In 2010, Drake released his much talked about debut album, Thank Me Later. The album chronicled the impending rise of an artist weighing the pros and caveats that comes with new-found fortune and fame. With every subsequent release, we have been on that journey with Drake as he helped to create his own aesthetic blurring the lines between both rap and r&b music. It’s the personal touch that has kept fans in tune so long and anticipating every release.
Expectations are a tricky thing. This is both in part because the build up for Views was so huge and that fan assumptions that this album was going to be more rap based. Chalk this up to the killing blow of 2015’s “Back to Back”. The new album opens with “Keep the Family Close,” an atmospheric and dramatic track produced by Canadian producer Maneesh where Drake sings out his frustrations concerning people he may have lost throughout his journey. It’s an honest way to start off what maybe the artist’s most important to date.
Some of the album returns to the So Far Gone formula that finds track working with his right hand man, Noah “40” Shebib in some of it’s best tracks. “Child’s Play” and the Mary J. Blige sampled “Weston Road Flows” showcases the best of both worlds. Drake’s vocals rides the beat switch in “Child’s Play” well and “Weston Road Flows” is a walk down memory lane regarding his humble beginnings within his Toronto hometown. “Feel No Ways” is also another delightful track that will be radio gold produced by OVO Sound’s very own Jordan Ullman of Majid Jordan and Kanye West. If there’s one thing about Views, it’s that there’s an overall showcase of OVO talent – for the most part, not to the album’s detriment.
“Hype” channels the recent energy of 2015’s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late as the ultimate celebratory song toasting his successes. One of the most enduring tracks is “Redemption,” where Drake wonders whether his drive for success will lead itself to a proper relationship – “Relationships slowin’ me down, they slow down the vision /Guess I’m not in a position to deal with commitment” and conjuring memories of old flames and what could have been. These are the type of introspective tracks that further the vision of what Views could have embodied.
It was stated that Views would follow along with the seasons on Toronto and I wish that narrative was played up a bit more. There are too many songs on the album to find that perfect listening flow. This is mentioned because of the particular sequencing of both dancehall-infused tracks, “Controlla” and “One Dance.” Both songs see Drake tackle another genre with good standing, but may have served each other better if they did not follow each other. “With You” feels more like a PartyNextDoor track featuring Drake. Instead of going along on a journey, it feels like you are jumping around with no structure at points.
In retrospect, the album is more indicative of the title itself. Drake has now climbed the mountain to find himself as one of the top musicians throughout any genre. The closing track is a victory lap on how far Drake has come from his first mixtape in 2006, Room From Improvement. Where do we go from here? With the crown may come a bit of complacency and comfort. There’s no doubt that Drake has helped craft a particular song that only he can pull off, but with that, all you are left with is another Drake-esque album that is a good listen overall, but not the classic album that you point to in his catalog. It’s a statement that of his dominance, but not yet a concise statement of his legacy. There is cause for celebration and it’s really hard to say that there isn’t personal growth within this album. Views is a closer look at the home that Drake has come from, but it leaves you hoping that you weren’t just passing through.
Rap / R&B |OVO Sound