Hip Hop's favorite renaissance man, DJ Khaled, has released his sixth studio album, Kiss The Ring. Though its no masterpiece, the album does include a few masterful pieces. As a whole, its cool, but its not so special. (In my Mavado voice).
Totaling at just under 50 minutes, Kiss The Ring is short and bittersweet. The bulk of the disc sounds like every song you've heard this year; Upbeat, hollow, and cliched. "Shout Out To The Real" has stellar production, but features Meek Mill doing what he always does, yelling about nothing. Ace Hood's verse is full of underwhelming similes, like "bet that all my niggas ball like I'm Mr. clean." And the hook screams "shout out to the real niggas, and shout out to the real bitches," like we've never heard that before.
I was sure "Bitches and Bottles," which features Future drenched in Auto-Tune and Wale, was the worst song on the album, until I heard "Don't Pay For It," featuring Kirko Bangz, crooning about not paying for pussy, and Tyga, trying his best not to rhyme. Both these songs have awesome beats and sub-par lyrics, which had become the unfortunate standard in popular Hip Hop music.
My heart leaped when I came across "They Ready" featuring J.Cole, Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar, only to fall back down to the floor. J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar brought their overrated swag as usual, and Big K.R.I.T was okay, but the beat was all over the place.
There was improvement with "I Wish You Would," featuring Kanye West and Rick Ross, and "I Did It For My Dawgs," featuring Rick Ross, Meek Mill, French Montana, and Jadakiss. "I Wish You Would" was endowed with fresh production and some of the realest ish Kanye's ever wrote. On "I Did It For My Dawgs," Jadakiss brings the fire as usual while the rest kept up well enough. These aren't the best tracks, but they're far better than the worse.
Even better are "Take It To The Head" featuring Rick Ross, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne, and "I Don't See Em" featuring 2 Chainz, Birdman, and Ace Hood. Its no surprise that "Take It To The Head" was the lead single, or that it made a run on the Billboard Top 100. Chris brown lays down his smooth tenor and boyish charm, while Nicki, Ross and Wayne spit dope verses. On "I Don't See Em," Ace Hood and Birdman drop solid verses, but 2 Chainz steals the show. It his best feature verse to date, as he spits " I'm Criminal minded/ Winter coat climate/ Cold, fuckin' up yo sinus/ Bitches might choke, I'm giving them the Heimlich/ I'm a pimp in my own fucking rhyming, you my side bitch."
The crown jewels of the album are "Hip Hop," featuring Nas, DJ Premier, and Scarface, and Mavado's "Suicidal Thoughts." "Hip Hop" might be the biggest Hip Hop record of the year. Though we've seen Hip Hop personified as a woman before, Nas' and Scarface's take is still original, DJ Premier's scratching is authentic, and The Justice League's production is impeccable. Nas spits the best verse on the album, rhyming "If I cried two tears for her/ That would be the most that I can give to her/ I am Joseph, Darryl, Jayson, Dr Dre, O'shea/ and a host of those that passed away/ today, I'm wayne, I'm Drake , 2 Chainz/ You say you wanna rap to this bitch, you must commit/Then you're a slave to your grave/ You can't get out/ You cannot quit.
Mavodo's "Suicidal Thoughts" merge dancehall vocals with Hip Hop production, and makes you wonder why on earth he doesn't go this route more often. Mavado's toasting over Boi-1da's beat is auditory bliss, and you might just feel like a top shotta when he sings "So suicidal/ first dem ever seen this/ gangster for life/ the realest." Listening to it feels cinematic, as if you're watching a movie play out in your head.
What I can say about this album is that the production is sick all the way through, and the masterpieces make up for the disasters. When its good its great, and when it's not good it still sounds like it is. 3/5 stars.