Album Review: ‘VIEWS’ by Drake

3b385c122fde43a8f39b41ba31280377.1000x1000x1

It’s been a defining year for Drake’s career, with the release of three bodies of work in such a short span of time he’s proven to be a very prolific artist and his status has definitely seen a rise.

Just this past winter Drake scored the biggest hit of his career with the tropical beat of “Hotline Bling” (which is his highest peaking song since his 2009 debut single “Best I Ever Had”) and he currently has the #1 album on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with the largest debut sales for him thus far.

The album in question is VIEWS (originally titled Views From the 6), the highly anticipated record that he’s been talking about for a long time, an hommage to his hometown Toronto. An album which represents everything Drake stands for both as a rapper and an artist.

The 20 tracks on the album are a mix of the introspective side of him and the newfound “street” persona he had the chance to display thanks to his extensive collaboration with Future on the What a Time to Be Alive joint venture. VIEWS has everything it takes to be the perfect Drake album: the production is smooth and eclectic, the distinctive flow and the melodic sections are fully displayed on every track and there are also the big Pop moments that will ensure continued exposure at radio (not that it was really needed as he’s a radio staple). It is, however, also a long album, maybe too long. And that’s where it starts to pale in comparison to his previous work.

The production is often what keeps the interest going with clever samples, such as the two DMX hommages (lyrical and musical) on “U With Me?,” the early 90s throwback on “Weston Road Flows” thanks to Mary J. Blige’s “Mary’s Joint” or a sped up loop of Brandy’s “I Dedicate (Part III)” on the sparse “Fire & Desire.” The Winans introduce the album finale, the title-track, with the soulful “The Question Is” reminiscent of how the 90s R&B albums often ended with a Gospel track.

Reflection opens the album with the epic “Keep the Family Close,” a stream of consciousness of sorts about loyalty and the feeling of loneliness after fame. It’s always great to hear a man wear his heart on his sleeve and Drake does that with class and sense, but it’s redundant when it becomes the central theme of such a long album.

The reality is that at this point in his career Drake should’ve tried to break new ground both lyrically and sonically. Where VIEWS has an advantage over his past albums is the inclusion of more crossover tracks, where the previous records usually had just one designated song doing the work. Here the current single “One Dance,” which is poised to be an even bigger hit than “Bling,” could easily be followed up with the Caribeean-tinged “Controlla” and the umpteenth Rihanna collaboration “Too Good,” where she surprisingly sounds more decent than on her own album.

VIEWS will definitely be a grower for many and that’s not a bad quality. Albums that require time to get into are often the ones people end up cherishing the most because they remain fresh to the ear.

Sitting atop the CN Tower of Toronto for the artwork is probably a metaphor of the pride Drake feels when he sees where his career is going, and it’s clearly going in the right direction, but the horizon is much wider than what he’s explored thus far. Perhaps he’ll start looking beyond the limits he’s imposed for himself, exploiting his confirmed power as a Pop star rapper.

 

Grade:
80/97

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: