DJ Khaled is a social butterfly. The man, the legend behind such mega albums as ‘We The Best’, ‘We Global’, ‘Victory’ and ‘We The Best Forever’ (as if the first title didn’t imply perpetuity) is currently the head of Def Jam South (because apparently Southerners listen to a completely different style of rap to the rest of us) and, reportedly, could soon be taking over the reigns at the label nationally which would be bad for one big reason, good for quite another: a) we’d have to deal with his laboured shouting (consistently constipated when attempting to say his name ‘DEEEJAAAYY KHHAAALLLEEDD’) and b) we’d have more of these sorts of all-star lineups to make somewhat less interesting artists (Mill) all the more interesting by association. Beyond my gripe with his painful self-promotion (such that any track is tagged up to the nines and sounds like it might have been ripped off the radio), I can find value in Khaled’s ability to bring people together. He’s like the Thanksgiving of hip-hop. Oftentimes the problem with Khaled treatments is that the original didn’t really need that much assistance to begin with. With Mill’s ‘I’m A Boss’, there’s no doubting that the man behind a track needed a little help to make his single pop.
The emergence of cliques is certainly not a new thing in hip-hop. Dre’s Death Row Records family was unstoppable in the 90s, Birdman/Wayne’s Young Money Cash Money Billionaire’s has similar status in the 2k’s. But with the Internet’s vicious release cycle demanding constant work from today’s artists, having a tight crew of fellow-minded rappers who can help out with a guest spot in a tight spot is becoming integral to success. In today’s game it’s not so much who you are but who you know. As such, Mill’s appearance on Maybach Music’s first compilation album ‘Self Made Vol 1′ is ironic given that, while label founder Rick Ross and Wale, it’s hardest working employee, might well be self made, Mill is effectively riding on the coattails of his labelmates for the time being. Nevertheless, it’s hard to begrudge him his success – especially when it sounds this good. In a win for talent cross-fertilisation, we get T.I. (who was finally released from house arrest in Atlanta just over a month ago and has since brought us a wealth of new material including ), Birdman and Wayne (at his crude best), joker Ross (‘Had a couple of seizures/Call em minor setbacks’) and Swizz Beatz (NB: not a real rapper, just for good measure).
The end result is loud and frenetic as hell – as is almost always the case when Khaled gets involved, although in this instance isn’t much more subdued. Intriguingly, the high-octane level set at the outset is maintained throughout and the sort of self-contained vignettes that usually characterise such posse-heavy remixes are done away with so that each verse runs smoothly into the next. What any of it actually means is up for serious debate but it’s the armageddon synths, Rozay calls of ‘Whooo!’ and layered vocals throughout that contribute to a tone that is hard to argue with. Thematic premise goes out the window when you’re inviting this many egos to the table but impressively, none do anything to too badly damage the general vibe of the song. This is not good music. It is overproduced, overstocked and blatantly pretentious. But when you have the sorts of connections Khaled does and can bring together Maybach, Young Money, Grand Hustle and Swizz (who may or may not have been busy with other projects) to hold forth on their bossness, it’s almost too good an opportunity to let pass. Not everyone brings their A-game but on balance, ‘Ima Boss’ is solid enough to put the refrain beyond doubt. Plus, if you feel like dancing like a lunatic, no one does crunk-tastic quite like this lineup.
Meek Mills – I’m A Boss (Remix) Ft. T.I., Swizz Beatz, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Birdman & DJ Khaled