“I made a career off of reminiscing.”
The great ones walk a path that only few can find. Mainly because they’ve carved it out for themselves. When we look at the history of pop culture and music, we can see it with acts like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and with the late and very great Prince and David Bowie. Today you can see it with Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Another thing that sets these artists apart is that we can see the evolution of their talent over the years as they take us with them on a musical journey. A good example of this is Kanye where each of his albums is a snapshot of him at different moments in his life. There’s a journey from College Dropout to The Life of Pablo that we get to witness which speaks to the willingness to explore new ideas and test the limits. Then we have Drake, who many perceive to be the best rapper out there and his “fourth” studio album, Views From the 6.
The first time we heard about Views was in August 2014 and a lot has happened since then. From signing to Apple Music to using Meek Mill as his whipping boy, there’s been a lot of time that has passed since Drake announced that this album would be coming out. And as the anticipation grew, he teased us along the way with tracks like Hotline Bling and more recently, Pop Style and One Dance. In November last year, a “the 6 is watching” billboard went up in Toronto. It’s actually difficult to keep up with all the hints and teases that came over the last 20 months, but for all the anticipation that had fueled its huge release, Views had to be absolute fire for it to be worth it. Except that at its best it’s warm.
Yes. Warm. There’s nothing here that we haven’t heard before. The beats are nice. The flow is great. The lyrics are cool. Yeah we know you can sing. But how much road is left on the musical journey for the man who’s never had a No. 1 song on the Billboards charts? Initially with So Far Gone and then Thank Me Later, Drake appealed to the masses because he was a very personal rapper, that the average person could relate to. He touched on emotional topics that guys may have felt but never spoke about in person. He earned a reputation for being soft when he was just being himself. But here we are 7 years later and nothing has really changed. The beats are better and he’s jacking different music cultures (Dancehall and Afrobeat) but the tropes have only been repeated. Just how many exes and lost friends can one continue to croon about?
It’s not a bad album at all, but it’s hard for the listener who isn’t a Drake stan to differentiate between his “four” albums. Like I said earlier, it feels lukewarm and like he says on U With Me, “I made a career of reminiscing.” For me at this point, it’s not a matter of “how good is this album” but “am I still into this or not”. Maybe that’s why Thank Me Later is still his best work in my opinion and this pales in comparison. Because I’m not the same person I was 6 years ago, but it feels like Drake still is.
With saying that, there are some songs that stand out from the rest for me. The two tracks co-written by Kanye West, “U With Me” and “Feel No Ways” have Kanye’s fingerprints all over them. I’m expecting “Feel No Ways” to be one of the bigger hits from the album this summer other than “One Dance.” “Weston Road Flows” is classic Drake greatness and belongs in the vault with his “Pound Cake” verses (Nothing Was The Same), “Underground Kings” (Take Care), “Fireworks” (Thank Me Later) and “Fear” (So Far Gone). All tracks that were the beats didn’t drown Aubrey out and his flows shone through allowing one to showcase why he deserves to be mentioned along with the greats.
Overall, the album is good but it definitely wasn’t worth the wait and it makes me more interested in seeing how his career pans out from here.
- I said “fourth” because I don’t like people telling me that If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was a mixtape (which you paid $12.99 for).
- This album would have been much better if it was four or five tracks better. “Pop Style” is absolute recycle bin material.
- “Too Good” with Rihanna is pretty dope even though I don’t care for the subject material.
- It’s actually crazy to think that Drake has never had the no. 1 song in America. Adele smashed his best hopes at that so far.