Written By: Sam Wilson
Grateful is one of the longest and most anticipated albums of the year, yet it feels slightly lackluster in places. After the intro, ‘ I’m so Grateful,’ which draws from some naturalistic Asian influences in the production, the rest of the album abandons this style and delves off into hip-hop mediocrity. The amount of big names that DJ Khaled has collaborated with on this album is phenomenal: Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Calvin Harris and Nicki Minaj, to name just a few. The sheer volume and presence this album has is enough alone to warrant it as pretty good but I can’t help but feel it misses the mark more than once.
I’m going to get the negatives out of the way first, so that I can focus on what this album does well. Firstly, it gets a bit repetitive, as you can expect from a whopping 22 track album that lasts around 85 minutes. A few of the songs lack real substance and just feel like typical-Khaled filler songs: namely ‘On Everything’, ‘Down for Life’ and ‘Whatever’. These are the greatest examples of where this album falls, it abandons the new styles and sounds that the better songs on the album succeed on and sticks with the formulaic sounds of rap and trap that rarely feel different from artist to artist these days.
Secondly, there’s a severe lack of really good songs, which is a shame considering all the artists that got involved in this collaboration. With the exception of a few tracks, which I’ll talk a bit more about, nothing really jumped out to me at the extent where I will listen to them again, or add them to any of my playlists. This is a shame because I had really high hopes for this album, and to see it disappoint me was really quite sad.
Anyway, on with the positives. There were some pretty great songs on the album that brought much needed variety to the same-ish album. Firstly, the intro, which I have already mentioned is a great start to the album, bringing in Asian influences into the music. Next was ‘ Wild Thoughts,’ which samples ‘Maria, Maria,’ the very popular Carlos Santana song, and features Rihanna and Bryson Tiller. This is by far one of the best collaborations on the project, bringing Latin vibes into an album that consists heavily on North American hip-hop.
The two songs featuring Chance the Rapper are also pretty good, due to their unique style, which you can tell has been heavily influenced by Chance himself. The radio hit ‘I’m the One’ and ‘I love you so much,’ feel much happier and summery than many of the other tracks on the album, and are a refreshing break from the sameness of a lot of the other songs. Additionally,‘Nobody,’ ‘Don’t Quit’ and ‘I Can’t Even Lie,‘ are all impressive songs that help drag the album away from mediocrity.
To conclude, definitely not the most impressive hip-hop album to be released this year but in terms of pure star-power, it will be hard to beat. The sameness of the filler hip-hop songs is saved by the variety that a lot of the other artists bring to Khaled’s work. Drawing influences from all over the world, we should be grateful for Grateful, as it is a pretty decent album regardless.