DJ Khaled, Kiss the Ring | Album Review
All in all, ‘Kiss the Ring,’ the latest DJ Khaled project, is a well assembled, star-studded affair that rarely misses.
DJ Khaled has always been a hard person to pinpoint – is he merely a DJ, a producer, or occasional rapper? Even with the release of Kiss the Ring, those questions still loom. Regardless, what we do know is “he’s kind of a big deal.” The Palestinian-American musician has a knack for assembling star-studded collaborations and compilation albums. On his most recent project, he serves multiple duties, including spoken word intros, production, songwriting credits, and a legit rap on the “Outro.” All in all, Kiss the Ring is a well assembled, star-studded affair that rarely misses.
“Shout Out to The Real”
“Shout Out to The Real,” features Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Plies. Produced by Jahlil Beats and Khaled, it opens Kiss the Ring capably, characterized by a dramatic opening and exceptional pummeling kick drums and clapping synthetic snares. It’s anchored down by Meek Mill’s hook:
“Shout out to the real n*ggas (Shalom) / And shout out to the real b*tches (say what) / I’m popping bottles with my real n*ggas/ It’s like a full-time job not to kill.”
Bold and overt, the hook sets the tone for the cut for sure. Mill also handles the first verse. Ace Hood takes the reins for the second verse:
“From the bottom to the top, I made it out the gutter/I’m 17 on every scene I need my bread and butter.”
The once-popular Plies handles the final verse, in particularly loud fashion. The biggest quibble with “Shout Out…” is that the MC concentrate too intently on being hardcore, particularly Plies.
“B*tches & Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)”
“B*tches & Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)” features Lil Wayne, T.I., and Future. Produced by Mike-Will-Made-It, the production is ‘da bomb.’ Future handles the autotune laced hook, adhering to the style he made famous (or infamous) on his debut Pluto:
“Let’s get it started, let’s go dumb and retarded/ Let’s get high as we wanna, let’s go and burn up a forest…/ Let’s order b*tches and bottles, b*tches and bottles…”
Wow – wordy, ghetto, and in modern Dionysian tradition. T.I. is “…turned up till my knob broke,” on the first verse, while Lil Wayne knocks out the second verse, expressing his love for “sticky weed and sticky pussy.” All in all, it’s among the best songs.
“I Wish You Would”
“I Wish You Would,” brings in the production talents of Hit-Boy, and features Kanye West and Rick Ross. DJ Khaled sets the tone with an intro. “I Wish You Would” has an edgy sound, locked down by its respective MCs. West handles a solid, if predictable hook:
“I wish you would n*gga…I guess it how I came up / I wish you would try to play us.”
Additionally, he handles the first and third verses. Ross covers the second verse, rapping about money – the usual:
“My corner will scorch ya, somehow my flow the coldest/ Money, power, respect the only thing’s truly important / Family first, Khaled we gotta stay focused / God forgives and I don’t.”
All in all, another winner.
“Take It to The Head”
Keeping the hits rolling, the lush “Take It to The Head” arrives, produced by The Runners. Rick Ross and Lil Wayne reappear, while Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown make their first appearances. After another spirited start by Khaled, Brown breaks into the hook:
“Take it to the head/ Don’t think about it be, about it/ Don’t be scared to take it to the head/ Girl you fly but if I tell you then you might take it to the head…now we gon’ get fucked up, no excuses, no apologies.”
Ross conquers the first verse, followed by Nicki:
“I ride for him, DMV/ Stamina, GNC/ 3 Letters, CMB/ Competition I don’t see any.”
“They Ready” is as solid as anything else, though a notch below the aforementioned juggernauts. Produced by and featuring J. Cole, it also features Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar. The Lamar verse closes the effort wildly. “I’m So Blessed” features Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Ace Hood, and T-Pain. T-Pain is drenched in auto tune on the hook – shocker. Big Sean takes the first verse, asserting himself to be “Self-made, self-paid and I got my city watching.” Wiz half-raps and half-sings verse two, while Ace Hood closes on the final verse. Produced by K.E. On tha Track and co-produced by DJ Khaled, the production work is solid with clapping, pummeling drums and brassy synths.
“Hip Hop” brings on Scarface, Nas & DJ Premier in top-notch fashion. The production starts out more muted before picking up. Even when it does pick up, it’s sound is a bit more intellectual. “Hip Hop” offers more substance. “I Did It For My Dawgz” finds Rick Ross and Meek Mill reappearing while adding French Montana and Jadakiss. The Beat Bully provides dramatic production that perfectly suits Ross’ simplistic, but catchy hook:
“I did it for my dawgz (I did it for my dawgz) …Oh Lord!”
Characterized by clapping and stuttering drums, Ross handles Verse 1, Meek Mill the second, French Montana the third, and Jadakiss closes on the fourth. Perhaps not the ‘cream’ of the crop, it’s solid, if for no other reason than Ross affirming his love for ‘his dawgz.’
“I Don’t See ‘Em”
“I Don’t See ‘Em,” produced by Detail, features Birdman, Ace Hood (again), and 2 Chainz. It’s not bad, but shows a slight downgrade in the quality of the album. 2 Chainz rocks the hook:
“If I stand next to ice, then I’m camouflaged…my future’s so bright, that all I see is stars.”
“Don’t Pay 4 It” features Wale, Tyga, Mack Maine, and Kirko Bangz. Produced by The Runners, Bangz handles the hook, with excellent vocal production and surrounding production. “Suicidal Thoughts” is the weakest point of the album. While the production by Boi-1da is great, it’s hard to decipher Mavado. “Outro (They Don’t Want War)” concludes, featuring Khaled rapping and Ace Hood for a millionth time.
Overall, Kiss the Ring is a solid album. It loses some steam towards the end, but there is no overt miss save for “Suicidal Thoughts.” It’s hard to make a compilation feel cohesive, and like most compilations, this one suffers from that flaw. Well produced, well assembled, and enjoyable, Kiss the Ring is another triumph for Khaled.
Gems: “Shout Out to the Real,” “B*tches and Bottles (Let’s Get It Started),” “I Wish You Would,” “Take it to the Head” & “I Did It For My Dawgz”