This review is probably going to rattle a few people. This has been the most anticipated album in a very long time. There was a lot of talk about what kind of album this would be. Would this be the one that becomes his classic? Either way, I was sure of one thing: he wasn’t going to please everybody. Between Nothing Was The Same and VIEWS, Drake has become such a global superstar. So much has happened between then and now. There is so much to talk about, there is so much background context for this album. This is probably why this will be my longest album review and probably the most important so far. Because there is so much to talk about, I think it is only right that I review the album track-by-track and then at the end give my final thoughts.
- Keep the Family Close – Vocally, this was faultless. In terms of subject matter, it is what we have come to know him for. At the end of the song I was left thinking that Drake no longer really has an outlet to air-out his feelings without being called “too emotional” or “too soft”. Anyway, the content in the song I found to not be as straight forward as it seems. What I mean by that is that at first you might just think he is just Draking and talking about where is in his life right now in terms of friendships/relationships (nothing new here) but then the more I listened to this song the more I started to really go back and reflect on his stuff from years ago leading up to this song right here. I came to the conclusion that he is also talking about himself here. “I knew you before you made ends meet and now we’re meeting our end/ and it’s all because you chose a side/ you’re supposed to put your pride aside and ride for me/ guess it wasn’t time/ and of course you went and chose a side that wasn’t mine” I feel like on these few lines, he is doing what is called introspection. Right now, I feel like Drake’s goals and dreams as far as music goes have drastically changed between Comeback Season and VIEWS. If you go back and listen to the stuff he was rapping about back then and the hunger he had in him, it is very different to what he is talking today. Back then, all he really wanted was to have money, have an abundance of women and become respected in the game. As the years went by, the success came, the money came and the women came. However, the respect was slow to come. I think a part of him feels like he “betrayed” himself in some ways in order to get where he is today. I could really go on about this notion, but it would take the whole day. But think about it. Other than that, it is a different intro when compared to previous intros like “Tuscan Leather”, “Lust For Life” and even “Over My Dead Body”. On these songs I’ve just mentioned, he gives us some great bars and dope quotables through rap, whereas this time he chose to sing the intro. I also feel like it drags on a bit, unnecessarily.
“I made a decision last night that I would die for it/ Just to show the city what it takes to be alive for it”
2. 9 – Coming off that long intro, this really got me going again. Having listened to this album more times than I can count, every time I hear this song, I can’t help but wonder what it is like to be from Toronto and playing this. I feel like this was really for his people up North. There is little I can fault him on here. There were some quotables and one or two subtle bars which I appreciated. Leading up to this album release, there was obviously much talk about what kind of project it would be. Would it be a straight rap album? Would he sing the whole damn thing? Would he address the Meek situation? While all of these topic of discussions were going around, all I could say was that Drake’s room for “corny” bars was close to nothing. Having witnessed the whole ghost-writing controversy, I kept saying that every bar that Drake utters on this album would have to leave no room for scrutiny for being too corny or whatever it is they’ve called him out for in recent years. So, when I listened to this song and heard the line “turned the 6 upside-down, it’s a 9 now” I immediately knew that this would be the topic for anybody talking about this song. It’s a reach, you know. He says “Keychain go jang-a-lang, I wanna do major things” but that is not as bad as the 9 line. Why? Because of the way he delivers this line. Had Wayne said that 9 bar, people wouldn’t have made a big fuss about it, but because it’s Drake, the expectations are much higher now for what he says and how he says it.My favorite thing about this song is probably the fact that they sampled Mavado’s song “Dying”. It brings in a Jamaican feel to the song, and it’s a theme we see throughout the album. Very strategic choice of sample.
“Girl I had your back when all you used to do was front”
3. U With Me? – “On some DMX sh!t/ I group DM my exes.” When I heard this opening line, my expectations for the rest of the song shot through the roof. With every listen, the feeling of nostalgia that the song was giving me kept on growing. It was only two weeks ago that I realized why this was happening. The first part of this song gives me the same feeling “Dreams Money Can Buy” gave me back in 2011. The production by 40 and Kanye, and the flow he chose to use was nostalgic. However, once again, lines like “you toying with it like Happy Meal” make you want to question the Boy a bit. But it doesn’t matter much because soon after that, the song switches up to a whole new level. He goes into some hard singing type of flow. Similar to what you would hear from Bryson Tiller or PARTYNEXTDOOR. All in all, this, in my opinion, was his first closest song to perfect so far into the album.
“I had to let go of us to show myself what I could do”
4. Feel No Ways – This was a straight up Pop/R&B song. When I first listened to it, my first thought was that this sounds so much like what Majid Jordan would do. When the official credits for the album were finally out, I was happy to see that my judgement was correct: The song was indeed produced by Jordan Ullman of Majid Jordan. I overheard someone saying that this song felt unfinished, particularly production-wise. I don’t know, man. Everyone digests music differently, I guess. It was good for what it was meant to be. The song features a sample of the song “World’s Famous” by Malcolm McLaren. Clean stuff by Jordan Ullman on production.
“Last year I know you learned your lesson/ I could GPS you if you need addressin’”
5. Hype – This is the first club-banger thus far into the album. I was dabbing all the way till the end. The bars here were unquestionable. “I feel like Juelz Santana/ leg hangin out the Phantom” This was a dope shout to Juelz and his legendary stunt he pulled in the Phantom years ago. Lines like “Views already a classic” and “Her Gram too popping to fvck her/ the chain too heavy to tuck it, I’m serious!” and “I could GPS you if you need addressing!” and “my enemies wanna be friends with my other enemies/ I don’t let it get to me!” are being quoted all over social media. I mean, almost every line is quotable this time. No bar was wasted. I think it was Boi 1da handling the production here, I can’t remember. A line that stood out for me was “I do my own propaganda” You are probably wondering why such a simple line would stand out for me. Well, I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the moves Drake and his team do. The strategies and intentions behind everything. They’re not just doing things just for the sake of doing things. Every move is calculated. From the haircut, to the dance moves and the memes. This is very apparent in Hotline Bling, but I will get to that later. All in all, I can see this song being a huge hit in the clubs and on the road when he goes on tour.
“Creepin’ like Chilli without no Tender Love and Care”
6. Weston Road Flows – This song opens up with a soulful Mary J. Blige sample. When Drake says “One of dem ones” before the verse starts, you get the feeling that it was going to be one of those introspective rap songs that many fans have grown to love him for. If you are the Drake fan who thinks Drake is at his best when he is rapping for minutes on minutes on a song, then this is probably one of your favorite cuts from the album. On this song he is reminiscing about his life before he blew up, “back when we couldn’t buy pizza ‘cause we were down to pennies” where is at right now, “feeling like the difference between us is really starting to show” and where he wants to go, “You’re number one, I’m Eddie Murphy/ We’re trading places”. Everything comes full circle on this joint.
The lyricism on here was very good. I feel like he was able to show his ability to construct real bars and witty wordplay lines and a few quotables as usual. “Creepin’ like Chilli without no Tender Love and Care” is probably my favorite line on the entire album. This line may have flew over the heads of many people, especially those who are not familiar with the legendary group, TLC. If you are not familiar with the group, then I will enlighten you a bit. Chilli was/is (I don’t know what’s going on with them these days) a member of the group TLC and so basically Drake is playing with the words here when he mentions the word “Chilli” and as well the words “Tender Love and Care”. Get it? Chilli? Tender Love and Care? TLC? Ha! Clean stuff! His wordplay on here made me put some more respek on his name.
“I got a price on my head, but there’s a risk in collecting/ I might be here as a vessel to teach these people a lesson” He is speaking nothing but facts here. We saw what happened with Meek last year when he made an example of him on Back to Back. However, lines like “I get green like Earth Day/ you treat me like I’m born yesterday, you forgot my birthday” I feel like he could have done just fine without. They are one Drake-ism away from being corny. And as I already mentioned before, his room for those type of lyrics is very small. Other than this line, I feel like everything he said on here was purposeful. There were hardly any bars wasted. 40 was on production here and he really came through for the Boy.
“Since Take Care, I’ve been caretakin’”
7. Redemption – Another classic production by 40 on here. I have mixed feelings about this song. The reason why I say this is because we have heard this type of Drake before. But that does not take away from it being a good song. I have spoken to many people about this album and most of them share the opinion that this is Take Care Drake we are getting on this song and on most of the album. My perspective on this song is that, even though there is nothing new about Drake on here, I feel like this was one of those songs that 40 and Drake planned all the way down to the type of snare to include or remove, and the type of adlibs to use, if any. For example, take the sample they chose to use. This is a Ray J “One Wish” sample. Now think about the lyrics to that song and then listen to what Drake is saying on this one. Not a coincidence. I think for Drake and where he is in his life right now, this was an important song to write, especially the second part of the song where he delivers a rap verse. For me, that moment is pivotal because, once again we see things come full circle in terms of past relationships that he once talked about. He gives us an update on his feelings about Erica and his other women from his past that he once talked about in his songs. “Since Take Care, I’ve been care taking” this line proves my point that this song is an update on what he was going through during Take Care and where he is now. If your favorite Drake album is Take Care, then you most probably love this song.
“Mixing vodka and emotions, tapping into your emotions”
8. With You (Ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR) – This is another R&B/Pop song. This is definitely going to be a radio single in the near future. Vocally, both artists did their thing. But I have to mention Jeremih for also contributing to the song, even though he was not credited on the title. At first I thought it was Roy Woods, but the more I listened the more I started to realize that it was Jeremih.
“Cause you talk like you got what I need/ You talk like you got the juice and the squeeze”
9. Faithful (Ft. Pimp C & dvsn)– Man, this song is dope. When the leak surfaced before the album dropped, I thought the Drake verses were good, I thought he was great on the hook but I also felt that the Pimp C verse was very random. As much as I love and respect Pimp C, I just feel like Drake could’ve found a different verse that better suited the song, if he wanted to show love to Houston that badly. Or maybe there is a reason why he chose this particular one, a reason I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of OVO’s calculated moves again. Anyway, the album version is waayyy better than the first version. I really thought Drake had done a phenomenal job on this song until dvsn (an R&B act recently signed to OVO) came in in the second half of the song and from there it really becomes their song. By the end of the song, I had forgotten that this started off as a Drake song. This is one of the best moments on the entire album. This was dvsn’s only contribution to the album, as far as the public knows, and they did an incredible job.
“Hittin’ like that 30 on my jersey man I’m gifted”
10. Still Here– This is the typical Drake where for the most part you don’t really know if he is singing or rapping. Nothing much to say about this song other than that it is an easy listen. It will probably get a lot of requests on radio.
11. Controlla – This, in my opinion is one of the best cuts on the album. This was one of the leaked songs leading up to the release date of VIEWS. The leaked version of the song was featuring Dancehall superstar, Popcaan. This came as no surprise as OVO has been open about their ties with the Caribbean culture, particularly with Unruly (Popcaan’s team). You may or may not have picked up on some of the audio clips used in If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. OVO-Unruly also became a big thing last year. However, the album version does not feature Popcaan but instead added a sample of Beenie Man’s “Tear Off Mi Garment.” When I heard the version with Popcaan, I thought that Popcaan didn’t elevate the song in any way and when I heard the album version, I thought that Beenie Man didn’t do much either. I like the idea of Drake and Popcaan making music together, but I think they just need to spend time in studio and figure out what a Drake&Popcaan song sounds like. Other than the issue with the features, this song is just amazing. Definitely a summer cut.
12. One Dance (Ft. Wizkid & Kyla) – Another dope cut by Drake with some help from WizKid and Kyla. This surprised everyone when it climbed all the way to the top of Billboard Top 100. This is Drake’s first number one. Hard to believe, right? Many people don’t know that Kyla’s vocals and most of the arrangement here is from a song she did many years ago called “Do You Mind”. In my opinion, these dancehall songs really save the album in a sense that they bring a different feel to it. It’s a version of Drake we have never heard before. Something refreshing. This is not just a dancehall record, it’s not just a pop record and it’s not just an R&B record. It’s a sound that is appealing to the masses on a global scale.
13. Grammys (Ft. Future) – This collaboration came as no surprise considering the fact the these two gave us whole tape together last year. Drake really went off on this beat, no lie. His verse just kept getting better and better. I really enjoyed the song until Future surfaced. My only issue is that he did not elevate the song like we know him to do. It just felt like the level dropped after Drake exited the song. Before I even listened to the song I was already skeptical about this feature because I just felt like it was a waste of a feature. Reason for this is because we have heard Drake and Future so many times in this past year that I felt like there was going to be nothing new about this song. I thought the Pimp C verse should’ve been left out, I thought the Bennie Man piece should’ve been left out and I think this Future feature should’ve been left out. But that’s just my view, as far as strategic features go. This will, however, be a club anthem.
14. Child’s Play – This is just dope song. The sample is dope. The hook is really for the strippers. The verses were cool too. The flows he chose to use here are really what make the song what it is. There is not much to say about this cut other than that this hook will be very popular as the album grows. The track samples Ha-Sizzle’s New Orleans bounce classic “Rode That Dick Like a Soldier.”
15. Pop Style – This was also another track that leaked along with “Faithful” and “Controlla” and like the others, the album version is different. The leak featured The Throne (JAY & Kanye) but the album version has none of them. When the version featuring The Throne surfaced, there was a lot of speculation as to why Jay only had two bars as opposed to Kanye’s or Drake’s full verses. There was even more talk when the album version came out and both Jay and Ye had been removed. When Drake explained how The Throne ended up being on the first version of the song he said that, initially, he had just asked Ye for a verse, not Jay. He said that when Ye was recording his verse, Jay was in studio with him and Jay decided to do just two lines, which were originally done by Drake himself. The reason as to why The Throne ended up being left out of the album is still unclear but my opinion is that because VIEWS was an Apple Music exclusive, and since Jay and Ye are shareholders in Tidal, it was more of a business related issue more than anything else. But that’s just my opinion.
Musically, this was a good effort by the Boy. His verses were great for the most part. But of course, lines like “Got so many chains, they call me Channing Tatum.” Really take away from the brilliance that was in this song.
16. Too Good (Ft. Rihanna) – This is another one of those cuts by him on the same vein as his other dancehall/pop offerings. I love this song. Rihanna really did well on here. Coming from somebody who makes music and consumes music very seriously and attentively, I have to say that Rihanna’s delivery, her cadences, and her subtle adlibs really elevated this song. Drake did well on his verses, especially his second verse. Just when it couldn’t get any better, Popcaan shows up as a surprise guest in the end. I know there will be comparisons between this song and “Work”, much like how a few years ago, some thought “What’s My Name” was a better effort than “Take Care”. This song is going to grow into quite a hit in the months to come.
17. Summers Over Interlude – This album has 20 tracks and so an interlude this late into the album makes you wonder why they would do such a thing. But, once again, this was a strategic placement because if you look at the previous 5 or 6 songs, they are all quite up-beat and full of energy. The previous songs give you that summer vibe. This song kind of slows things down and leads you back into that self-aware vibe. It serves as an intro chapter to the conclusion of this album. Even though it is not Drake singing here, it does the desired job. Well done to Majid for coming through and giving us one of the best moments on the album. If you liked this song, then I would strongly suggest that you go get the Majid Jordan self-titled album because there you will find more of these types of vibes.
18. Fire & Desire – This song for me is top 5 on the album. 40 sets the mood from the beginning with that dope sample. Drake is singing once again but not like how he was singing on the intro when he was hitting those high notes. Many people I have spoken to about this album say that this is their favorite song on the album. I think maybe it’s because it might be one of the most complete sounding songs on here. There is not much I would change on this song, to be honest.
“I’ve still got something left to prove since you left me room”
19. VIEWS – Technically, this is the final song on the album because Hotline Bling serves as a bonus cut. The song opens up with another soulful sample and just like Weston Road Flows, it is a very hard rap song. At first I thought it was produced by JustBlaze because of those hard hitting drums accompanied by soulful choir samples, just like “Lord Knows”. The content on here is much like “30 For 30”, or “6PM In New York” and the likes. He is really summarizing the whole project for us and letting us know where he is mentally. Unfortunately, though, unlike the aforementioned songs, this one lacks a certain level of tenacity and hunger. Not to say he did not give us bars and quotables, because he did. Lines like “I’ve still got something left to prove since you left me room” remind you that he is capable of much more, not just on this song but in career going forward. This was one of my favorite lines, along with the TLC line. I really enjoy wordplay that is on a higher level. This line is one of those that makes you have to think before you can really get it and appreciate it.
All-in -all though, I feel like he really held back on this one. This was his most anticipated album, and arguably his biggest, and that’s why I feel like he really should’ve dug deeper and give us something memorable. After so many years, we still talk about “9AM In Dallas”, “5AM In Toronto”, “6PM in New York” and now most recently “30 For 30”. These are all very memorable songs and I personally do not see this song being as memorable. My feelings might change, who knows. But as for now, I am not moved.
Individually, these songs are very good in their own right. As a whole, this album falls just a bit short of being a classic. I might be wrong. Everyone has different views and opinions when it comes to consuming and judging music. For the most part, it felt like a Take Care 2.0. Many critics and fans have said that Take Care is the best Drake album. So who knows, maybe this too will make its way to the top of the list.
In terms of content and subject matter, I feel like even though most of it was what we have come to expect from him, this time it was from a different perspective. I feel like on his previous projects, he was talking about his life, relationships and all of that, but for the most part he was talking about how all these things affected the people in subject or the people around him. This time, I feel like he is still talking about these things but now it’s more from his perspective, you know. It’s almost like he is telling us how these things affect him personally as opposed to how these things affect the world around him.
One line from his outro track that further reiterates a point I made on track 1 about Drake going through the most and not having a proper outlet is when he says “Thoughts too deep to go work em out with a therapist” Do you remember lines like “In person I am everything and more/ I’m everywhere these other niggas ever been before/ but inside I’m treading water, tryna swim to shore” or lines like “As a man, I’m just honest/ as an artist, I’m a king, with my own set of problems that be sitting on my brain” These lines come from a time and place before the record sales and the money, how much worse do you think it is now or how much worse is it about to get now that he is the biggest name in music? But if he continues to talk about his emotions, he will be criticized for being too soft or whatever. But then again, if he decides to say “fvck introspection” and talk about all the money and fame he has, he will slip away from his fans and will become unrelate-able. I am raising this point because I think it is really important to take into consideration where an artist is at in their life, what is going with family/friends/relationships, before making judgements on their projects. Artists like Drake have continuously remained very open about their personal lives and that is why when they drop albums, we really have to take into account many factors before arriving to a final judgement.
I know I said that on the outro song VIEWS, he doesn’t come across as hungry like he used to be, but it is important to note that it does not mean he is no longer hungry. I think now his hunger is placed in a different place. It’s no longer just about being the best rapper out; it is no longer just about putting his City on. It is global. The vision is much bigger now. Much like most of Drake’s moves, we’ll only find out where this hunger lies in the future. At this point though, I don’t think even he knows how big he can really take this. I mean, he has an idea, but I don’t think he knows for sure. VIEWS is much bigger than what any of us can see at this point. But then again, these are just my VIEWS.
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