How Drake’s Album Represents The Acceptance Of Mediocrity
Written by: Ziggiy
“All you gotta do is dumb it down. You dumb it down ‘cause it’s all there is out there. Nobody is shooting that “C.R.E.A.M.” or that bomb atomically or that Nas shit. Or that Biggie shit. It’s just strictly easy raps now. The club, your car, the bitches you fucking. It’s like four different things.”
Aubrey “Drake” Graham has it all at his disposal. After a $20 million dollar deal with Apple, Drake’s new album Views, will have been viewed audibly by over 200 million streams from the tech behemoths music app. This, along with digital purchases will include sales upwards of 1.5 million copies, making Drake the first rapper since his mentor Lil Wayne to push 1 million copies of an album in the first week. It is no secret that Drake has taken his tried and true formula of R&B infused crooning with boastful and triumphant bars, to great fame and fortune. He has packaged himself neatly into an instantly recognizable and accessible brand of pop music that can be enjoyed by the masses. Drake is that cup of instant Ramen Noodles that sits in the back of your cabinet, gathering dust until the day you realize you are overdrawn on your bank account and payday isn’t until the end of the week. It is available, instantly ready, easily digestible, and yet unfulfilling and unsatisfying, forgotten about almost moments after consumption. The thing about a formula is that once it is mastered it can quickly become old, the lack of new thoughts, ideas, or inclining, manifest as a desire for a new hypothesis. Is Drake capable of either improving upon his formula or creating new and improved ideas to express himself as an artist? For the man who has everything, including a collective of producers, engineers, and yes, writers, at his beck and call; can the cumulative of pawns keep the King atop his throne? If Views is any indication, the answer is no.
Views opens with unarguably the most disappointing intro of any Drake album. Keep The Family Close is 5:28 of Drake waxing melancholiac about yet another break up with yet another buxom female who has apparently found the strength to bid him Take Care, whilst he has to come to the conclusion that after her departure Nothing Was The Same
You’re so predictable I hate people like you
Kennedy Road taught me not to trust people like you
How you supposed to figure out what I’m going through
You can’t even figure out what’s going on with you
You judge me ‘fore you met me yeah it figures
I make all the player’s anthems for the real niggas
With my dad out in Tennessee is where I belong
Out here in L.A. I don’t know what’s going on
I don’t know what’s going on
While such earnest and honesty might’ve been refreshing in 2009, and perfected in 2011, by 2016 it’s time to show some growth. Keep The Family Close is Drake’s lullaby to the concept of remaining pop music’s simp Peter Pan. The boy who refuses to become a man, Drake is simply refusing to move on from that which is one of his greatest vices. Kanye West said it best “Stay out the strip clubs that ain’t the place to find love”. One struggles to sympathize with the same tale of woo, especially if the tale has been told better previously.
U With Me continues Drake’s frustrating trend of appropriating classic tracks from legendary artists and turning them into soft middling tunes about relationships. Here it is DMX’s What These Bitches Want that has been stripped bare and transformed into an uninspired lava lamp tune where Drake questions the loyalty of yet another female.
You tell me that I’m confusin
More immature than Marques Houston
Cuts too deep for a band-aid solution
We too deep in this thing to never lose me
LOLOL I’m glad you find this shit amusin’
Heard a lot about me ‘fore we started off
I know you heard that my pool parties like Mardi Gras
That is the lyrical highlight of this song, a lazy reference to an R&B boy band from the 90’s and band-aids….
The monotony is briefly broken up in the album’s first half by Hype and Weston Road Flows. Both songs could count amongst the best album cuts on previous Drake albums. Hype would sound right at home on NWTS as Drake spits some surprisingly witty lines for his haters and certain jealous rappers and rivals
I hate a rapper especially
They feel the same, but they hide it
They just discuss it in private
Don’t get along man, we tried it
What’s the point in even tryin’?
I hate a goofy especially
They always dyin’ to mention me
They gotta die out eventually
I cannot give you the recipe
You know the game is sold separately
Swear I just had an epiphany
It cost me 50 at Tiffany’s
Shout out to Tiffany, Stephanie
They used to always come check for me
My enemies wanna be friends with my other enemies
I don’t let it get to me
Weston Road Flows is the best song on the album, a remembrance of Take Care era Drake with a lush and lovely sample of Mary J. Blidge’s Mary’s Joint. Here Drake sounds alive, refreshed, and rejuvenated.
Weston Road flows, my confidence level gettin’ settled
Don’t get hyped for the moment then start to backpedal
Don’t let your newfound fame fool you or cloud up your judgement
To talk loosely, I really do this
Been flowin’ stupid since Vince Carter was on some through the legs arm in the hoop shit
Drinkin’ Hpnotiq with Glenn Lewis I been through it
Y’all was so afraid to lay claim to it
Too busy face screwin’ on waste movements
You was ridin’ TTC metro, I had the place boomin’
First take Drake, you know I rarely have to take two it
The good times however do not last, almost every song afterwards and into the middle and ending of the album is nothing more than a much worse reworking of better songs from previous Drake albums. Grammy’s, featuring Future, is a left over from last year’s WATTBA mixtape. One Dance was better when it was called Hold On, We’re Going Home. Fire And Desire is a barebones Best I Ever Had (with Brandy’s I Dedicate pt. 2 sampled for good measure) The Summer’s Over Interlude is a call back to the Bria and Cece’s Interludes from So Far Gone and Thank Me Later. Even the title track Views, Drake’s requisite “Yes I CAN rap!” song, is sonically and thematically a rehash of 6pm In New York. There is nothing new, fresh, or illuminating about this album. 40’s production is the same water droplets and sauna effort, bordering on the insufferably mundane. There is a lack of focus, of passion, coursing throughout the lifeblood of this project. 20 tracks of an artist with absolutely nothing original to say, simply the same formula, which has proven successful, at the cost of any type of artistic credibility.
Drake has explained recently that the album is meant to represent Canada’s changing seasons. With winter giving over to spring, spring to summer, and then back to the winds of winter. It is unfortunate that Drake seems to have interpreted the seasons as rebirth through repetition rather than as the dawning of new possibilities. With its mish mash of lazy lyrics, humdrum production, and unfocused direction, Views has simply left me cold.