Grateful is distinguishable from the nine previous DJ Khaled albums by its cover alone -- a regal portrait of platinum fraternal shepherd, self-hype man, and producer Khaled beside son Asahd and a young tiger. Bestowed with an executive production credit, Asahd is present in more than a visual sense. On the "Sesame Street visits a black church" number "I Love You So Much," Khaled and Chance the Rapper exalt their kids, with the former in endearingly effusive overdrive, beaming "You're an icon, you're a legend" and, motivated perhaps by witnessing Asahd devour some strained carrots, "the greatest that ever did it." That and the album's concluding moment of touching thanks are among the most family-friendly tracks in the Khaled discography, which swells here with 21 additional selections of mostly celebratory bluster. By late-2010s' Khaled standard, Grateful is typically overstuffed. Due to the plinking "I'm the One," led by Justin Bieber, and "Wild Thoughts," a Rihanna-fronted update of Santana's "Maria Maria" (itself partially a flagrant Timbaland rehash), the album had major hits before it arrived. More emblematic are the two other pre-album singles that didn't fare as well: "Shining," featuring Beyoncé and her husband ("21 Grammys -- I'm a savage"), is energized but only adequate, while "To the Max" is a scampering platform for Drake in half-hearted woeful braggart mode. Khaled old guards such as Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Mavado, and Nas make requisite notable appearances, while newer collaborators 21 Savage and Migos add some youthful energy with contributions to the album's comparatively street-oriented, paper-chasing, ominous-sounding second half. The beats are fully outfitted, and several are suitably immense, but they blur into one another as they serve as a spirited if mostly unremarkable summertime backdrop. Compared to Major Key, there's a little less objectification going on. Just as significant, the second track on which Chance is featured isn't the lone gospel connection. Almost lost in this lengthy flow of content is an a cappella Betty Wright interlude and what trails it: an uplifted Cool & Dre co-production fronted by Alicia Keys with a clean and righteous verse from Nicki Minaj, "Go to war for every black queen that they lynched, and my pockets on chubby but they can't be pinched."
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
feat: Calvin Harris
Track Listing - Disc 2
feat: Asahd Khaled