Hip-hop is never just one way. There are facets, pieces, and parts that are wholly unexpected to us. Parts are built to include regions, slang, and cultures of a particular region. I have previously spoken of the South and our contributions to hip-hop. Other facets of the genre include types of hip-hop. There are too many to name here so I will just reference the one I'm inferring about here.
I speak of the guilty pleasures in hip-hop. You know the songs, the ones that are wholly abrasive or on one note. Despite that you LOVE them. Take a moment to think about a few of your guilty pleasures. I'll wait.
For me YG's "Racks" is at the top of the list followed closely by snap music, 2 Chainz, and anything written, including, or put together by DJ Khaled.
Now that I say it out loud I realize that DJ Khaled constitutes a guilty pleasure for all of us. You despise how annoying his ad libs and his voice is but you know the words to plenty of the tracks he was at the helm of. "We Takin' Over", "Go Hard", "Out Here Grindin'" and "All I Do Is Win" are a few of them that come to mind most easily. There are more but as previously stated we don't want to be at this all day.
Based on that I figured that Khaled's most recent effort, Kiss The Ring, to be a lot of the same old fare. I was only partly right here. Allow me to elucidate a bit further.
A few of the tracks on this album are admittedly no my favorite. For example, "Shout Out To The Real" was one of them. In theory this one should be a great song for me to listen to because I love featured artists Meek Mill and Ace Hood.
Mostly I tolerate Plies.
To me, the song is just a lot of already trod ground. Don't get me wrong, the flows are top notch (Plies tries really hard, actually). But mostly when I hear this one come on I have the great desire to turn. The same could be said of "Bitches & Bottles (Let's Get It Started)", although it has since grown on me. T.I. is amazing, Future is oddly catchy as always. I think Lil' Wayne may have killed this one for me. A shame really, since I was rather high on him late last decade.
The good tracks start with "Take It To The Head". Honestly what's better than a song about drinking? A song about drinkin with Chris Brown on the hook. To add to my level of happiness Rick Ross' verse comes through first, complete with a small trademark grunt. From Ross we go to Nicki Minaj, who has been hit or miss lyrically for me. Here she hits the mark. Even my slight disdain for Wayne (look at me ryhming) ebbs slightly on this track. The best part of this track is very few ad libs from Khaled. Much appreciated.
"They Ready" is someone's really good idea. Not sure whose, though. The track puts J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar on one track and lets them go. What could go wrong here? Nothing. Hence the glowing praise.
"I'm So Blessed" is another one of my favorites. T-Pain, the master of the hook, gives another great one here. He is joined by Big Sean, Ace Hood, and Wiz Khalifa. It's like a all-star roster for this one. It's motivational without ramming God and His blessings down your throat. I can appreciate that.
The best track on the album on this album to me is "Hip Hop". This one was something of a shock. Why? Because it's a deep extended metaphor that I never would have expected from a DJ Khaled effort. Over a DJ Premier beat, two legends let go. Scarface and Nas speak of their love/hate relationship with that cruel and beautiful mistress hip-hop. The beat is heavy and inspires introspection and head nodding. NOTHING I say can prepare you for how amazing this one is.
DJ Khaled crafts antoher decent album here. Give it a listen and garner your own opinions.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine