Album Review: Drake – ‘Views’

By now, you’ve all encountered what could (and most likely will) be rap greatest selling album of 2016. After two long years of hype, countless one-off singles, and a slight title change, Drake’s fourth studio album ‘Views’ has finally been made available for public consumption.

Originally titled ‘Views From The 6′, the lead up to this album has been one of the biggest in recent memory. Not only were fans sitting and waiting for Drake’s next move, but the world was watching for this generation’s greatest MC to bring us a little closer and make us all appreciate the 6.

But did he? When talking to Zane Lowe about the themes on ‘Views’, Drake had the following to say:

The album is based around the change of the seasons in our city. So, it starts out in the wintertime – that was basically what I used to tie it all together. winter to summer and back to winter again. It’s just to show you the two extreme moods that we have cause we’re very grateful for our summers but we also make our winters work. It creates a different type of atmosphere, a different sound in the music.

And with that, any preconceived notions of the album changed. No longer were we expecting lit bangers about Drake being proud of his roots or diving even deeper into his past, we get a collection of songs that were stylized to reflect the way of life in the 6. Alright, you’ve got us there…

And with that we’re left a little disappointed – but before we get into the thick of things, we decided to change things up (just like Drizzy) and give a track-by-track breakdown of his already record breaking set.

 

‘Keep The Family Close

As winter creeps back into the 6, Drake returns back to Toronto – a little more broken than usual and let down by those closest to him. Is it the fall out between him and Nicki? The distance that seems to grow between him and The Weeknd? Whoever has done Drake wrong, you’ve got him questioning everyone and everything around him. Nice one.

With ‘Keep The Family Close’, there’s a bit of switch up in sound for Drake. The production is hollow, a bit more live than usual. A track that truly sets the stage for ‘Views’.

9

Yeah, for the dogs dem, you know‘, Drake whispers before he launches into the record’s first full on rap song. Falling in line with the record’s theme, ‘9′ cheekily tips its hat to Drake’s influence on Toronto and his allegiance to his city. Not the strongest song…but guiding us along to something strong that’s right around the corner.

U With Me?’

Ah. So we greet introspective, reminiscent Drake three tracks deep. Instead of getting in his feelings, Drake confronts an ex who still plays hot and cold after all the years. Could it be about Rihanna? The lyric “remember you was livin’ at the London for a month/Service elevator up to 4201/We was still a secret, couldn’t come in through the front” has us thinking…

Also, that vocal performance at the end of the third verse. We got you, Papi.

‘Feels No Way’ 

Now that Drake’s back in Toronto, an old love has resurfaced to remind him of what he left when he fled the city; her. We think he’ll be ok, girl…

Drake taps into Majid Jordan’s world thanks to Jordan Ullman, half of the moody pop duo, on the production board. The nostalgic, synth driven beats bring out the best in Drake’s voice. 100% an album highlight.

Hype

Drake attacks his peers (and possibly “goofy” Meek Mill) on this braggadocios banger. The flow is similar to most of the one-off singles he released in 2015 and a lot of the material that appeared on ‘If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’.  Nothing new, but the definition of a grower.

‘Weston Road Flows’

A tribute to one of Toronto’s neighborhoods and Drake’s old stomping grounds, the rapper reminisces on times before he got famous and how his life has changed since those days. Plenty of pop culture references and metaphors on deck for this one – a song for all those hometown fans.

‘Redemption’

Continuing the narrative from ‘9′ and ‘Feels No Way’, Drake seemingly can’t convince a former flame to give him a little bit more time to consider a commitment on this smooth R&B jam. To be frank, it goes on a little too long for our tastes, but we’re always here for a sung-rap Drizzy slow jam.

‘With You’

Things pick back up on this PARTYNEXTDOOR assisted joint. Hands down, it has the album’s strongest hook. There’s not much to it, but we feel pretty comfortable in calling this afro-beat laced track a banger.

‘Faithful’

This. Song. Contains quite possibly the sexiest verse we’ve ever heard escape Drake’s lips. We speculated that this was a response to Rihanna and ‘Work’ back when the song leaked and we still stand by that. Another classic to add to his roster.

‘Still Here’

As the waves crash on Lake Ontario and ice starts to thaw, Drake takes the energy from ‘Hype’ and continues to brag about how far his come in the rap game and that no one can knock him down. Take note everyone: he’s not going anywhere.

‘Controlla’

Another leaked track that made the final cut. It may not have the bite that ‘One Dance’ or even ‘Hotline Bling’ has; but with Drake experimenting a little more with a different vibe, he successfully breathes life into his sound with this soon to be hit.

‘One Dance’

One Dance’ is on the cusp of becoming Drake’s first #1 single and it’s well deserved. We dare you to find a song this year with a more solid hook and chorus. We’ll wait.

‘Grammys’

The album’s biggest misstep. The only enjoyable part of the song is when Drake raps “I’m shirt off” over and over so we can mentally picture those shirtless Instagram pictures.

‘Child’s Play’

Like – ridiculous. We have a song from Drake that details his love for Cheesecake Factory. It’s now a thing. Now excuse us as we “bounce that shit like whoa” to this trap infused banger.

‘Pop Style’

The hard-hitting rap songs are very few and far between on ‘Views’ and ‘Pop Style’ takes the title as the hardest. It may have lost its shine with the removal of The Throne, but nonetheless a song that could fit right in between some of most lethal cuts.

‘Too Close’

And AubRIH lives on. Teaming up together for the fourth time (at least professionally), Ri and Drake trade verses about the one taking the other’s love for granted. The sound keeps very much in line with most of their work and the poppier style Drake explored on some of the standouts on this record. A future single, no doubt.

Side note: Is this real life or a soap opera that we’re watching? Is it time for a Drake and Rihanna collaborative album yet?

‘Fire & Desire’

One last introspective moment before the album closes – Drake’s busy chasing around a girl who already has a man. Did she leave her guy and run off with Drake now that the summer is over? We only pray that she didn’t fall asleep during this mellow four minute cut.

Views’

Again – Drake shares his successes and his current head space on the album’s closing and title track. This time, he looks forward to the future and what’s next. Drake always brings things to an end on a high note. ‘Views’ might not be the highest – but damn, is it stronger.

 

Going back to Drake’s Beats1 interview with Lowe, he said something very interesting about his thought process going into creating ‘Views’

I really tried to…I come off those two mix tapes and it was about being in the club, it was about having the hottest joints, and this was more like what is a cohesive, incredible listening experience from me? What can I do for this generation to create distance from myself and anyone else and do something that no one else can really achieve or accomplish. And I think I used my writing and my voice in ways…I’m really proud of the songwriting on here.

More than anything, ‘Views’ is the yang to ‘If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’ and ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ ‘s yang. It was an interesting approach for him to take – and for the first time since ‘Take Care’ he taps into the moody vibe he carved out for himself – but was it enough?

Let’s be honest, it takes more than a handful of listens to get into ‘Views’. A lot of hype went into this record and it was set up like one thing. In a lot of ways, it’s a disappointment. Is this the record that ‘Views From The 6′ was assumed to be? No.

At times it’s way too mellow, songs go on for far too long, certain features are unnecessary (dvsn on ‘Faithful’ is just too painful to endure), and there’s the overall absence of Drake’s rap persona. We love when he changes it up and sings – but is there a such thing as too much of it?

With that being said, Drake still managed to create a very cohesive body of work and use his voice in ways we’ve never heard before. We challenge him on the songwriting aspect (that Chrysler/Bentley line still haunts us), but overall ‘Views’ is very much a grower and a solid album. The way we feel about it now doesn’t match how we felt during its first spin.

If you’re in the same boat as us, the good news we can all take away from ‘Views’ is that Drake still has his greatest album ahead of him. Slowly, but surely he’ll get there. He’s on the right track, but still has a bit more to get there – after all, do we want him to peak this early (don’t answer that because we know you’re thinking of ‘Take Care’)?

If you’ve had your doubt, go and give it another spin…or two…or five. Throw on some headphones and really listen to the record. We can promise that you’ll find more than a few things to love about ‘Views’. If we did after the shock of not getting the record we expected, then you will too.

Download ‘Views’ on iTunes.

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