As we all know, DJ Khaled knows how to both promote and execute surefire hits. Having recently created an arguable song of the summer contender by enlisting Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne and Quavo for the infectiously poppy “I’m the One,” Khaled took a decidedly different - and unexpected - approach on new track “To the Max.”
“To the Max” draws from two genres that are criminally underrated on the world stage, in terms of exposure. The track’s sample is taken from a UK Bassline classic - T2’s “Heartbroken” - which was then remixed by Jersey Club pioneer DJ Jayhood into one of his legendary re-workings. It’s an unconventional approach from Khaled, whose usual go-to recipe for chart success of late has been sickly-sweet pop-hop beats.
The track has now ignited some heated debate from fans on social media, which has even been picked up on by hip-hop head and ‘Everyday Struggle’ host DJ Akademiks. Meanwhile, DJ Jayhood's response to the rip was positive - the Jersey club producer said he doesn't blame the artists and has no "bad blood."
"It was definitely sampled from the version I did," said Jayhood in an interview with The FADER. "The chops are not the same from the original, it's from the one I did. My drop is even in there." Local Action label-head (the label who released DJ Jayhood's debut album) Tom Lea pointed out over email that Khaled didn’t even bother editing Jayhood’s original producer tag on the track. You can compare the similarities for yourself below.
What Khaled has done with “To the Max” is forge a Jersey / Miami juke hybrid, via an underground (and distinctly British) music scene. Whilst the track was probably more likely inspired by Khaled's love of Jersey Club, it's not out of the question to imagine Drake playing Khaled T2's “Heartbroken” in a studio session - he’s certainly had previous experience with this sort of thing. He sampled UK Funky legend Kyla's “Do You Mind” for his most successful song of all time - “One Dance,” which now sits on just the 1,235,714,625 streams on Spotify. Kyla got richly (and duly) rewarded for her cult classic as a result.
So did Khaled hit up T2 and Jayhood about using the sample? Tom Lea weighed in on this over email, “Apparently, Team Khaled reached out to T2 - but never actually agreed a rate before release. That story's as old as time, though, and doesn't only happen with major labels.”
Inevitably, much like how Drake’s More Life brought a lot of attention to UK rappers Giggs and Skepta and soulful crooners Sampha and Jorja Smith, this track will bring due attention to both the brilliant Jersey Club and UK Bassline scenes, championed by DJ Jayhood and T2 respectively. And if the success from previous examples of this is anything to go by, “To the Max” will ultimately be yet another DJ Khaled and Drake track dominating international airwaves again this summer. Everyone’s getting their checks from this - and it’s a refreshing approach incorporating two of the most overlooked scenes in world music. Miami is already lit.
We premiered DJ Jayhood’s exceptional debut album "King" last month. Listen to it below.
For more of our reviews, check out our view on Lil Yachty's debut album 'Teenage Emotions' right here.