Following months of promotion and marketing via Snapchat, Miami-based record producer DJ Khaled finally released his most anticipated album, Major Key. The album cover art captures Khaled sitting on a throne surrounded by flowers and a real life lion. This is his ninth studio album, released on July 29. It was distributed by Epic Records and We The Best Music Group.
The album consists of 14 tracks. Each song brings a unique sound to the album. The album demonstrates Khaled’s ear for versatility and his knack to create singles and club bangers, as he takes listeners on a journey of trap, hip hop, and R&B infused records. Arguably one of the biggest albums of the year, Khaled brings together a powerhouse of collaborators such as Nas, Future, Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, Big Sean, Jeremih, French Montana, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Busta Rhymes, just to name a few.
On June 17, Khaled premiered the album’s lead single, “For Free” featuring Drake, on Beats 1 during an interview with Zane Lowe. Drake owns the song, laying down a catchy hook and smooth verses over the upbeat production, making this track a summer anthem. The single contains interpolations of Akinyele’s “F*ck Me For Free,” a sample of lyrics and cadences from Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle,” and references from Kendrick Lamar’s “For Free? (Interlude).”
The album’s second single “I Got The Keys,” featuring Jay Z and Future, was one of the most anticipated songs from the album. Incorporating Khaled’s famous Snapchat mantra “major key,” the track is an anthem for success. While Future provides a catchy hook, Hov doesn’t hold back, lacing the track with hard-hitting verses as he reflects on his accomplishments with his braggadocious style. The music video premiered after the 2016 BET Awards. It features numerous rap stars in suits captured in black and white. However, many fans expected more from this track, and the repetitive hook causes the song to take a backseat on the album.
Continuing to play on Khaled’s “keys” theme, he takes listeners to church for “Holy Key” featuring Big Sean, Betty Wright and Kendrick Lamar. The track contains a deeper message tackling issues in society, as Sean and Lamar use their lyrical ability to trade verses on religion, politics, discrimination and police brutality, while Miami native Betty Wright contributes powerful soul-filled and choir-like vocals.
One of the most heartrending songs on the album comes from North Carolina rapper J.Cole on “Jermaine’s Interlude.” With vocals from Earthgang and J.I.D., the production has a heavy dark tone. Cole expresses his thoughts on the evils of the rap industry including soul selling, black-on-black crime and police brutality. It leaves listeners with the final thought of him possibly retiring from music. The personal aspect and emotion in this track provides a balance in contrast to the overall sound of the album.
Overall, Khaled does an impressive job of providing a little bit of everything to accommodate every kind of fan. Although some tracks have more replay value than others, the album is filled with cloth talk and major keys to keep you away from “they.” The album was number one on iTunes, selling 95,000 in the first week.