DJ Khaled has the key to success. On Wednesday night (July 20), “Snapchat King” and the good folks over at Epic Records invited VIBE out to New York City’s Premiere Recording Studios for an early listen of the producer’s upcoming album, Major Key.
As bottles of Luc Belaire and Ciroc nested in perspirating buckets of ice, and tastemakers filled the tight studio space, Khaled–dressed in all black– strolled through with a tireless energy shortly after 6 p.m. and wasted no time getting to business. But before diving into Major Key, Khaled shared his thoughts on his ninth studio album to-date.
“I think this is my best album. I say that every album, because I mean it. And the goal is to keep going, and taking it to the next level,” Khaled said. “But this album is really a major key. So if you know all of my titles on my albums, it’s usually what’s going on in my life at that time. The inspiration that came off this album was my fans, fan love. I just feel like my fans are a little more connected than we’ve ever been.”
Khaled begins the private session with Jay Z and Future’s “I Got The Keys” followed by his Drake-assisted “For Free.” But it was track No. 3 that caught everyone in the room off guard: Nas’ “My Album Is Done.”
“You see what I did there,” Khaled says. “I Got Jay and Future, I got Drake. Then I followed up with Nas.”
Here, “Nasty Nas'” ferocious flow fills the room. The self-proclaimed God’s Son reminds us that he is the king of rhyming, while touching on the ills and injustices of America.
Other standout tracks from his 14-track project include: “Don’t Ever Play Yourself” (feat. Jadakiss, Fabolous, and newcomer Kent Jones), J. Cole’s “Jermaine’s Interlude,” the Bryson Tiller and Future-assisted “I’m Going To Be Alright” and the Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar and Betty Wright collaboration, “Holy Key,” which will premiere on Beats One Radio on Friday (July 22).
“I told Kendrick that I needed him to catch the Holy Ghost. No rules, no nothing. I told Big Sean the same thing. After I got the verses I got Ms. Wright., and I gave her some vibes, the tools for this hook. Basically, I told her to go to church.”
Another notable track is “Do You Mind,” where Khaled tag-teams with the all-star cast of Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Jeremih, Future, August Alsina, and Rick Ross.
“I went Quincy Jones on this. I co-produced this. I made everybody sing certain parts, people do certain verses and certain harmonies. This is what you call producing. This is “Secret Garden,” “We Are The World,” Quincy Jones, but it’s Khaled. I had this idea years ago, but I felt like it was too early to do it a few years ago: I flipped “Lovers and Friends.” I think “Lovers and Friends” is thirteen years old now? I had this idea earlier, but I don’t sample a record if it’s not ten years old.”
Overall, Major Key is a split between unfiltered lyricism (with the likes of Nas, Jay Z, J. Cole and even Big Sean, Jadakiss, Fabolous and newcomer Kent Jones) and club and radio-friendly anthems. Khaled’s 9th studio album is slated for a July 29th release. Head over to iTunes to pre-order Major Key.