the song. For those of the mindset that Wayne fell off since going to jail, there’s a clunker of a line or two (The “Maid Nigga” and Olive Oyl ones were particularly hard to sit through) and a Drake inflection that I’m hoping doesn’t carry over to Tha Carter IV, but there is something to be said for the way his usual dry wit (“Too much money ain’t enough money/You know the Feds listening- nigga, what money?“) is now acerbated by a matching delivery. Instead of wildly dominating beats as he has in the past, on this one, Wayne lays back on the track, flowing with a veteran’s detachment that insinuates the effortlessness of his bars nearly as much as back when he was releasing what seemed like a mixtape’s worth of music a week. I’m not saying that Wayne’s completely avoided the dreaded fall off that rapper’s inevitably experience after a prison stint. I’m just saying, on this one, it works.
With Cash Money, Terror Squad, Universal/Motown and Khaled’s own We The Best label, that’s 4, count em, 4 imprints on the back of that album cover. Khaled’s gonna end up owing Baby and Slim his vacation property in Palestine (right next to Osama’s crib) if this album doesn’t do some decent numbers. As much as I’d like to see every future attempt at a Khaled single fail as miserably as Ace Hood’s career, I have to admit, the guy’s actually got a hit on his hands (even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of it )
Who said that Muslims and Jews couldn’t get along?
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