By Luke Jackson
“Drake’s moments of brilliance are yet again buried by tons of filler”
Drake needs no introduction.
Aubrey Graham’s status as an unstoppable sales juggernaut has been challenged multiple times by both legends and new artists, yet, he still stands today as the most influential and well-known artist not just within hip-hop, but in the entire music world. The man had at least one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 8 straight years, and his records consistently obliterate almost every conceivable streaming record known to man. Drake’s influence and fame cannot be held in question.
However, despite his unparalleled success on the charts, the quality of his music has always been held under a constant faucet of scrutiny. Every single one of Drake’s albums or mixtapes have had their fair share of problems and issues- be it boring dancehall ripoffs or whiny and entitled lyrics about women. Drake has been nothing more than a hit-maker his entire career, and he certainly isn’t seen as an all-time great by many hip-hop enthusiasts.
The unavoidable hype and buildup that leads into every Drake album release is unearned, and he has consistently put the wants of the masses over the quality of his verses. Instead of making a refined and precise album that will stand the test of time, Drake tries to pack as many twitter-worthy lines and melodramatic relationship songs as he can into a needlessly long and drawn out album as possible. The tracklist of a Drake album is as formulaic as an episode of Phineas and Ferb, and the listener should always know what to expect out of a Drake album.
Yet, the hype surrounding his releases always has the same tone of hope that maybe Drake will trim the fatty R&B songs off of his next release so that fans get the absolute best that Drake has to offer in one album. Going into this album, I expected much more of the same, considering Drake has decided join artists like Migos and Rae Sremmurd and make an ultra long album that is seen by Spotify as both an album and a playlist.
This album starts off with an absolute eruption of songs that ooze confidence and fearlessness. The first three songs, Survival, Nonstop, and Elevate, hit all the points and moods that a Drake song should. They feature creative, clever, and quotable lyrics (“My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions”), they mix cut-throat bars with catchy melodies, and they all have dense, heavy 808 drums that consistently boom through every transition that Drake makes. These three songs cover the quintessential sounds that made Drake such a beloved figure in modern pop-culture, but they also have a sense of maturity and poise that you don’t get with a normal Drake song.
These themes continue on other tracks like Nice For What and Talk Up, the latter of which features a very nonchalant and elegant verse from music mogul Jay Z that perfectly captures the blue-collar billionaire vibe that Jay has been donning since the beginning of the 2010s.
The good songs on this album feature Drake at his absolute best, Drake sounds energized and self-assured on these tracks and his bars reflect his strong delivery beautifully.
However, the song March 14 completely departs from this trend and features Drake rapping in a vulnerable way, yet he doesn’t come across as the whiny, entitled person that he sometimes has been known to. On this song, Drake acknowledges the beef he had with Pusha T just weeks before he released this album, and Drake publically accepts the son that Pusha revealed on The Story of Adidon as his own. March 14 is yet another moment on this album where Drake seems more mature and wise than he has been in years past. Alas, songs like the ones I’ve listed above are anomalies on this album, and Drake resorts back to his usual moody R&B self on most of this album.
Going into this album, it was almost set in stone that filler tracks would be highly prominent on the tracklisting for this project, as this album stretches out 25 songs long. Listening through the tons of fluff that appears on this album just isn’t worth it for 6-10 decent songs. This album is a test of patience and an endurance, and it should never be listened to from beginning to end. Most of the songs on this album are basic, forgettable mush that wastes your time and consume the energy of anyone who consumes it in high dosage. There is nothing inherently bad about making a generic pop-rap song, but there is something wrong with piling these generic songs on top of each other without anything to break up the monotony of these songs.
Speaking of doing something wrong, Drake, for some completely unfathomable reason, thought it would be a good idea to include a feature from the late Michael Jackson on the song Don’t Matter To Me. Using an unfinished verse by a perfectionist like Jackson on a filler song seems somewhat disrespectful and cheap, and you get the feeling that Drake didn’t place the verse on the album to honor the late musician’s career, but instead to generate a little bit more buzz around his newest album.
The generic songs on this album feature all of the usual “in my feelings” vibes and melodic, sing-songy flows that you would come to expect from a Drake song. Chances are, you’ve pretty much heard most of this album before you even listen to it, meaning that most of this album offers up absolutely nothing unique or interesting that Drake hasn’t done before.