Death of the Critic

Grateful - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


I wanted to like this album so much more than I did. There is something amazing about the lengths that DJ Khaled has gone for his newborn son, Asahd. Grateful is an album in his honor, and from its creation to its legacy, Khaled kept his son involved. The cover art for the album is even a picture of the (admittedly adorable) toddler posed in the corner of a pool, as if to copy so many who came before.

But the problem is that none of this loving heart seems to be found on the majority of the album. There are a few songs in the midst of this massive tracklist (23 songs, chosen for the date of Asahd’s birthday – October 23) like “I Love You So Much” with
Chance the Rapper or “I’m So Grateful”. And in those lyrics full of praise heaped on the small boy, we get a genuine sense of adoration that is scarcely seen in hip-hop.

The rest of the tracks, however, are bog-standard pop songs, genetically modified hip-hop experiments that failed to come to fruition. It doesn’t have the ridiculous braggadocio of
Major Key, and more than a few of the features here sound almost disinterested. Reportedly Future asked for two million dollars in exchange for his participation, and that attitude shows through in the music.

We don’t often get to hear Khaled singing, usually being confined to the DJ hook at the beginning. “We the best music!”, and as such, there is a heavy reliance on the long list of features. If one doesn’t show up, that track becomes basically impossible to salvage in any meaningful way.

The production itself is where we get to see the handiwork of Khaled, and he brings an extraordinarily high level of polish to each track, sticking to his solid track record. But that doesn’t stop them from feeling uninspired. It’s bland, radio bait hip-hop, but at least it is well put together.

There are a lot of issues that I have with this album, even if I love this concept. Chance did something similar with
Coloring Book, a musical love letter, a time capsule from parent to child. Here the goal is the same, but the execution is so much worse. Bogged down by too many tracks full of underutilized features Grateful fades into the background quickly and then stays there.


1. (Intro) I'm So Grateful (Feat. Sizzla) 2. Shining (Feat. Beyoncé & JAY Z) 3. To the Max (Feat. Drake) 4. Wild Thoughts (Feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller) 5. I'm the One (Feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne) 6. On Everything (Feat. Travis Scott, Rick Ross & Big Sean) 7. It's Secured (Feat. Nas & Travis Scott) 8. Interlude (Hallelujah) – Betty Wright 9. Nobody (Feat. Alicia Keys & Nicki Minaj) 10. I Love You So Much (Feat. Chance The Rapper) 11. Don't Quit – with Calvin Harris (feat. Travis Scott & Jeremih) 12. I Can't Even Lie (feat. Future & Nicki Minaj) 13. Down for Life (Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR, Future, Travis Scott, Rick Ross & Kodak Black) 14. Major Bag Alert (Feat. Migos) 15. Good Man (feat. Pusha T & Jadakiss) 16. Billy Ocean (Feat. Fat Joe & Raekwon) 17. Pull a Caper (feat. Kodak Black, Gucci Mane & Rick Ross) 18. That Range Rover Came With Steps (Feat. Future & Yo Gotti) 19. Iced Out My Arms (feat. Future, Migos, 21 Savage & T.I) 20. Whatever (feat. Future, Young Thug, Rick Ross & 2 Chainz) 21. Interlude – Belly 22. Unchanging Love – Mavado 23. Asahd Talk (Thank You Asahd) – Asahd Tuck Khaled

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