Photo Credit: Courtesy of DJ Khaled
There is something confounding about the success of DJ Khaled. Sixteen years, and thirteen albums, into his career, he has yet to release a truly singular piece of work, let alone a masterpiece. To his critics, Khaled simply does what other DJs do but louder and with a more commercial sheen; he coasts off of his meme-potential and A-list featured artists. Garish, yet stubbornly unmemorable, his thirteenth album is unlikely to silence his critics.
For GOD DID, Khaled recruits a roster of talent that is the stuff of DJ dreams; Drake, Eminem, JAY-Z, Kanye West, and the late-Juice WRLD are just some of the stars featured across the album’s 57 minutes. Chalk it up to too many cooks in the kitchen, or just simple complacency, but the results are stunningly underwhelming – A-list talent regularly enters and leaves the world of GOD DID without making so much as the faintest impression. Perhaps the greatest illustration of this is “Use This Gospel,” featuring Kanye West and Eminem. The combination should produce fireworks but instead barely produces a flicker – continuing a trend of the disappointing recent output from both rappers.
At its worst, GOD DID isn’t merely unremarkable but actively unlikeable – loud and cocky yet without having much of note to say. This quality has been present throughout much of Khaled’s work – down to his tags of “another one” and “we the best music” – and can have the effect of making Khaled seem like the butt of a joke that he isn’t in on. If there’s one thing that GOD DID desperately needs is restraint; some level of dynamic contrast. Demonstrative of this is “Staying Alive,” where Drake’s crooning about people wanting him dead is abruptly interrupted by DJ Khaled shouting his own name.
The 8+ minute title track showcases GOD DID’s most glaring shortcomings, as well as its few strengths. An impressive level of energy and momentum is maintained from start to finish and Jay-Z – who remains on top form – provides the album with its most definitive moments. But adding John Legend, Fridayy, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne, pushes the song to its breaking point, and, despite the song’s best moments, it’s plagued by awkward moments – be it poor wordplay (“These is hymns ‘cause I’m him”) or ill-advised references to the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. Both “God Did” and GOD DID illustrate one thing – despite the talents of Khaled and his featured artists, the DJ just can’t help but get in his own way.