The media narrative that’s been drawn in the build up to Drake’s new album, Views (Formally Views From The 6), has meant that it was either going to be deemed a classic or the polar opposite upon its release. Following the biggest year of his career so far in 2015, where he released the brilliant, If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late, successfully won a beef with Meek Mill, and released another successful mixtape with Future, What A Time To Be Alive, Drake has seemed unstoppable. It may be because of the over saturation of Drake fed to us within the last year, that there has been so much pressure on him to deliver a classic with his official follow-up album to Nothing Was The Same.
Truth be told, Views isn’t his Magnum Opus, nor is it as terrible as many media outlets are making out. Views is an album that sees Drake make the polar opposite to the Rap-heavy IYRTITL last year with an album that’s light on bars and filled with mid-tempo ballads. It sees him being comfortable with being the most meme-ready, Instagram caption worthy and trend setting artists of the moment by filling the album with pure Drake-isms, for better or for worse.
On Views, Drake is back at doing what he does best, which is moaning about his own life. The only problem is that although he’s always been incredibly self-centered, he’s never come off as lifeless and uninteresting as his persona can be on this album. In his music Drake is once again being let down by girls while simultaneously admitting how much of a controlling person he has been over said, girls. These themes are juxtaposed against his tough-guy braggadocios raps, and, just as on previous albums, it gives mixed results.
The difference between his previous albums and Views is that when the songs are bad on here, they’re actually forgettable. They’re wallpaper music. They simply exist. With a massive 82 minutes of an album to fill, this shouldn’t have the amount of filler that it does. There is only one song, ‘Hype’ (out of the TWENTY songs), that actually gives us the confident head sure Drake we saw rapping on IYRTITL; a song that could have come straight from that project. The production is strong, he gives us memorable hooks and most of all, he sounds confident. On other songs though, like ‘9′ and ‘Western Road Flows’, he throws out lines that are purely designed for meme attention. ‘You toying with it like a happy meal‘ being one that’s being thrown around a lot on social media already, as well as memes on his declaration of love for the Cheesecake Factory on ‘Childs Play’.
A bigger problem than the lyrics themselves are Drake’s delivery of them. The fundamental problem Drake suffers from is that the often fantastic production he’s given isn’t matched with good songwriting. ‘Pop Style’ was a dull single even when it had a decent collaboration from The Throne, yet now it’s just Drake and it sounds bland beyond belief. When Future turns up on ‘Grammys’ and when Pimp C opens ‘Faithful’, they both sound so much more animated than Drake himself. Not only that, but some of the ballads feel awkwardly placed and weirdly uneventful on the solid production such as ‘Controlla’ and ‘Redemption’. Colourful instrumentals are met with a very beige sounding Drake.
It’s a shame that there is so much filler because when Drake gets it right, he delivers some of his best work. The already chart-topping, ‘One Dance’ takes an infectious afrobeat rhythm and has him giving us a hook driven slice of creativity. ‘Feel No Ways’ has more memorable melodies than 3 other songs on the album combined, as it blends with some beautifully experimental production with Drake’s genuinely thrilling vocals. ‘With You’ with PARTYNEXTDOOR seems to be inspired by 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye with its simple yet effective melody and booming percussion over some thin synths. The production (handled mostly by 40) really can’t be praised enough with the atmospheric space that it creates. It’ll often take samples and make them sound completely downtrodden and murky. It’s almost as if Drake is trying to recreate Kanye’s ‘Chipmunk Soul’ for a new generation.
Perhaps the reason for all the negativity towards Drake’s new album is just because there’s so much to tear down from a man who is meant to be at his peak. Drake is an artist who’s getting way too comfortable in trying to make music purely for the moment in the hopes it will become a twitter meme. It’s frustrating when there are so many artists around him (Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Rihanna) who are really trying to make music that’ll live well in the future.
There’s definitely an argument to be had about how the lack of cohesion and the deliberate throwbacks to the style of old-Drake on this album are to fit in with the whole standpoint that Views is a look at Drake’s past and the city he came up in. Yet the placement of nearly year-old ‘Hotline Bling’ on the tracklist to give him a sales boost and the general meme-readiness of this album, points to Drake caring more about the numbers than anything else right now. And why shouldn’t he? The album is currently outselling Beyoncé’s, even if it won’t stand the test of time like hers will.