Step aside people, singin’-ass Drake has entered the building again. The courted Canadian crooner and semi-qualified rapper also known as Aubrey Drake Graham signed a deal with the devil, oops, I mean a deal with Apple Music and iTunes, so if you want to listen to his fourth solo LP, Views (formerly Views From The 6) anytime this week, you’ll have to either pirate it, buy a copy or purchase a subscription-to-stream from that mega tech company, and the truth is if you want mainly hip-hop out of it, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not worth the money. Views was dropped online so restrictively and snobbishly Thursday night, April 28, by labels OVO Sound, Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records. It was highly anticipated all last year due in large part to and quenched as much as possible by Drizzy’s two 2015 releases, the If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape and the What A Time To Be Alive mixtape with Future. Sadly for many, Views further confirms the fact that Drake is just a revenue-driven pop act with money-based ulterior motives behind why he raps so limitedly and sparsely.
At any given moment, Drake uses one of three main tactics here – a: try to be a big shot, b: complain about his girlfriends or c: croon away at some love tunes. Very typical. Keeping to the script, Drake trills like a bird about ties that have worn thin over dramatic drum and concert music in “Keep The Family Close,” and wait ’til you get a load of the f*ck-up he commits in “9.” In the opening line he says in such a way that his income is more important than keeping true to rap: “Mama hit the phone and said, ‘rap’s no good.’ Better than her telling me the check’s no good.” The rest of that track contains just more lyrics about being hearty with pride and other contrived beliefs. Drake stresses out about a girl again in raps that are not strong or creative enough in “U With Me?” and in “Hype” and elsewhere, he is jaded something terrible, throwing shade about this and that, every which way, on and on and on. For reasons, his problems revolving around chicks and bad relationships come back again and again and again for him, whether it’s because he lets women control him (“Controlla”) or because he serves and caters to childish girls (“Child’s Play”). It’s completely intentional that Drake goes for pathos over logos, the visceral over intellect. He does this so he can get as popular as he can and as many followers as possible so his money can just grow and grow and grow and grow. He cares very little for intelligence overall.
Musically, most of Views is laidback, as most people will probably tell you. Pounding, danceable rhythms like those in the soulful northerly dedicated “Weston Road Flows” are exceptions, and even in some of the sprightlier cuts (e.g. “One Dance”), the lyrics and vocal silkiness can make them feel very loose and completely let-go, all for the goal of mainstream appeal. Drake tries to give lessons, and even says that it’s his aim in “Weston,” but ends up mixing thoughts, obscuring the point, or coming across as too immature and unstable. Because we know how easily he will crossover for the dough at this point, his machismo is lame and unconvincing, and there’s no way he can pull off sounding tough because everyone knows he sold out some time ago. Drake does have some skill and some talent, but it’s mostly in his singing. When we talk about his rapping and more specifically his technique, mechanics and content, he is mono-angular, a one-note Charlie. He’ll bust out a good line or two every now and then, but there is much much more he could’ve done with his 16s here, from song one to song twenty.
Drake lives like a king and speaks to millions of people and what does he do? He complains about the sh*tty girls he can’t have and raps some nerdy form of braggadocio that is almost impossible to appreciate. If girls are terrorists, Drake willingly and welcomingly negotiates with them, as he straight up sounds like a weak, pathetic, self-centered pretty boy with far more money and privileges than he’s rightfully earned. He is surrounded by a bundle of his young, artsy, new-age urban recording artist-friends as guests. PartyNextDoor, the late Pimp C, dvsn, Wizkid, Kyla, Future and Rihanna are decent company, and producers Boi-1da, Nineteen85, Maneesh as well as Drake’s right-hand, in-studio boyfriend Noah “40” Shebib have put together something special and involved sonically, but altogether they cannot pull Drake out of the mental maelstrom he’s found himself in here. Views was made so that it would have just enough rap to not only fit in the pop and r&b categories but also the hip-hop category too. More exposure, more advertising, more money. Don’t be fooled. Anyway, Views is ok at best if you’d like to think of it as anything other than hip-hop, but to rap-lovers, it’s a huge drag. Its target audience includes teenage girls, the boys who pursue them and the like, and while it does provide some views, they’re not great ones at all.