Canadian rapper Drake released his fourth album over the weekend, featuring a variety of artists from across musical genres. This is the most alternative out of all the material he has released in the past. Originally the album was titled Views From The 6, referring to the hometown of the star in Toronto, Canada however it was cut down to just Views when it was finally debuted. A few days before the album dropped, the cover artwork was revealed by the rapper on his twitter page: the lone rapper seated at the top of CN Tower of his hometown.
This album certainly does not seem rushed by the artist: with a total of 20 tracks, there appears to have been a lot of thought put into the project. Despite a lot of tracks making it to the album, the only ones released as standalone singles were ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘One Dance’, ‘Pop Style’ appearing sans ‘The Throne’. ‘Controlla’ features dance hall ‘unruly boss’ Popcaan, and is one of the standout tracks on the album that was leaked prior to the album dropping. It seems that recently Drake has wanted to adopt a dancehall sound and work with Caribbean artists, meaning even without an accompanying music video or single status, the track has received a lot of attention. ‘Hotline Bling’ appears as a bonus track; it came out last year, yet it remained in the charts for months. It was definitely one of Drake’s greatest successes – from its quirky video that attracted so many parodies to its catchy chorus. This track managed to sell 41,000 copies in the first week and peaked at number one on the UK singles chart.
Opener ‘Keep the Family Close’ however is certainly is not the best track on the album. It begins with Drake’s whiny singing voice that he often delivers. He is singing about all of his ‘list of friends be friends that he doesn’t not have anymore’. This track seems to be a reflection of how things have changed in his life and let downs he has faced from someone, but it just comes across as quite boring. Despite him saying he is forgiving, all one hears is Drake’s monotone voice. Follower ‘U With Me?’ starts with a sample of 90s rapper DMX’s ‘What These Bitches Want’ and ‘How’s It Going Down’, who seems to be one of the many legends that Drake has taken influence from. As with 2013’s ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ though, this track consists mainly of Drake singing about a girl coming over ‘on a late night’. Whoever the woman in Drake’s life is, she is giving him a lot of inspiration to write these slow and unnecessary heartbreak songs.
‘Hype’ is significant as it has direct reference to ‘Riri’ being right next to him. This comes after Drake called Rihanna “the greatest woman I’ve ever known in my life” after her Anti Tour performance in Toronto. He raps mainly on this track thankfully, and for the first time on the record he gains some momentum on this track, and continues to drop some punchlines in response to haters, saying his ‘enemies want to be friends with [his] other enemies’. This paranoia dates back to his last mixtape (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late) which ended up being one of the year’s most popular albums. ‘Weston Road Flows’ is definitely a tune that grows on you. It seems that the rapper has taken a lot of influence from 90s RnB singer Mary J Blige as he sampled her song ‘Mary’s Joint’ throughout the track. Her voice is such a huge part of the likeability of the song that it might as well feature her in the credits. Drake mentions retiring at the age of 35 which is pretty soon considering he is only 29.
Whenever Drake and Partynextdoor team up they make some awesome RnB slow-jams like their hit ‘Recognize’, and more recent track ‘Come And See Me’ from PND. ‘With You’ sounds like it will be another summer success, particularly if they released a music video together. ‘Still Here’ is another of the hottest tracks on the album, boasting a Drake flow we are most familiar with at this point. It’s an unashamed hip-hop track, where the rapper brags about his financial success and longevity in the game. ‘One Dance’ meanwhile features Nigerian superstar Wizkid and funky house vocalist Kyla. Drake also samples Crazy Cousinz’ hit ‘Would You Mind’ to create an updated replica. The Afrobeat addition from Wizkid has made it one of the best tracks on the album. Since its release it has reached no. 3 on the charts.
‘Too Good’ is certainly a standout track on the album for many reasons: firstly, because it is him and Bajan singer Rihanna’s second collab this year already. It is about a supposed relationship that is failing to work with them being long distance – a similar theme to their song that is on Rihanna’s album. This track also stands out because Drake seems to surprisingly embrace a Caribbean accent at one point and talk patois despite him being Canadian. This song also samples Popcaan’s ‘Love Yuh Bad’, which is where Drake has taken influence with the dancehall flow.
The penultimate song on the album ‘Views’ is an emotional one, as it opens with an incredible sample from the late icon Whitney Houston. Hearing her voice is enough to create a sombre moment, fitting as he gets really personal on this track by rapping ‘thoughts too deep to go work ‘em out with a therapist’. He discusses his mother’s saddest days and this song comes across as a plea to be kind, faithful and loyal to him forever and ever, amen. It mimics the gospel anthem sound that Kanye West brought earlier this year on The Life Of Pablo. This song is interesting as Drake declares he “still has something left to prove”, which may be why his supposed retirement is six years in the future, rather than tomorrow…
This album overall strikes as one from Drake where the songs that are good are real hits, then there are others that would definitely be described as skip tracks such as the opening track ‘Keep The Family Close’ which is dreary. Many of Drake’s previous albums were successful in that you could listen and enjoy almost every track. The album sale records however tell a different story as he managed to sell over 600,000 copies on iTunes in one day so it looks like he has definitely stolen the shine this month from Beyoncé. However, this could be related to the fact she did not sell Lemonade on its release day. Therefore, whatever critiques say, in the famous words of Jay Z ‘numbers don’t lie check the scoreboard’. Drake is set to have a prosperous year.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.