In a way, DJ Khaled is rap’s version of a general manager, and a loud one at that. While he’s compiled four albums rife with enough radio material to last a few days, the only thing to take away from them is that they’re mostly the same:  huge posse cuts with the homogenous mix of Southern bravado and outlandish choruses soon to be chanted at your high school pep rally with added emphasis on anything dealing with the hood. The strength of Khaled is his means of recruiting, hip-hop’s ultimate version of a guy who wants to go all in with every release. The talent he assembles should go out and bring him a national championship (or in the hip-hop sense a #1 album) every single time out.

To Khaled’s defense, the tactic has paid dividends for him as he’s been able to maneuver from Terror Squad to Def Jam to now Young Money  without losing an inch of credibility. How did it take five albums to realize what exactly Khaled is the best at is beyond me but on his latest foray into hunting for plaques, We The Best Forever starts off huge and manages to stay serviceable well past the playoffs.

Opening the album with the already infectious and damn near unavoidable “I’m On One” sees all of the aspects that make a “Khaled” track work. There’s Lil Wayne’s with a croaky moment of illusion and Dallas pomp, Rick Ross riding the steering wheel of MMG until he no longer can’t and the ace in the hole, Drake’s opening verse and chorus that somehow became slightly controversial for a perceived slight at a certain Carter that isn’t featured on the track.

When the combination involves any variation of Ross, Wayne and an anthem worthy chorus, Khaled usually wins. “Welcome To My Hood” stretches the concept over pulsating snares and 808s for enough kick and even supplies Plies with the album’s most grin induced moment of ignorance where he’ll proudly tell the government he’s stealing cable.  Khaled knows putting talents with an established rapport automatically secures a win. Lex Luger, Young Jeezy, & Ludacris for “Money”? Average at best currency talk. Lex & Waka Flocka? Enough to start a riot and then some. By Rick Ross commissioning the “Lex Luger” sound to filter through Self Made Vol. 1, getting the real thing feels quiet diluted, no longer containing the same passion that made earlier iterations such as “Hard In The Paint” a fun monolithic terror.

The remaining moments of the album attempt to find a balance between the pop charts and the street. While “I’m On One” got there with the perfect chemistry, “Legendary “ with the R&B inclusions of Keyshia Cole, Ne-Yo & Chris Brown isn’t the Grammy award winner that Khaled thought it would be. Each verse sounds layered on top of another and there’s no real separation between when Cole stops and Brown begins. For the sake of his newfound affiliation with Birdman’s creation, “A Million Lights” exists with 80s cheesy pop synths and the Young Money B-Squad of Tyga, Cory Gunz, Mack Maine & Jae Millz packing in verses around a Kevin Rudolf chorus.

We The Best Forever is a usual assemble of talent asked to go out and win, point blank. It suffers from being much like the Miami Heat, leading with two stars (the album’s opening two cuts), a slightly overrated third and a so-so bench. Mary J. Blige’s flip of PSK’s “What Does It Mean?” may be the Bosh of the group, destined for a hit due to a 90s throwback vibe. With a mindset that states “all songs have to be singles”, Khaled got exactly what he wanted without dragging the remaining product down. This year, at least.

FINAL SCORE: 7.0