From a Rare Dr. Dre Beat to an Unexpected Eddie Murphy Sample, These are the Highlights of DJ Khaled’s God Did
It’s the waning days of summer, as blockbuster season gives way to low-expectations season. But DJ Khaled is sliding under the closing door like Indiana Jones to give us God Did, his thirteenth (13th!) solo album. The producer-executive-social media personality-professional yeller’s latest LP fits his trend of high-sheen, big budget releases, featuring a guest list full of bankable stars (Jay-Z, Drake, Eminem, Future), and exciting new talents (Skillibeng, Latto, Nardo Wick).
As presaged by its advance single, “Staying Alive”—the lukewarm Drake and Lil Baby collaboration that interpolates the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever hit—God Did is an album that continually swings for the fences, aiming for viral moments, radio hits, and street credibility all at once.
Here are the big moments that have people buzzing, including a sprawling Jay-Z verse, an inspired turn from 21 Savage, and a truly outside the box ‘80s sample.
Jay-Z wants us to know he’s rich and has made others rich, too.
Jay-Z is 52, worth over a billion dollars, and has an extremely prosperous life. He doesn’t need to keep rapping, so when he does step into the booth, it always grabs the attention of the hip-hop community at large.
His verse on the album’s title track is the equivalent of an NBA offense clearing out for a superstar, as he raps 80 bars to close out “God Did.” Certain phrases already have the internet buzzing, including one where he raps about his 10-figure family tree: “How many billionaires can come from Hov crib? / I count three, me, Ye and Rih / Bron’s a Roc boy, so four, technically.” The verse also cleverly juxtaposes Jay’s Brooklyn hustler origins with the way drug culture has changed. ”Now the weed in stores, can you believe this, Ty?” he jokes.
There are a few clunker lines, chiefly one where he compares the sale of Rihanna’s Fenty clothing line to fentanyl, but it’s an expansive verse that allows Jay to brag about his corporate prowess as only he can. Or, as he puts it, “We just corner boys with the corner office.”
A three-year old Juice WRLD collaboration finally sees the light of day.
Juice WRLD’s “Another One” was first previewed more than three years ago, without a direct contribution from Khaled, but with several references to him and his signature catchphrases. Though it subsequently leaked, the song has finally gotten an official release as “Juice WRLD Did.”
Produced by Juice’s regular collaborators Nick Mira and DT, it instantly stands out on the God Did tracklist. It’s a catchy song, proof of the rapper’s hook-writing prowess and penchant for peppering his verses with recognizable pop culture references.
“Juice WRLD Did” doesn’t mesh effortlessly with the other songs on Khaled’s album, but he has said that Lil Bibby randomly sent it to him and he felt compelled to include it. Either way, it’s enjoyable to hear the voice of a truly talented artist gone too soon.
Latto continues to effortlessly put her own stamp on classics.
One of 2021’s breakout stars, Atlanta MC Latto has been on an incendiary run thanks to her 777 album, and muscular features on songs by Megan Thee Stallion and Calvin Harris. She owns the spotlight on God Did’s “Bills Paid,” a collaboration with City Girls.
It’s an exceedingly confident performance, as Latto establishes her M.O. when dealing with interested men. “He asked me what’s my horoscope, I said, ‘A dollar sign,’” she raps. Latto has shown an ability to make a high-profile sample her own–just look at her top-five hit “Big Energy,” which flips Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”–and she does so again with “Bills Paid.”
The track, co-produced by Khaled himself, draws from the 2001 single “Lights, Camera, Action!” by Mr. Cheeks, an underrated club hit that felt like the spiritual successor to the Bad Boy-style of high sheen hits of the late ‘90s, particularly with its own classic sample flip of Eddie Kendrick’s “Keep on Truckin”. Beefing up “Bills Paid”’s string melody and flecks of funky guitar, the song is a blast, and cements Latto as one of the best rappers around when it comes to updating yesterday’s classics.
We finally get a glimpse into the Dr. Dre-Kanye West vault.
Back in 2019, Kanye surprised rap fans by announcing he and Dr. Dre were working together on his forthcoming Jesus is King, Part II. The two legendary producer-rappers had somehow never joined forces before, and even though Kanye’s output was beginning to get erratic, the prospect was undeniably intriguing.
We never heard much from those sessions, but Khaled has uncorked something that seems from that era with “Use This Gospel (Remix).” The track is a grab-bag of rap royalty, featuring Kanye and Eminem on vocals, while Dre and Timbaland produce.The production is vintage Dre, with sparse, ticking drums and menacing low piano chords. It doesn’t quite live up to the original, which is quietly one of the great late-career Kanye tracks and notable for its much-hyped Clipse reunion. But it’s fun to hear Eminem somersault around a Dre beat like old times.
21 Savage is empowered to get deep on the soulful “Way Past Luck.”
Nobody raps on menacing, Wes Craven-indebted horror beats like 21 Savage. With his deadpan flow, caustic humor, and his knack for concocting inventive threats, the Freddy Krueger razor glove fits him like, well, a glove. But throughout his career, he’s also shown an ability to channel a different side of himself on velvety soul samples. “A Lot” and “Letter 2 My Momma” from 2018’s I Am > I Was are among the best songs he’s ever released, and he gets back into that wheelhouse on God Did’s “Way Past Luck.”
Over a beat provided by Khaled, StreetRunner, and Tarik Azzouz, Savage finds himself in a reflective mood. “Way Past Luck” contains a single verse, delivered stream-of-consciousness style, in which Savage raps about the incongruity of being a famous Black man (“Police hate me, white fans show me love”), how his brand of chilling Atlanta rap has crossed over (“Heart inside the trenches, I can’t go pop / We make street records and they go pop”), and the impact of fatherhood (“Lookin’ at my children, all I see is me / You know it’s different when you responsible for how somebody breathe”).
The song doesn’t quite reach the philosophical heights of “A Lot,” but it would make for a quality inclusion on any 21 Savage project. Khaled’s critics like to joke that his albums are filled with tracks not good enough to make the featured artist’s own releases, but “Way Past Luck” is a clear exception.
Quavo and Takeoff do justice to a rare Eddie Murphy sample clearance.
For their many talents, the men of Migos are not exactly known for their sense of humor (Carpool Karaoke session excluded). “Party” isn’t a conventionally good song, but it’s a blast to hear Quavo and Takeoff rapping with their usual bombast over a beat that samples Eddie Murphy’s 1985 hit single “Party All the Time.”
The song’s trap beat puts thunderous 808s under Murphy’s crooning about an insatiable socialite girlfriend, as the two Atlanta rappers trade bars in their signature triplet cadence. Quavo and Takeoff, who recently formed a new duo called Unc & Phew amid long-standing rumors of bad blood with Offset, are clearly having a good time here, even if their references—Dave Chappelle’s Rick James sketch, a Three 6 Mafia hit from 2006, the skateboarding exploits of Tony Hawk—feel almost as dated as the sample itself.
Quavo and Takeoff are working on an album, and if they lean into campy fun the way they do on this club cut, they could find some fresh life and reason to keep the party going.
Khaled’s love of dancehall music is once again represented.
Through the highs and lows of DJ Khaled’s 13 albums, he has consistently used them as a platform to showcase reggae and dancehall talent to a mainstream audience. He’s worked with high-profile Jamaican acts like Buju Banton and Sizzla before, and brings that pair back—along with a small army of others—for “These Streets Know My Name.”
The track is cleverly A&R-ed, uniting a bunch of dancehall icons like Banton, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, and Capleton with the fast-rising, 25-year-old Skillibeng. The young vocalist jackknifes around the beat at top speed, but it’s Banton who carries the song with raspy, booming authority.
Khaled is facile at jumping on (and inserting himself into) musical trends, but his commitment to promoting dancehall music seems earnest and endearing. “These Streets Know My Name” is one of the better tracks on God Did.
You wake up in the middle of the night and the “pee or not to pee” question comes up.…