Hip-hop extrovert plays it for kicks on an all-star project…

Few people have the clout DJ Khaled has built. One of hip-hop’s most universally loved figures, his address book is a glittering array of top tier names. New album ‘KHALED KHALED’ underlines this, reinforcing his role as a true 21st century rock star, someone who is able to call on the best, and use this to his advantage.

Succinct by the standards of some hip-hop projects – a slimline 13 tracks – it’s a helter-skelter movement through his influences, ranging from stadium trap pyrotechnics through to reggae and a sample of Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’. Continually keeping you on your toes, it’s sheer breadth – Lil Wayne opens the record, reggae icons Buju Banton and Barrington Levy close it – is tied together by an infinite array of chutzpah, and of course that addictive ‘DJ KHALED!’ ident.

‘Thankful’ is a potent opener, before ‘Every Chance I Get’ supplies a real golden moment. ‘I Did It’ is a fiery team up between the producer, Post Malone, and Megan thee Stallion, before DJ Khaled coaxes a sombre vocal from Justin Bieber on ‘Let It Go’.

A full throttle experience, ‘KHALED KHALED’ plays it for kicks, a record that side-steps subtlety and doubles down on sheer enjoyment. Drake’s appearance on ‘Popstar’ continues the Toronto icon’s run of headline-grabbing features, and the much-speculated upon Nas and Jay-Z link up on ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ is one for the history books. Two of New York’s premier rap bards going toe to toe, it’s a sign that DJ Khaled’s exuberant positivity can cure all ills – perhaps he should try the Middle East, next?

Justin Timberlake’s appearance on the more downbeat ‘Just Be’ taps into his Millennial phase, before Drake returns on ‘Greece’. Ending with the tag-team-reggae burner ‘Where You Come From’, the producer – aided by his two sons on executive producer roles – never once fails on a record marked by directness and an inexhaustible supply of club-focussed ideas.

Never subtle but always entertaining, ‘KHALED KHALED’ is a wild ride, a rollercoaster that clicks into gear just as the world begins to re-open.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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