DJ Khaled Victory

DJ Khaled Victory
There are a number of things to dislike about DJ Khaled. He's officially displaced Funk Flex as the king of the irritating mid-song shout out. In a genre where braggadocio is a given, he takes swagger to an almost ridiculously cartoonish place. In short, dude is grating as hell. That said, there is one thing he does well: no one can assemble a hip-hop all-star team and get them to perform quite like him. On Victory, Khaled puts together a who's who from rap, dancehall and R&B, and, with a couple exceptions, gets almost all of them deliver first-class performances. The singles "All I Do is Win" and "Fed Up" are big, stupid, rap-along-in-the-club fun. The title track, with John Legend and Nas, features classic Nas lyricism, great soul vocals from Legend and a surprisingly low-key piano-and-snare beat. "Bringing Real Rap Back," starring comparatively unknown Khaled protégé Rum, takes the prize for the best song on the album. Rum isn't a classic lyricist, but the young Southern rapper has strong concepts, a slow, engaging flow and excellent punch lines. Sure, there is some crap on Victory: Rick Ross makes three appearances, which are three too many; Soulja Boy Tell 'Em stops by to ruin the otherwise solid "Rockin All My Chains On"; and somebody thought it would be funny to put Nelly on a track. But the good significantly outweighs the bad on this one. (E1)