Drake explores humble style in evolving rap persona

Change your oil, get your brakes checked and make sure your headlights are work­ing, because this is one of those albums that de­mands to be listened to while driving at night. This isn’t an album from the same Drake that dropped “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” This is an album that has more in common with his sophomore album “Take Care.” But is this a return to form for Drake? Or is it a desperate grab for a better time?

I honestly thought Drake was completely turning away from his more emotional years with the double-take that was last year’s albums. Drake seemed to be completely ignoring his old “heartbreak Drake” moniker in favor of an over­ly-arrogant style of music. This isn’t to say that Drake is completely done with his more brag­gadocious rap, but Drake is definitely more fo­cused on his more reflective style of music.

And by more reflective, I mainly mean that Drake never strays too far from the subject of girls, and more specifically his ex-girlfriends. Additionally, in this respect, Drake is at his most sensitive and you have to look no further than the lyrics to find this out. “Cuts too deep for a band-aid solution” Drake laments on the DMX-sampling “U With Me?” which while typ­ical heartbroken Drake, is ironically my favorite song on the album. One line later, Drake some­how tops that last example by croaking out the line: “LOLOL I’m glad you find this shit amus­ing.” If you’re wondering, Drake pronounces it EL-OH-EL-OH-EL instead of the suburban mom method, lawlawl, which I find immensely disap­pointing.

This is not an isolated case on one song. Over the course of this 20(!)-track album, Drake will consistently deliver some lines that are cheesy enough to be served with mac. “Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake?” Drake whines on the 14th track “Child’s Play.” The ultimate line on the album before the bonus track, “If I was you, I wouldn’t like me either,” Drake states on the grandiose closer “Views.”

But what about the bangers? Does Drake bring the same level of energy he brought to tracks like “Jumpman” from last year? This would be expected, as the rapper would want to keep the momentum going from last year’s string of hits. However, this is not found on “Views.”

Sure, there is the Future-featuring “Gram­mys” and other high-energy songs like “Hype” or “9,” but these songs can’t hold a candle to “Jumpman” or any of the other high-energy tracks from Drake’s previous albums. And while these songs aren’t bad, it’s clear that Drake is fo­cusing on his slower style of music.

So where does that leave the album? Well, it’s cheesy, sappy, 20-songs long and slow. Not a good combination. So why am I giving it four stars out of five? Mainly because while I ac­knowledge these faults, I think this album is great. This album, while it certainly isn’t Drake’s hardest album, or even his most diverse album, is probably his best-produced and best-sound­ing album he has put out.

This album is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Drake has always had an ear for some killer beats, but on “Views,” the production is out of this world. From the falsetto vocals on “Weston Road Flows” to the heavy synths on “Fire and Desire,” the beats on this album are impeccable and Drake meshes with them to great effect.

Not to say that it’s just the beats that makes this album great, but a newfound sense of sub­tlety that Drake shows off on “Views.” Drake re­ally has never been known for his subtlety, but on this album, Drake delivers some truly beauti­ful moments musically that I didn’t entirely pick up on until I listened to a track multiple times.

Take the track “U With Me?,” an excellent track about Drake questioning if the relation­ships around him are genuine. On the first listen, I thought this track was generic and for the most part it is lyrically bland. But now when I listen to it, I notice so many small parts of the song that make it one of my favorites. Small parts such as the violins that bridges the two halves of the song, this weird, quiet computer beeping that plays after the chorus and how these tone-shift­ed vocals swell in volume as Drake really starts belting out verses on the closer to this track. This track just has so much going on sonically, especially for an artist such as Drake that usual­ly relies on more simplistic beats.

This newfound sense of subtlety isn’t just contained to a couple tracks either; the album as a whole has a subtle progression to it that I missed on my first listen. The album pulls the whole “progressing through the seasons” shtick that Lupe Fiasco did on his last album. But this season’s theme isn’t overplayed, and the pro­gression from the colder winter tracks to the warm summer tracks like “Too Good” feels nat­ural.

There are some final things I have to bring up before I can consider this review complete. First is that for as much as Drake plays with his music, his lyrics aren’t exactly special. Sure you have his cheesy lines, then you have some standout bars throughout the album, but for the most part Drake keeps his lyric game lukewarm, which I think is okay if the songs sound as good as they do on this album.

The album also has some tracks that are filler, mainly “Hype” and “Still Here”; but to only have two filler tracks on a 20-track album is a feat.

All being said, I really hope that “Views” doesn’t get written off for the album not being what people thought it would be because this album feels like a step up for Drake. Sure, he doesn’t change his style up much, but he focuses on refining what he does down to an art.

Give this album a try, and don’t write it off af­ter one listen either. After all, if you’re as cheesy as Drake is, it makes sense that you would age well.

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