Four words: The wait is over. It seems like it was many years ago (nearly two years ago, to be exact) that Drake announced the title of his fourth studio album, Views From The 6 (now titled ‘Views‘). Since that time, “the boy” has released two projects, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive with Future, found himself in a controversial beef with Meek Mill, and garnered a hit record with “Hotline Bling.” Say what you want about him, but Drizzy and the OVO camp know how to maneuver through a storm as if nothing happened. Just when everyone thought Drake was in position to fall apart, he somehow maintained his superstar status. Now, with that said, questions around his new album swirled with doubt that he’s already hit his peak. Let’s be honest: his previous two releases are far from let downs, but did they unanimously distance Drake further from his competition? Well, that’s up for debate.
Oh, I guess while we’re here, I should give you my *somewhat* unpopular opinion. You ready?
As much of a Drake fan that I am, I don’t believe he’s crafted an album that can be considered a classic. If you’re reading this, you’re probably reacting the same way my friends would. “What?! You don’t think Drake has any classics? Yo, Take Care is a classic! You bugging.” I get it all the time, but I firmly stand by my statement. To be real, Nothing Was The Same is my favorite Drake album, and that album still feels like it’s missing something each time I listen to it. Take Care is good, but it doesn’t standout as the defining album of his career, in my opinion. And Thank Me Later is….well….Thank Me Later. Certainly not a bad album at all — it’s just not in the conversation of Drake’s best album. If anything, I’m sure we can all agree on that one.
Right? Okay great. Let’s move on.
So, if you’re a part of the “Drake doesn’t have a classic” crew, then you’re hoping Views is the album that says, “Okay, this is Drake. This is the one that makes a statement.” Even if you do believe that he has a classic, the expectations for Views were high. And with the ups and downs of the past two years, the pressure to deliver on this particular project was through the roof. Drake’s peers have leveled up their stardom with albums that raised the bar, and as the guy that almost everyone considers as the best artist in Hip-Hop today, there’s no room for error. In the midst of it all, it’s fair to wonder if Drake actually knows that himself. His arrogance is one of his strengths, yet possibly his most glaring weakness. Does it help or hurt his fourth LP?
The nineteen-track album (twenty with “Hotline Bling” as a bonus) kicks off on a somber note with “Keep The Family Close.” A reflective record focused on another encounter with a woman gone wrong. Drake raps in disappointment, “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.” An unexpected start to the highly-anticipated LP, but the “winter to summer back to winter” concept explained in his exclusive interview with Zane Lowe helps put the entire album into perspective. Views’ first few tracks begin on a cold, harsh note where it seems as if he’s looking himself in the mirror instead of pointing the subject matter towards family issues. While we thought we’ve been getting his story during his seven year run, this is the first album that’s strictly about Drake and Drake only.
Views’ transitions between tracks are a step up from his previous albums, although the tracklist sequence make the seasonal conception a bit confusing. It’s far from disappointing, but it makes you wonder why “Feel No Ways” is fourth and “Redemption” is seventh. That’s the one knock with Views at the moment — where does the first go ’round of winter end and summer begins? Maybe I’m missing something. But, nonetheless, each record serves a purpose to make the album an enjoyable listen. Drake’s arrogance helps more than it hurts.
Now, with the cold that Views presents, it’s the joyfully warm records that bring the album to life. The Caribbean-inspired songs expose us more to Toronto’s culture and it’s probably Drake at his best. Vocally, it shows Drake’s growth and those records may easily takeover the summer — take your pick. “Controlla” and “One Dance” are already well-received, but “With You (Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)” and “Too Good (Feat. Rihanna)” have the potential to have the same if not bigger impact. If there isn’t much risk involved with Views, those four songs are the most riskiest, yet they all deliver in a major way. For that, Drake should be applauded.
The beauty of Views in regards to the tracks featuring Drake as a rapper, he still maintains to have that fiery spirit in which he probably knows the day one fans miss about him. “Pop Style” may not be the favorite for most, but songs like “Weston Road Flows” and “Views” displays that he’s still got it — let’s not ever doubt that. “9” is celebratory while “Hype”, “Still Here” and “Grammys (Feat. Future)” serve as playful, yet strong, anthem tracks to blast through the speakers this summer. Not every song has to be a lyrical homerun — just look at the music that’s on the radio today. The flows aren’t the sexiest or paradigm-shifting, but Drake’s songwriting ability is the key. Are you still with me? Okay, let’s keep going.
As said on the album’s third track “U With Me?”, Drake has made a career off reminiscing. That’s what almost makes him unstoppable — his vulnerability and the consistency of painting a picture that resonates with the masses. So even when you want to hate him, or even consider him stagnant at this point of his career, the formula wins. And looking back on this album, the heart of Views is the same ole recipe: the cold lows of failed relationships, the warming highs of his success, and a few single-worthy tracks in between to keep him on the Billboard charts. There’s no real surprise there. Now, while it’s the formula we’re all used to, the thing that completes the album as a whole is the upgraded tweaks around it. Drake’s vocal performance is much improved, the production (especially the sample choices) is immaculate, and the features are a highlight of the album.
There’s more growth in Views than what it’s being credited for.
Come on, the San Antonio Spurs have practically ran the same system for almost two decades and they dominate still. That’s sort of what OVO is these days. With this album, 40 is Gregg Popovich and Drake is Tony Parker — the floor general. 40 knows how to navigate the direction of the project and mold it into what it needs to be as a full body of work. All Drake has to do is bring it home — he doesn’t have to oversell it or go beyond his means — do just enough to get the job done and satisfy the mainstream audience. And for those same points of it being a good album, it’s also the reason why people aren’t in love with it. As usual, this could be another time in Drake’s career where his music requires time to grow on listeners. That’s what real artistry should be. Or it could be a thing where it’ll never be understood or accepted.
It’s definitely reasonable either way you put it.
Ultimately, Views can be seen as Drake’s victory lap, and arguably his best work to date. Twitter is going to hate me for saying it, but it’s worthy of debate. While others see stagnation, I think the question that should be pondered is “where will they go next?” Because while Drake and 40 accomplished what they needed to with this album, the next has to offer something completely different. Views has those moments at times, but it’s a mix of the old with the new. It’s his most complete and obviously most polarizing album because of it. Hence why it could be the victory lap — the end of an era/sound and the birth of something fresh.
I guess we’ll just have to wait until next time. But, for now, let’s face the facts: Views is a great album. Are there flaws? Sure. But, to backtrack to the Spurs reference, it’s the attention to detail that sets Views a part from his albums prior to this. It may not be the instant attention grabber, though that doesn’t diminish what it stands for and what it means for Drake’s career. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s another solid Drake album added to his discography. The OVO blueprint reigns supreme once again.