DJ Khaled 


When you think about it, there's a lot of merit to starting a commercial hip-hop album with a sermon. Most of the genre is about getting on one's hustle, so why not use "getting on" as a governing metaphor? Ergo, the intro to DJ Khaled's new joint, Victory: "In life, there's people that hustle. In life, there's people that grind. And there's We the Best, that make history," Khaled growls in the opening lines of what's essentially a two-and-a-half minute encomium — to himself. ("We the Best" refers to Khaled's label and his 2007 album. It's also a royal "we.") It seems Khaled made the right choice by starting on a crescendo. He set the pace for eleven more blistering tracks that all hew to the theme of struggle and redemption.

Such Calvinist mores might seem out of place in a medium that's known for libertine lyrics and dissolute lifestyles. But Khaled Bin Abdul Khaled is no ordinary rap artist. Based in Miami, he's a mixtape producer and radio personality who somehow became a rap titan in his own right. Victory is the fourth album in Khaled's triumphal discography (his third was called We Global). It's thoroughly gripping, filled with marching-band drum fills, synthetic strings, and cinematic chord voicings. Every song seems to rest on a perfect fifth interval; all of them could easily be a remix for "Chariots of Fire." Khaled even manages to make T. Pain's AutoTune vocals sound big and masculine. (All I do is win win win, Pain crows on the first hook.)

Yet it's unclear to what extent Khaled contributed to the actual artistry, aside from setting the tone. The best tracks — "All I Do Is Win," "Killing Me," Put Your Hands Up," and "Rockin All My Chains On" — succeed more because of the raps than the production. Busta Rhymes snarls wonderfully on the dancehall-influenced "Killing Me." Ludacris' quick-fire cameo on "All I Do Is Win" surpasses most of stuff he records on his own albums. With those guest stars taken into consideration, it's uncertain whether Khaled deserves the self-congratulatory album title. A "victory," yes — but one wrought with a lot of help from friends. (E1)


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in CD Reviews

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Taste, Fall 2016

Everything you need to know about dining in and out in the East Bay.

The Queer & Trans Issue 2016

Queer and trans coverage contributed by individuals who identify as queer or trans.

© 2016 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation