It’s been three years since Drake’s last studio album Nothing Was The Same, but last year’s commercial mixtapes If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and Future collaboration What A Time To Be Alive make it seem like Drake has barely left us at all in that interim. His omnipresence in the music industry is something shared by only a few of his peers.
Despite this, every time he releases something new there is always a huge buzz surrounding it, probably due to the fact that he’s one of the few who has the massive crossover attraction of being a huge rap star that still appeals to the masses.
His fourth studio offering, previously titled Views From The 6, was released last week, and over a sprawling eighty minutes and twenty tracks, Drake offers us another journey through his psyche - something he’s proven himself to be a master of previously (Listen to a clip from 'Views' below).
Album opener, 'Keep The Family Close', sets the tone: introspection. A low-tempo production from Maneesh with sparse percussion sets us off on a downbeat note, but Drake’s delivery and wordplay as well as the sharp drum blasts that are dropped in intermittently throughout the track make for a captivating opening.
The album’s first ten tracks mostly continue this mood, and is considerably low energy, meandering from song to song with many often blurring into one. The best picks from the album’s opening half are 'U With Me?' and 'Feel No Ways', both of which feature writing and production from Kanye West, and there's a hook up with recurrent collaborator PartyNextDoor on 'With You'.
'U With Me?' is a DMX-sampling slow jam, and Drake excels on it. His low register rapped delivery suits the production perfectly, and when he effortlessly climbs to his higher register singing voice in the song’s third act, it adds an aggressive and emotional punch to the track.
'With You' sees the two rappers playing off each other over a stuttering beat and the chemistry between the two is evident. It goes to show why they have such a great track record together, and is a welcome addition to their joint repertoire.
The album begins to pick up on 'Controlla', the eleventh track. Previously a collab with dancehall artist Popcaan, now a solo offering, the song is a perfect companion piece and follow up to Rihanna’s huge smash 'Work', which Drake featured on.
The bouncy beat offers a light relief from the first half of the album, and is the first of six tracks which make up the LP’s best section, running through to track sixteen, 'Too Good', a tropical jam which incidentally features Rihanna herself, and is another great collaboration between the two which they now have under their belts.
Following is 'One Dance' (Hear it in a clip below) featuring Wizkid and Kyla, which recently topped the charts in the UK. This type of song really is Drake at his best. The staccato percussion and house-inspired piano chords are a perfect match, and the song is bound to become a dance floor classic as well as one of his most well-loved singles in the future.
The albums veers back into Drake navel-gazing over low energy beats towards the close of the album, before ending with last year’s summer smash 'Hotline Bling', which feels out of place.
Overall, Views comes off a cohesive work which is done well, but done to death. Drake seems to be on autopilot for most of the slower tracks, which make up a massive portion of the album, and it’s all ground that has been well-trodden, and has been done better by him in the past.
There’s not a single bad track here, and it’s a solid addition to Drake’s already wonderful discography, but when it comes to Views, you can’t help but wish that we could see a little further.
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