Drake dropped his most recent project on April 29th and the album generated lots of buzz both long before and immediately after the release date.
The album that was initially titled “Views From The 6” had hip hop rumor mills swirling all the way back in 2014 about what Drake would do next. After the famous Canadian came out with Nothing Was the Same in late 2013, many expected Views to be released in 2015.
Drake did come out with a lot of new music in 2015. Both surprise mixtape/album hybrid, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and Future collaboration, What a Time To Be Alive, were released last year as full length projects but neither project was Views, leading some to wonder about the exact release date of the album.
By New Year’s Day 2016, both hardcore Drake fans and casual hip hop fans alike were waiting on official word about Views and the silence from Drake’s camp was deafening. The hype had been building for nearly two years and all the while the wily Canadian had increased his status as hip hop’s top dog. Appearing on a plethora of songs as a featured artist, attending almost all of notable sporting events and just generally making waves on social media as the ever present face of the hip hop genre.
The hammer finally fell in April with the release of “One Dance” and “Popstyle” as the albums leading singles, aside from “Hotline Bling” which was released in the summer of 2015. Drake also released a trailer promoting the album and eventually revealed that the album would feature 20 songs his longest project to date. The hype grew.
With the hype surrounding the now long awaited Drake album at a fever pitch, the album finally dropped on April 29th. Millions flocked to Twitter, Reddit, Complex, and the like to give their two cents on the albums quality. It seemed as if everyone had something to say about Drake’s new album. When the dust finally settled, no one was quite sure what to make of it.
Some hailed the album as Drake’s greatest feat yet, a crowning jewel for the king of hip hop cementing his status as top dog. Others called it a disappointment and a failed attempt to return to the softer, gentler Drake seen on Take Care and Nothing Was the Same, a pendulum swing too far away from the in your face braggadocios Drake from the previous year.
I think that the album will likely sit somewhere in the middle of the two, a dangerous no man’s land of mediocrity. To prepare to review this album, I listened to Views again more than ready to find any mistake or error I could and call it Drake’s worst project to date. What I found was that the album lacked that many fatal flaws and while it may not be his best, most interesting or groundbreaking work, it is probably far away from being as bad as some would portray it to be.
The confusion is certainly there. Drake can’t seem to decide what type of an album he wants to make. He flirts between a heavy wintery soundscape of sorts that encompasses the beginning of the album and a billboard chart climbing pop album that appears at the end in a confusing meld of rap and pop that had always appeared in Drake’s music but never in such a disorienting fashion. Drake tries to rationalize this as the difference between summer and winter in his hometown of Toronto, the 6 we should be viewing from, but it feels more like Drake trying to have his cake and eat it too.
The unforgettable moments that made Drake famous are there. Drake starts by telling us “I turn the six upside down, it’s a nine now” basically at the entrance to the album throwing everything he has been telling us the past two years out of the window. The ridiculous beat drop in the first ten seconds of “Feel No Ways” makes you, as a listener, stop the track and replay it at least one time seemingly every time. From the strange DMX intro at the beginning of “U With Me?” to Drake continuing his love affair with the Cheesecake Factory in “Child’s Play” the moments that can make an album an all timer are certainly there. The problem arises when you vaguely realize there are just too many moments that are entirely forgettable.
The album runs 81 minutes long which isn’t absurd for a Drake album. Both Nothing Was the Same and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late cleared an hour, but the album as a whole just feels far too long. There are times that listening to the album feels like running a marathon on a treadmill, the same old thing over and over again. At times I just wanted to stop and say, “Where exactly am I on this thing?” only to look at my phone and realize I’m barely halfway through the album. Listening to an album shouldn’t be a chore, especially a Drake album. The listener should be too preoccupied worrying where their most recent significant other is at that exact moment rather than how much longer they have to listen to Drake sing the same hook for six straight songs.
The most annoying thing about the album is how firmly it sits between really good and pretty bad. The moments that got Drake a Grammy are certainly present but so are the ones that make you cringe and wonder if the recent ghost writing rumors are truer than a fan would like to believe.
Views is going to be a memorable album not only for the incredible commercial succes it has achieved (as I sit here not quite two months removed from the release date the album is already certified 2x platinum by the RIAA) but because in the world of social media the Views release became a worldwide event that dwarfed everything else for a couple of days. People that cared at the time will likely remember where they were refreshing twitter as they listened to the album for the first time getting opinions in real time from their friends and music personalities minutes after the album came out.
But the lingering question is one that Drake nearly asks himself on the fifth track of the album. “Views already a classic,” he proclaims in a flow similar to one you would find in the opening songs of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. And I think the resounding answer to the question that he poses and critics will punctuate is no. Views is a very good album, but Drake damages it by vacillating between the newfound brashness of his recent releases and the colder, softer side of Drake we saw early in his career.
Did Drake make good on his optimistic claim that he was going to sell a million copies in the first week? Yes. But did he make a classic album like he seems to believe and so many of his fans were expecting? No.
By: Grant Nicholson