Drake has really disappointed me. That’s not to say that I haven’t liked any recent Drake songs. But it’s clear to me now that the hype has finally caught up with him. Views [from the 6] has been heavily promoted for about two years. Truthfully, I anticipated the release of this album more than the next Kanye project (which turned into the wonderfully spastic The Life of Pablo). That’s never happened before, just so you know. Coming off of 2015’s hard-hitting If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, I considered Drake to be virtually untouchable. I love that album. There is so much swagger on that record; there’s almost too much. But the way he pulled it off was legendary. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late features spacey, energetic production that brought the beast out of Drizzy. Ignorant Drake is one of my favorite rappers of all-time. However, whiny, repetitive Drake is easily one of my least favorite. I’ve been listening to the 6 God since I was a Junior in high school. It’s safe to say I know (and love) the man’s discography. With that being said, Views is painfully underwhelming.
I’m not quite sure what’s gotten into Drake. Normally, his motives and execution are so calculated that there is hardly any room for error. Both If You’re Reading This and Nothing Was the Same integrated polished bangers and pillowy ballads that resulted in well-balanced, cohesive projects. “Jungle” and “Now & Forever” sound like they should be on a completely different album than “10 Bands” and “Know Yourself”; yet that record as a whole showcased Drizzy’s versatility tremendously. On Views though, Drake’s mailed-in verses extinguish the flame 40 and the other countless producers initially sparked. The punchlines on this album are atrocious. “You toying with me like a Happy Meal“?? Bro, what is that? Never would I have previously imagined this level of careless lyrical creativity coming from Drake. I have praised his lyricism in the past. But now, I regret ever considering him a top emcee, as drastic as that sounds. That’s how pathetic these bars are.
I just can’t help but feel horrible for the production team. The soundscapes on Views are borderline heavenly. The album’s concept of transitioning between Toronto’s season-to-season changes can be heard, but hardly stands out. The chilling synths and occasional howling of the wind in the first third of the album build a frame for Drake to once again unveil that cold shoulder of his to all his past flings. He practically blames these women for his lack of sleep and constant substance abuse. I don’t know about the rest of Drizzy’s fan base, but I for one am sick of hearing the same old sob stories. I fully understand that Drake “can’t write fiction”. However, the honest-to-God truth doesn’t have to be so monotonous. We get that Drake has commitment issues. We get that he wants to flex on these girls for not being real or whatever. Even though, from the sounds of it, “being real” in Drake’s eyes means a girl should hopelessly fall for him and wait by the phone to meet his every demand. That’s bullshit. It’s also unbearably boring.
This album was supposed to be his pièce de résistance. That’s how he hyped it up to be. It is a fact that expectations can no longer be exceeded in this day and age. Despite that, it honestly shouldn’t be too much to ask for Drake to give it his all on a project he seemed so excited about. The more I listen to Views, the more I want to change the artist’s name in my library to Noah “40” Shebib. This feels more like his child than anything. Drake sounds like a mere house guest in a luxury pad even he can’t afford. The few tracks Aubrey actually delivers on such as “Weston Road Flows,” “Hype,” and the title track get lost in the unwarranted 20-song track list. Too many songs on this album emit the exact same vibe. Views already felt redundant halfway through. And with ten more songs following, you’d expect that to change.
Nope. Not even close. Once the stellar “Still Here” closes, the album takes a sharp turn into the summertime aesthetic (I assume). But what was meant to be a conceptual achievement quickly evolved into an awkward mixture of Dancehall and infinite struggle bars. “Chaining Tatum,” “Last night I got high as your expectations,” “I get green like Earth Day“. I don’t understand how Drake can completely rip into a mediocre rapper like Tyga on one album, then on his next release replicate those very same lyrical deficiencies. Did I just compare the hottest rapper in the game to possibly the lamest one? I sure did. Drake is clearly a better artist and a better rapper than he is showing here on Views. But until he drops something to resurrect his elite lyrical status, I can no longer include him in that Top 5 he humorously mentions in the Future-assisted “Grammys”. I thoroughly enjoy that song, though. Regardless of Future’s tiresome looped hook, his wavy bars make up for it.
On the topic of featured artists on this project, some fared well while others felt terribly out-of-place. dvsn sound so incredible on “Faithful”. Daniel Daley’s silky smooth falsetto places listeners in a Cloud Nine state. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s feature carries “With You” and gives it its own unique sound to spice up the album a bit. He can also be heard crooning in the background of “U with Me?”. PND is always a welcomed voice in my headphones. His talents are shockingly undervalued. Every time these two connect, it’s as if they’re doing magic. Majid Al Maskati of Majid Jordan appears uncredited on “Summer’s Over Interlude” and kills it. Give the man some shine, Drizzy! Drake adds absolutely nothing to the interlude yet he refused to let people know who is responsible for making it so buttery. The trend of Drake’s selfishness pollutes this entire record. He excluded Popcaan from “Controlla”. That was something I thought I would be more upset about, but I just love that song so much I ultimately didn’t mind. Drake also pulled Kanye West and JAY Z from the previously released “Pop Style”. What a horrible decision. The only thing keeping that song from tanking lyrically was Kanye’s terrific feature verse. I’m not sure what Drake was thinking when he replaced it with a solo version that doubles as a snooze button.
The Rihanna collaboration is a huge letdown as well. Just like on the title track of Take Care, “Too Good” is this album’s biggest misfit. With two artists as accomplished and universally adored as Drake and Rihanna, any time they work together it should be a hit. They’re too skilled and work too well together for their collaborations to flop. “Too Good” is wack, period. There’s no energy to the song and, to make matters worse, Rihanna is limited to simply following Drake’s uninspired script. Her character has no say in how the story plays out and is left incapable of making any kind of positive impact. Drake claims that “there is no album without Rihanna” in his recent Zane Lowe interview, but there is yet to be a truly great Rihanna feature on any of his albums. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
Don’t take Drake’s word for it. Views is not a classic; it is undoubtedly his worst. This album is like wearing a shirt to go swimming — not only are half of these tracks pointless additions to a miserably gaudy catalog, but the shortage of lyrical creativity is fully transparent. There is no one here to blame other than Drake. However catchy “One Dance,” “Controlla,” and “Hotline Bling” are there is not enough memorable material on Views to keep it from sinking into the depths of Drake’s discography. Views makes me miss Nothing Was the Same. I appreciate that album so much more now that I see which path Drake has chosen to follow. Drizzy is a full-fledged Pop star from here on out. Sure, Views might break first-week sales records but a record like that is meant to be broken. Drake jeopardized his reputation by releasing a swag-rap album last year. At the time, he needed to reinvent his technique to rid himself of his “bitch-made” status among the Hip-hop community. Unfortunately, though, this album presents recycled flows and themes. There is no risk in making an album full of styles already proven to please millions of fans. Fans don’t know what they want until it’s given to them. Taking calculated risks is what used to separate Drake from the pack. Currently it seems like he is too timid to try new things. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should be an artist’s antithesis. Instead, it is what fuels this album. That can only mean one thing: better luck next time, dude.