Listening to a DJ Khaled album is a lot like eating a bag of trail mix. Sure, whoever made the trail mix was nice enough to throw in a couple chocolate chips or pretzels, but for some reason, they insist on putting in a bunch of raisins too. Very few people have reached into a bag of trail mix and thought “Oh boy, I hope there are still a few raisins in here.”

DJ Khaled albums are much the same. Sure, there are some really good songs spread evenly throughout the album. But for every good song, there’s one that’s equally cringe-worthy. Not to mention the album has a whopping 23 tracks, so having the flow interrupted makes it that much worse.

When at his best, Khaled has one of the best ears for instrumentals. He’s also great at finding the right artists to bust out lyrics over top of them. The luxurious sounding instrumentals of “On Everything” and “It’s Secured” are matched one for one by fantastic features by Rick Ross, Big Sean and Nas. Khaled also captures the essence of new school east coast rap with “Good Man” and the dirty south trap sound on “Major Bag Alert.” I would also be doing the album an injustice by not mentioning the track “Billy Ocean,” which features another rather luxurious sounding beat to compliment the vocals of Fat Joe and Raekwon.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Khaled is a fantastic producer when it comes to matching artists with his beats. But sometimes, he loses focus and tries to make artists fit where they don’t belong. Khaled has never really been known for his conceptualization skills, but when you have a 23 track album, it needs to have some form of substance behind it. Khaled loses focus towards the middle of the album, where he gets into the Interlude by Betty Wright and into “I Love You So Much,” which is one of the worst songs I’ve heard all year. I understand the whole tribute to his 8-month-old son Asahd, but it really doesn’t make sense here.

Grateful is less a unified album and more an assortment of songs you’d see put together on your Spotify Daily Mix. They’re all pretty good individually, but don’t form anything larger than that when put in sequential order. The tones don’t match, the messages are sporadic and some songs are just flat out awful. If you’re going to listen to the album, don’t be afraid to pick and choose the songs you like best and ignore the ones you don’t. It’s much easier to listen to that way.

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