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An Open Letter to DJ Khaled: You Sound Embarrassingly Ungrateful

Look, someone has to come in second.

Dear DJ Khaled,

I want to begin by expressing my condolences for your recent second-place finish and offering a reminder that nobody cares where your latest album, Father Of Asahd, debuted—except for you. I get it, though; you're used to winning.

I can only imagine how much you wanted to net the top spot for your eleventh studio album: you changed your usual rollout strategy, you spent almost two years crafting the project, and you utilized questionable bundling tactics we won’t talk about here. 

With all of that effort, finishing in second place understandably defeat. I promise you, though, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 doesn’t matter as much as you think it does—at least not to us, the consumer.

To summarize: you, DJ Khaled, released Father Of Asahd on the same day Tyler, The Creator unleashed IGOR. You finished second. You threatened to sue Billboard.

Look, someone has to come in second. But don’t worry, we all saw you put up numbers; 136,000 equivalent album sales might have done the trick almost any other week.

You should be proud of a second-place finish against an album that made history: Tyler became the first solo rap artist to produce and arrange a number one without outside assistance. We, the people, commend you on your courage.

Like 50 Cent vs. Kanye West, Nicki Minaj vs. Travis Scott, and many others before you, you fell short of your goal but still fought the good fight. Moments like these are great for music and add fuel to the sometimes dull album release cycle. You said it yourself during your CRWN interview with Elliott Wilson:

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“While I was recording my album I only remember like a handful of records and a handful of albums. The reason why I’m saying this is because I only want everybody to take it to the next level—including me.” —DJ Khaled 

Yes, the hype created from two high-profile artists dropping heavily anticipated albums on the same day was entertaining, and yes, we, the consumers, did peek at the charts to see who finished first. But this behavior is nothing more than an exhibit of our obsessive need for drama in every aspect of our lives. We would not have looked at your numbers if you charted anywhere else. 

Second place albums aren’t suddenly removed from DSPs or store shelves—assuming your label, Epic, actually pressed up hard copies. As you likely recall, your debut, Listennn... the Album, entered the Billboard 200 at No. 12. You’ve come a long way.

The only blemish to come from your release is how you reacted once the album debuted at No. 2. “It’s called albums that you actually hear the song. Not no mysterious shit and you never hear it,” you said in a since-deleted video. Sure, you edged out Tyler, The Creator in total streams by roughly 300,000, but there’s nothing mysterious album Igor or its creator. You sound embarrassingly ungrateful.

When you released your tenth album, Grateful, in 2017, you beat out Imagine Dragons to debut at No. 1. The year before, you dethroned Drake’s Views—which had been napping at the top of the charts for nearly four months—with your ninth album, Major Key

“I wanted it to be the most challenging for me,” you told Wilson during your CRWN interview. “I ain’t want to make nothing mediocre or good, I wanted to make it great.” 

Yes, exactly. You put out a project you thought was great, presenting a chart challenge. A second place finish does not refute that.

Khaled, if the end result of an album release is the entrance of quality tunes out into the world, we don’t care where it debuts on the Billboard 200. This goes for all artists. Would you prefer to debut at No. 1 with 36,000 equivalent album sales or finish second with a commendable 136,000? Your fans will still be listening regardless of where you finish. And who knows, if you handle defeat like a classy veteran, maybe you’ll gain new fans in the process.

Don’t be afraid to finish second. Number one only matters when number two is close behind.

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