You guys, 2016 is lit. No, we mean really lit. It’s been a big year for music, full of Lemonade from Beyonce, stretching our hands to Kanye’s The Life of Pablo to millions pushing Prince’s legacy to the ethos following his untimely passing. In the middle of this comes the most-anticipated album of the year—the fourth LP from Drake.
VIEWS, the album previously known as Views From The 6, dropped via Apple Music on Friday evening (April 29). As fans gathered around their laptops fireside chats-style to listen and tweet their thoughts, Drake revealed to Beats 1’s Zane Lowe on the theme of the album, a changing of seasons in his homeland of Toronto. “We really love our summers but we really make our winters work,” he explained. “I thought it was very important to do the album here.” The 20-track LP opens up with sunny flashy joints like “Weston Road Flows” and “Still Here.” His reggae, Afropop influences on “Controlla” (no respek for Popcaan sadly), “One Dance” and RiRi-assisted “Too Good” show he and Noah “40” Shebib are great at challenging hip-hop’s sound.
While we’ll never fully see into Drake’s world other than what he presents, many have been quick to digest VIEWS as an album that doesn’t provide the right carbon footprint into the rapper’s legacy. As he bluntly spits “Views already a classic” on “Hype,” web tears flowed in a matter of keyboard commenters who argued the rapper peaked at his Grammy-winning sophomore album Take Care.
Seeing how many new artists have adopted the emo-raps the 29-year-old has made popular over the years, the rapper has already made classic moves. For two years, Drizzy boosted a curiosity for VIEWS while delivering If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and the joint Future album, What A Time To Be Alive, but also found ways to fuse his music into popular culture. “Hotline Bling” became a meme-machine, and now gives dudes a chance to break into dance in the clubs like us ladies get to do with “Formation” and “insert any banging jam here.”
His beloved formula is being tested, so much so that VIEWS isn’t given a chance. Here, we take a look at some revelations from VIEWS you may have missed during the witch hunt for a classic-Drake project.
On “Child’s Play,” The Boy isn’t thrilled to be around yet another aggy woman. “Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake, you know I love to go there.” His love games are well documented on wax but it’s clear he’s coming face to face with his player persona. On VIEWS, he presents what he can bring to a meaningful relationship—his litty bitty heart. “You just like my sidekick, I just wanna wife, fulfill all your desires,” he sings. But alas, we all want what he can’t have so “Zaddy Drake” and lit nights at La Marina will keep him busy until he’s paired with the lady of his dreams.
Outstanding production, Toronto perspectives (via “Pop Style” and “Weston Road Flows”) and tantalizing riddims were merely overlooked by those who dismissed his perspective as one-sided or his lyrics as weak. VIEWS was clearly made for a certain audience, which happened to be the 600,000+ fans who bought the album on the first day. They’re the generation who sprouted after the crack era to the kids who enjoy Snapchat with their breakfast. Diverse and emotionally unstable, Drake’s lyrics help and hurt the dating life we live today. A gap of confusion will foster in every generation, let alone a lifestyle, but not all things are made with your desires in mind.
A lover of the golden age of hip-hop/R&B, samples from Mary J. Blige, Brandy, DMX seep through some of the best tracks on the album. Much like Kanye West, Drake is a clever guy at sampling. On tracks like “Weston Road Flows” (hey, it’s a favorite) and “Grammys,” he keeps the love flowing with references to Toronto artists like Glenn Lewis and “Hall of Fame” rapper Top5. “Hall of fame, hall of fame, like I’m shirt off, like I’m shirt off.. Top 5 no debating/Top 5, Top 5, Top 5,” he insists. His Instagram sample of an Amber Rose interview for “Faithful” also puts the icing on the very flavorful cake. His collaborations are just as satisfying with Future shining bright like the golden gramophone that is the title track “Grammys.” R&B imports Jerimih, Party Next Door, dvsn, Majid Al Maskati (one half of OVO’s Majid Jordan) and Kyla provide tantalizing vocals respectfully.
Taking a trip back to “Faithful,” Drake shares the track with the late Pimp C. The collabo is big for the rapper since his early tracks were influenced by Houston’s rap scene. The borrowed verse was used in Jay Z’s remix to “Tom Ford,” making it twice as stale. To hear Pimp’s voice was the gift that Aubrey wanted, but it does little to nothing on both records. Posthumous guest verses are off-putting and rarely shine (with the exception of the memorable and telling “Runnin (Dying to Live)” by Tupac and Biggie). Aaliyah’s harmonizing vocals have been used by artists like Drake and Chris Brown with major backlash while J.Cole’s use “Best Friend” by Missy Elliott and Baby Girl showed it can be done right. To avoid any bashing of fallen artist, its best we let their voices rest in peace.
Pharrell mentioned on his popular Beats 1 OTHERtone this weekend the changing shift of hip-hop. “So many people are caught up in the way things used to be,” he says. “This is evolution and we have to be happy about it and actually participate in the leading.”
It’s merely the reason why VIEWS works. The rapper’s presence is just as needed as righteous lyrics from Kendrick Lamar and Lil Durk, to the questioning of self Future and J.Cole deliver. Drake’s growth won’t be similar to those of his peers simply because it’s his own. When speaking on his mission with Lowe, the rapper opens up about creating a unified sound, a piece of hip-hop’s original mission statement. “I obviously spend a lot of time in my own world but when I do take a broader look at the scope of things, whether it’s issues with the world, I have a massive amount of prayers for everybody’s well-being,” he says. “I don’t directly, literally address that in my music. I try to make music that transcends gender and nationality to try and unify people.” We all have a place in this world and so do the many acts in hip-hop today. It’s up to us to move to the music that we truly enjoy, leaving more room for artists to work harder and smarter.
While the grooves of VIEWS take you to the streets of Toronto, the rapper’s quick witted lyrics peak through every now and then.”I don’t run out of material, you shouldn’t speak on me, period, you try to give your side of the story, they heard it, but they weren’t hearing it,” the rapper spits on “Hype,” hinting towards his beef with Meek Mill. He also wears the crown as the king of feelings on “You With Me?” while responding to claims of ghostwriting and owning his sound. “And on my way to make this dough, A lot of n***as cut the cheque so they can take this flow, A lot of n***as cut the cheque so they can take this flow.” Another gem from his discussion with Lowe was the promise of more music. “I got some other songs in the stash,” he said. “I’m gonna have an arsenal of songs that have nothing to do with VIEWS.”
Drake’s sound on VIEWS is right for the season. When he’s ready to snap, it will happen and as much as many like to deny, you’ll be back around to hear it.