With the roster of names that Grateful has, one might expect great things. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are together on a track, Rihanna, Lil’Wayne, Chance The Rapper, Justin Bieber, Nas, Nicki Minaj, the list impressively goes on and on. But soon the realization sets in that great things aren’t to be had.
The focus of the album (maybe it’s better off labeled as a playlist?) isn’t so much on the guests as it is on DJ Khaled himself, and his new role as a proud father as he shines the spotlight on his infant son Ashad, who he’s also listed as an executive producer on the album. As touching as that may be, when we get to Chance the Rapper singing the alphabet on I Love You So Much followed by Khaled proclaiming how blessed and loved his son is before closing with a repetition of “where your eyes at/where your nose at,” it’s hard not to feel duped.
DJ Khaled just hosted the ultimate party and invited all the best people, but once he locks the doors, we’re forced to watch his home movies.
But the album has 23 tracks (22 in some regions) so there’s bound to be something worth keeping. It’s hard to justify a double-length album but maybe that was the intention. Having an array of guest stars for us to pick from allows Khaled to have his cake and eat it too. We get the hits and he can talk about his son – no matter who’s listening.
What we can’t skip is Khaled’s shoutouts on every – single – track. 2 songs in you realize it’s only the beginning and you brace yourself for “another one” again and again. Really, the weakest link on the album is DJ Khaled himself. Grateful is full of hits. The chill I’m The One with Weezy, Chance, Quavo and Bieber; the Alicia Keys/Nicki Minaj anthem Nobody; even the Rihanna/Bryson Tiller collab Wild Thoughts, which lacks melody and is over reliant on the Santana sample, is a bonafide smash. The second half flows better though there are fewer standouts, however a case can be made for Fat Joe and Kaekwon bringing 2003 back into the mix on Billy Ocean.
Grateful works as a playlist because you can cut most of it out and still end up with a solid mix of music. But that also means as an album, there’s too much to skip and too much holding it down. A little restraint would have gone a long way.
1. (Intro) I’m So Grateful [featuring Sizzla]
2. Shining [featuring Beyoncé and Jay Z]
3. To the Max [featuring Drake]
4. Wild Thoughts [featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller]
5. I’m The One [featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne]
6. On Everything [featuring Travis Scott, Rick Ross and Big Sean]
7. It’s Secured [featuring Nas and Travis Scott]
8. Interlude [Hallelujah) (performed by Betty Wright]
9. Nobody [featuring Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj]
10. I Love You So Much [featuring Chance the Rapper]
11. Don’t Quit [featuring Calvin Harris, Travis Scott and Jeremih]
12. I Can’t Even Lie [featuring Future and Nicki Minaj]
13. Down for Life [featuring PartyNextDoor, Future, Travis Scott, Rick Ross and Kodak Black]
14. Major Bag Alert [featuring Migos]
15. Good Man [featuring Pusha T and Jadakiss]
16. Billy Ocean [featuring Fat Joe and Raekwon]
17. Pull a Caper [featuring Kodak Black, Gucci Mane and Rick Ross]
18. That Range Rover Came with Steps [featuring Future and Yo Gotti]
19. Iced Out My Arms [featuring Future, Migos and T.I.]
20. Whatever [featuring Future, Young Thug, Rick Ross and 2 Chainz]
21. Interlude [performed by Belly]
22. Unchanging Love [performed by Mavado]
23. Asahd Talk (Thank You Asahd)