Chain Link: DJ Khaled?s chief talent is connecting hip-hop stars.

We value your support now more than ever.

All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

Imagine a relatively unknown band releasing an album that included contributions from Radiohead, U2, Good Charlotte, Rage Against the Machine, the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, O.A.R., and the Cure. That’s what DJ Khaled albums are like; the Miami radio personality isn’t well-known outside the hip-hop world, but his CDs brim with rap megastars. His latest, We Global, boasts appearances by (to mention only the household names) Kanye West, T-Pain, the Game, Nas, Rick Ross, Akon, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, and Trick Daddy. Khaled’s previous two albums, 2006’s Listennn…the Album and last year’s We the Best are similarly stuffed. How does he attract so many big names? He doesn’t rap, after all, or sing, and he barely performs any production duties. All he does on these albums is shout out his own name and various catchphrases over the tracks, which, as you can imagine, is fairly annoying. And yet, as the evening DJ at popular Miami urban radio station 99 Jamz, he wields enormous influence in what’s arguably the most important hip-hop city in America. (Like, say, New York’s Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex, he can make or break albums by giving airplay or withholding it.) Still, as anyone who listened to the Game’s recent LAX knows, lots of big guest stars don’t make for a great album. Khaled’s particular genius is his ability to create synergies among the assembled egos, making for tracks that sound organically built and inspired instead of mere promotional ops. We the Best contains a half-dozen pop-rap tracks so full of earworms that even people who don’t enjoy them had a hard time getting them out of their heads. We Global has more than its share of memorable anthems too, including “Go Hard,” “Fuck the Other Side” and “She’s Fine” (that last track featuring a rejuvenated Sean Paul). The album’s masterpiece, “Out Here Grindin’” is an immediate and adrenalizing summit meeting of Akon, Rick Ross, and Young Jeezy, that works even though it sounds like Lil Boosie is spelling out “Wet the bed” instead of “We the best.” The disc does sag: With lyrics so far from insightful, there’s nothing to save things when the hooks are lackluster, so “I’m On” and “Red Light” feature little more than blustering. But the tracks that work far outnumber those that don’t: Even though Khaled does little that’s tangible on We Global, his ability to stoke great collaborations make it a powerhouse.