In 2016, when Canadian rap legend and "October’s Very Own" Drake released his fourth studio album "Views," I felt like he was standing at a fork in his career’s road.
"Views" would go on to become one of the top five best-selling hip-hop albums of the decade, but to me, there wasn’t really a whole lot to love about it. None of its rap bangers hit as hard or stuck with me as long as anything from his 2015 mixtape "If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late," and its sweet moments couldn’t match those on "Nothing Was The Same."
Words like “boring,” “rehashed,” “bloated” and “commercial” come to mind.
Many of Drake's subsequent releases have suffered from these same issues, but I held out hope that he may one day rediscover the form and sounds that made me love him in the first place.
Would Drake continue to go commercial, or would he finally return to being original?
Then, on Sept. 3, Drake released his sixth album "Certified Lover Boy," and all my hopes died.
At over an hour and 20 minutes long, "Certified Lover Boy" sees Drizzy abandon all pretenses of making original, interesting music. Instead he opts to lazily recycle sounds, beats and themes from every one of his previous releases, while simultaneously managing to sound like he’s falling asleep on many of the album’s songs.
The album’s opener, “Champagne Poetry,” samples the beat from the 2017 song “Navajo” by Masego, who sounds infinitely more interesting — and awake — in his use of the beat. The very first bar on “Champagne Poetry” sees Drake make a strong assertion: “I been hot since the birth of my son,” and we need to talk about this.
If you remember, Drake did not publicly unveil his son Adonis Graham to the world after his birth. No, that revelation came at the hands of Virginia rapper and Kanye West associate Pusha T, who was beefing with Drake in May 2018 and exposed him for being an absentee father on the diss track, “The Story of Adidon.”
Drake, of course, would rather you forget that ever happened, and so he continues to parade his son around the world as if he’s the greatest father of all time — while also never really responding to those accusations.
So yeah, he has not been hot since the birth of his son. He’s not hot on this album either. Beyond broad claims within the lyrics, nearly every featured artist manages to outshine Drake at every turn.
For example, Lil Baby’s always-frenetic energy on “Girls Want Girls” contrasted with Drake literally dozing off on the track. Rick Ross and Lil Wayne obliterate him on the admittedly-fun “You Only Live Twice”, and 21 Savage sounds leagues colder and more threatening than the Lover Boy on “Knife Talk.”
Drake also doesn’t shy away from his tried and true theme of toxic masculinity and relationships on this album. If you wanna hear Drake chastise a girl for complaining about their relationship when he buys her expensive things, look no further than “Pipe Down.”
Also, it has to be said: “TSU” literally has an R. Kelly credit. In 2021. Really?
And as if there hasn’t already been enough recycling for you, “Girls Want Girls” is the obligatory rerun of his 2018 hit, “Nice For What,” with a thin LGBTQ+ veil and Drake calling himself a lesbian in the chorus.
Yes, those same buzzwords — boring, rehashed, bloated and commercial — are the cardinal sins of "Certified Lover Boy." Drake’s beats sound the same, his flows are as boring and insecurely braggadocious as ever, his features outshine him and he just can’t seem to stop talking about how great he is, even when he’s talking about his mistakes.
If only Drake hadn’t gone down that road. Someone, please put on “Know Yourself.”
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