Ten years ago, Aubrey Drake Graham was just finishing his stint as an actor in the Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation and decided to make his first mixtape, Room for Improvement. After hearing 19-year-old Drake in 2006 — and his two much-improved following mixtapes, Comeback Season and So Far Gone — there was no way to know that he would be anything more than a novelty act. Fast forward to today, and Drake has the highest-selling album of 2016 — an album that has five top-20 songs on it to date.
Drake is both the largest name in hip-hop and the biggest influence on the sound of today’s radio. Views is colossal, and so is Drake’s presence in pop culture — but does the music stand up? The album itself has three elements to it: the good, the bad, and the boring.
There’s a fantastic 40-minute album inside of this 81-minute project. That 40 minutes includes moments like "Weston Road Flows,” which is structured around a ‘90s Mary J. Blige sample and — in typical Drake fashion — he perfectly rides the beat with slick lyrics layered on top.
“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,” he raps comfortably on the track.
All over the album, he’s got bits and pieces of flows that show why he’s one of the best rappers in the game. On the title track “Views,” there are many one-liners where Drake drops the mic on the rap game. It’s moments like these that the rap community hunger for — if only he would feed us more.
So, while there is a fantastic 40-minute album inside Views, there is still one burning question: Why is there that extra 40 minutes?
Why are there four dancehall songs scattered throughout the album? That’s just enough to ruin any vibe the album has and too few to be any type of central theme. Drake’s confusion on what he wants this album to be is the downfall of what should’ve been his legacy album, an album that solidifies his place in music and hip-hop lore. But no; Drake and his team of Canadian producers and artists went for a mixture of uninspired, melodramatic slow songs with half-assed, top 20-baiting dancehall tracks. Sure, there are really good moments on this album that save it, but I can’t ignore the flaws.
Also, how can I not mention the worst line in rap history: “Got so many chains, they call me Chaining Tatum.” That is just a terrible, terrible line.
Throughout Drake’s illustrious career, he’s had a consistent flaw: He’s boring. Drake isn’t that entertaining of an interviewer and can sometimes rely too heavily on low-fi sounds on his projects. The latter is all too prevalent on Views. The majority of the first half of the album are songs that individually aren’t bad, but together become indistinguishable and a bore to listen through.
Really, this album gives us everything we’ve already heard and loved from Drake with no new sounds or perspectives. Views isn’t bad, but it’s not groundbreaking – it’s just par for the course.
by Bryce Browning
Song You Need To Hear: "Weston Road Flows"
Young Money Entertainment