Production Notes: DJ Khaled’s “Major Key”

“Major Key” is DJ Khaled’s ninth studio album, and the first DJ Khaled album that I haven’t rolled my eyes and turned off within the initial period of listening.


There’s a lot of interesting things happening in this album…. No, really. This album’s production is on point: The loudness of the percussion rivals Dr.Dre’s “2001, The Chronic”, the autotune isn’t abused, and the album actually has theme, rather than just a slew of club bangers. Which is 500% more than I would ever expect from the living meme himself.


The third track on the album, “Nas Album Done” features Nas (duh), with Khaled, and Cool & Dre on production. If you’re a fan of Lauryn Hill (you should be), then you’ll love this track. The pitched-up sample of “Fu-gee-la” isn’t abused at all—surprisingly. Hill’s voice mixed with the 808 bass and stuttering hi-hats works so well that I’m inclined to feel that I traveled to another dimension where The Fugees were a Chicago drill group.

The DJ Khaled ad-lib alert starts in the intro of the track (“Classic shit”, “timeless”, “iconic”), but once

you realize that Khaled is talking about the much-respected Nas, and not himself for once, you realize these adlibs aren’t the most corny thing in the world. In fact, they actually compliment the instrumental, along with Nas’ lyrical murder.


Another highlight is “Holy Key”, featuring Big Sean, Kendrick, and Betty Wright. The instrumental begins with the main horn sample under enough DAW effects to make it sound like an excerpt from a post-rock album. This quickly transitions into the main base of the beat.

The cymbal crashes from the original sample are adopted to keep the high intensity of the track moving. The beat repeats every 2 bars, you would think that it becomes monotonous rather quickly. It doesn’t. The horn/synth line is catchy enough to warrant repeated listens, and the track remains extremely dense with a busy sample, sliding 808’s, and panned choir voices. The hook of this track is the type you don’t want to sing along with, because your voice will never match the powerful pipes of 70’s soul star Betty Wright. This was done well enough to make me think that this wasn’t just recorded in a booth. Surprisingly, DJ Khaled’s voice is also in here, and actually works as an aid to this unforgettable track.


Other key tracks include: Jermaine’s Interlude, Work for It, Don’t Ever Play Yourself.


DJ Khaled has heavy involvement on almost every track on this album, compared to his last album that he was only involved on a handful of tracks. This album surely surpasses his previous efforts, but does this mean that Khaled actually has some studio chops? Eh, maybe. I can at the very least say that the next Khaled album will have me listening, even if it is only for the memes.