|Recording information: Alburna Studios, Miami, FL; Circle House, Miami, FL; Daddy's House Recording Studio, New York, NY; Darp Studios, Atlanta, GA; DSR, Hollywood, CA; Hit Factory, Miami, FL; PMCK Studios, Toronto, ON; Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA; Silent Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA; The Best Music, Miami, FL; We The Best Studios, Miami, FL; Zenith Studios, Atlanta, GA.
|The release of DJ Khaled's fourth studio album was repeatedly delayed. With each pushed-back street date came a new track list, the biggest change coming when the Shyne feature "All My Life" fell off, and Young Jeezy went from centerpiece artist to two-track contributor. It's a testament then to the DJ's executive production power that the final product not only holds together, but solidly supports the album's theme, offering a fist-pumping song cycle of triumph in the hood. With the five-star lineup of T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and Rick Ross, "All I Do Is Win" is the gold medal track, with the Young Jeezy showcase "Put Your Hands Up" winning the silver. Bun B ("I got those yams like Thanksgiving dinner") helps "Rockin' All My Chains On" score the bronze, giving the track a slight edge over the hood reggae number "Killing Me," which partners Busta Rhymes with Jamaican stars Buju Banton and Bounty Killer. Through intros and shout-outs, Khaled puts more of himself into this personal, story-telling album, and while this supposedly troubled effort seems complete and sound, for the most part, the closing "Rep My City" is the least satisfying number and is best thought of as a bonus track. Otherwise, the Terror Squad DJ's ode to the victor is as satisfying as his other mega-star-studded albums, with the added benefit of being more cohesive and significantly more purposeful. ~ David Jeffries