There’s no sense in denying DJ Khaled’s status as a Rap mogul now. He’s got his own label, he’s the President of another, and his reach within the industry is one that only Diddy can match. All he’s missing is his own brand of liquor. Where he’s stood (and stands) as an Executive Producer seems to be the more appropriate question at this point. Primarily based on name recognition, his previous installments of compilation albums have yielded a handful of gold singles, but the rest of projects’ contents fall largely to the wayside. Rest assured Khaled doesn’t disappoint on Kiss The Ring.
As with last years’ We The Best Forever, the beats here are more polished, the guests are a bit more selective and as always the hood is well-represented on “Shout Out To The Streets” and “I Did It For My Dawgz.” However, the albums’ minimal capacity for ingenuity makes for a rough listen, with tracks like “Don’t Pay 4 It” and “Bitches And Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)” testing the listener’s patience. In fact, everything about the latter record screams shameful. Whether it’s Future’s atrocious hook, T.I.’s desperate attempt at sounding current or Lil Wayne avoiding any semblance of rationality within his verse, you realize Khaled is more of a yes man in the studio than actually critiquing his colleagues to aid the quality of his album.
Few and far between are conceptual cuts like “Hip Hop,” a captivating performance that utilizes shades of “I Used To Love H.E.R.” within it. Fittingly, veterans Scarface and Nas deliver rhymes that symbolize their emotion for the Rap game’s past and present form (“And if I cry two tears for her / That would be the most that I can give to her”). This is countered by “They Ready,” a soulful track that finds three of Hip Hop’s youthfully-lauded emcees rightfully celebrating their respective accomplishments. Match these against the album-ending “Outro (They Don’t Want War)” in which DJ Khaled raps, and it’s clear that the disparity of lyricism and execution is either an issue that Khaled is unaware of, or an issue that he refuses to adjust.
Lacking any cohesion, Kiss The Ring is a series of single tracks that hit or miss, and one can only imagine what DJ Khaled’s batting average is at now. Having said that, any credit for the album’s highlights should be given to the artists themselves, unless of course Khaled has been ghostwriting for Kendrick Lamar or Nas lately. Kiss the ring? We’ll pass for the sixth time.