Before I begin the review, I have to admit that I have always been guilty of being a ‘Drake hater’ even though I do occasionally listen to his music and can’t deny his talent as a rapper and singer. Whether it’s his melodramatic songs, his sudden Toronto Raptors fandom, not writing his lyrics or just his utter dominance over the radio waves, something about him rubs me the wrong way.
When I first listened to his fourth studio album, Views, in the car driving back from Boston, I was pleasantly surprised. The synth beats and catchy hooks helped ease the pain of traffic. Unfortunately the more I listen to the album, the less compelling it becomes. While Drake is able to continue his dominance over mainstream hip-hop on Views, he fails to take any major steps forward as an artist.
For starters, his subject matter just has not seemed to grow or mature since he was first coming on to the scene with So Far Gone and Take Care. Money, success and his obsession with ex girlfriends, who he refers to as his “let’s just be friends” on the painful 5 and half minute long intro, Keep the Family Close, still seem to be his only talking points. On Weston Road Flows and Childs Play he makes many very specific references to girls he’s dated in the past that just don’t seem to have much relevance to the listener.
Even though there isn’t much lyrical growth, there is no denying Drakes song making ability. Views has a lot of great tracks on it, from songs like Still Here, Hype and Feel No Ways to hits like One Dance and Controlla.
For the latter two songs as well as the Rihanna featured Too Good, Drake has been accused by some of appropriating Caribbean culture due to their dancehall elements. Dancehall star Mr.Vegas even called Drake out in a video for not crediting Jamaican artists on these songs. While, I certainly hear the complaints, I have a hard time faulting him for this because these are three of the best songs on the album, and rap artists have been sampling other genres for a very long time.
The controversy surrounding Views hasn’t ended there. Fellow rapper Joe Budden said that the “music sounds good and I enjoy it. I played that album all the way to D.C. and all the way back multiple times. 40 you sound amazing. 40 continues to progress. Drake you do not. I said the other day on this podcast I miss the Drake that starts the waves, not hops on other waves.”
40 refers to Drakes top producer Noah “40” Shebib, who has credits on most of the albums songs. I have to agree that production wise this album is top notch, and Drake clearly knows how to make hits, but I’m just not sure Views is on par with the latest albums of his peers. Still, with this album, Drake will continue on his course as by far the most successful rapper of this and any generation thus far. It is certainly an improvement over his two mixtapes from last year and is one of the best albums of the year so far.
Key Songs: Controlla, One Dance, Feel No Ways, Too Good