Drake is in a sentimental and reflective mood on his latest offering, ‘Views’.
The 6 God’s previous two projects, ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ and the Future-assisted ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ were arguably his most gritty and tough. Less singing, less relationships; more bass, more bravado. It seemed Drizzy had taken a new direction in his path to rap-godliness.
Then “Hotline Bling” dropped, with an accompanying dance that got Miley Cyrus twerkin’ levels of attention. With one questionable skank, Drake made it clear he had not left his Pop Style behind.
‘Views’ finds Drizzy rap-singing over beats that have in-house producer Noah ‘40’ Shebib’s stamp all over them. Catchy R&B samples? Check. Sub-aquatic outros? Check. Melodic synths? Check. Many of the hallmarks of Drake’s earlier albums are here, and yet there are some differences. Firstly, a funky, dancehall feel to parts of the project, as is evident on two of the first songs released from the album, “Controlla” and the Crazy Cousinz sampling “One Dance”.
On top of that, Drake says this is his “highest level of vocal performance”, which is justified on the Kanye West co-produced ‘U With Me?’. On the track, Drizzy takes his melody game to whole new levels of variety and emotion, crooning passionately in the outro, “I got responsibilities / To people that I need / And on my way to make this dough / A lot of n**** cut the cheque so they can take this flow / A lot of n**** cut the cheque so they can take this flow”.
He goes on, rapping, “Tried to give your ass the world / You running your fingers through my curls / You knew me when the kid had waves / But that’s enough of that / You could never say I came up and forget about your ass and that’s some real shit.”
In many ways, many of the defining characteristics of the album are encapsulated in those bars. The variation between singing and rapping, Drake flexing vocally, dismissive references to lesser rappers, nostalgia over estranged relations, self-righteousness and, crucially, sincerity. “Some real shit”. Drake has got a monopoly on honest emotion in the rap game and we see a lot of it on the project. From lovers who have moved on (“Redemption”) to relationships that stagnated (“Feel No Ways”), “there’s a lot of harsh truth on this album”, as Driz himself puts it.
The production throughout is inventive, fusing different styles and utilizing catchy samples to great effect. The Winans’ “Question Is” sample is the perfect introduction for Drake to let off some quips (“And my wifey is a spice like I’m David Beckham”) and memories (“I dropped out right before I graduate / Six credits left, my momma had her saddest day”) on “Views”, and there is a great Mary J. Blige loop on “Weston Road Flows”.
There are some imperfections, though. At twenty songs, the album is slightly too long and some filler could be cut. Particularly when comparing ‘Views’ to the work of Kendrick Lamar, Drake’s only real competitor for rap’s top spot, the album can also seem lacking in substance. ‘Views’ is also without the hair-raising moments of “Rollin Through the 6 with my…” and “Worst!”. Finally, what happened to Popcaan on “Controlla”? And The Throne on “Pop Style”? Both songs are weaker without the assistance.
That being said, the album is really, very good. ‘Views’ is the natural development of the ‘So Far Gone’ Drake that burst into the scene seven years ago. Drake and 40 show no sign of letting up.
“Views” is available here.