THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE Flashes of greatness nearly snuffed out by its excesses.
Not to feed Drake’s already-healthy sense of paranoia, but his “Views” (Young Money/Cash Money) album suffers because of its high-profile arrival following Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” surprise and Prince’s shocking death.
Drake wants to be considered an equal in that one-named superstar company. He dubs himself “The most successful rapper 35 and under” in “Weston Road Flows,” where he rolls out boasts and score-settling over a sample from Mary J. Blige’s “Mary’s Joint.” But there’s always a part of him that isn’t sure, and that hesitance clouds much of his work, especially over these 20 tracks and 82 minutes.
Drake is most definitely sure-footed when it comes to his pop side. “Too Good,” his latest duet with Rihanna, is a sweet, Caribbean-tinged dance anthem dedicated to getting out of the friend zone with your crush. “I’m way too good to you,” Drizzy and RiRi coo at each other in a chorus destined to be booming at us from radios all summer long. “You take my love for granted. I just don’t understand it.”
“Controlla” is another tropical, surefire hit, as Drake croons his way through a love pledge over a laid-back, but irresistible groove similar to his current single “One Dance.”
“With You,” which features a star turn for newcomer PartyNextDoor, is another winner, with the warmth of PartyNextDoor’s vocals matching the icy, glitchy dance beat nicely.
Of course, there are two sides to Drake. He’s a lover and a (verbal) fighter. And while there aren’t any outright jabs thrown at his enemies list — with rapper Meek Mill at the top — he does throw out some blanket statements in “Hype” like “My enemies wanna be friends with my other enemies.” (The most memorable line from “Hype,” though, is “Don’t you see RiRi right next to me?” as if Rihanna-proximity should stop beefs from starting.) On “Grammys,” another slap-back at his critics, Future comes out as the way bigger player by not caring what other people think.
Drake is certainly successful and “Views” will continue that, but he has a way to go before that success becomes respect.