I’ve never liked Drake. I’ve always thought that he’s a rapper with painfully basic lyrics and an annoying voice/flow who raps over lame pop rap beats. It’s been quite a while since I listened to Thank Me Later or Take Care, so I need to re-listen to them soon in order to get my opinions of them straight. Going just from my memory, though, I thought that they were both bad albums. Take Care winning the Grammy for best rap album over Life Is Good and undun really pissed me off (even though it shouldn’t have, given that Grammy’s are pointless, especially in the world of hip hop). Regardless, that left a bad taste in my mouth. What made me even more bitter was “Started From the Bottom.” In my opinion, that song did not deserve to blow up and be the center of memes, vines, etc. I think that it’s a pretty bad song, not even good by Drake’s standards. Considering everything I just mentioned, what I’m going to say next will come as a surprise…..I actually had the desire to listen to this album. Given my past experience with Drake, you would think that I would be avoiding this album like the plague, but something about it drew me towards it. Part of the reason that I was tempted to listen to it has to do with the hype that it was receiving upon its release. A lot of people have been calling it Drake’s best album. Another reason, which, I admit, is quite stupid, is that I like the album cover, the one with what I assume to be baby Drake and the one with adult Drake. I love dominantly blue album covers, so as stupid as it sounds, that affected my decision to download this album. Anyway, I downloaded it and I listened to it a few times and (here comes my most shocking statement yet) I’m glad that I did. I completely agree that this is Drake’s best album. In fact, by the standards that he’s set in my mind, this album is relatively great.
The first thing I noticed about this album is that it features better production than Drake’s other albums. His other two albums were full of beats that were clearly designed to appeal to the pop audience. This time, however, while I’m sure that this album still has mainstream appeal, it doesn’t seem like he’s trying very hard to achieve mainstream appeal. It sounds more like he’s trying to make the album that he wants to make. At this point, he already has more money than most artists can even dream of, so it seems that he decided to not let album sales get in the way of his artistic integrity. It’s for that reason that this album gives me some new found respect for Drake. His own will and artistic integrity seemingly taking precedent over mainstream appeal and album sales is quite respectable given how commercially-minded the music industry has grown to be. These beats were produced by 40, Boi-1da, Jake One, Mike Zombie, Detail, DJ Dahi, Chilly Gonzales, Nineteen85, Majid Jordan, Hudson Mohawke, Allen Ritter, Vinylz, and Sampha. Out of that list, the only one that I’m familiar with is Jake One, whom I’m sort of surprised agreed to produce for a Drake album. Off the top of my head, I don’t know any production work by the rest of those producers. I’ve said many times that a list of unknown producers is rarely a good thing, but I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of exceptions to that generalization. This album is definitely one of them. I’ve never heard of most of those producers, but I quite like the overall production on this album. These beats are very impressive by pop rap standards. They’re smooth and they contain a lot of cool sample work (if those are samples, I can’t always tell which are and which aren’t). As with almost every pop rap album, the production on this album isn’t as consistent as I would like it to be. Overall, however, I definitely like these beats. They’re very easy to listen to and enjoy. My taste in music has grown considerably since I last listened to Take Care and, given how a lot of hip hop heads loved the production on that album, I feel like I should give it another try. Back then, I probably wouldn’t have like these beats, either, but I do now. Production-wise, this album should appeal to both open-minded hip hop heads and pop rap fans.
I didn’t used to like the production that Drake rapped over, but it was really Drake himself that I hated. I thought that he wasreally annoying. His lyrics sucked, he had an annoying voice, his flow was weak, and his singing was atrocious. When I listen to this album, though, he didn’t seem bad at all. I’m not sure if Drake has improved his rapping/singing or if my taste has just changed, but I actually kind of like Drake’s performance on this album. Actually, I am pretty sure that his rapping has improved. On the tracks that he raps on, his lyrics are less annoying and his flow sounds more confident and natural. On a bunch of the songs, I actually feel what he’s saying. That’s weird to me because I used to think that he was a corny, thug-wannabe who I could never relate to on any level. On this album, however, it seems like he paid a little bit more attention to substance. He also played played to his strengths, such as conveying actual thoughts and opinions in a reasonably down-to-earth manner. There’s still a little bit of that tough guy, thug stuff, but for the most part, this album is void of that, which is a good thing. Lyrically, he’s still pretty basic, but the decrease in obnoxiousness bumps him up a lot in my book. As far as singing goes, he still doesn’t impress me that much, but similarly to the rapping, he doesn’t annoy me as much as I expected him to. I prefer his rapping over singing, so it’s unfortunate that he sings so much on this album, but his singing isn’t bad. It’s just relatively uninteresting. I wouldn’t recommend this album for the rapping or the singing, but they’re both significantly improved. I hope that Drake will continue to get better and better over time.
As I hinted at a couple of times in the last two paragraphs, this album is rather inconsistent. In fact, that’s the biggest problem I have with it. These beats are good and Drake’s rapping is satisfactory, but it’s just not that consistent of an album. I like a lot of the songs, such as “Tuscan Leather,” “Furthest Thing,” “Wu-Tang Forever,” “From Time,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” “Too Much,” and “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2.” I only like that last track because of its second part, which makes up for Jay-Z awkwardly stumbling through his verse on the first part. The most notable song on the album, in my opinion, is “Tuscan Leather,” which has already established itself as my favorite Drake song. It’s a very long intro and it features three great beats and some of the best rapping of Drake’s career. Unfortunately, none of the other songs ever reach the peak of the intro, but there are enough good ones to make this album an enjoyable listen. It’s just unfortunate that there are so many songs that are just okay. There’s only one bad song, “Started From the Bottom,” but the percentage of the album that’s composed of legitimately good songs (just over 50%) isn’t enough to warrant a 3.5/5 rating. Regardless, it’s better and more consistent than most pop rap albums, so if you’re looking for some clearly mainstream hip hop that’s better than the usual stuff, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this album to you.
Sure, this album has its flaws, but I like a lot of its components, which is something I never thought I’d say about a Drake album. I’m pleasantly surprised and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I “like” this album, I would say that I get a surprising amount of enjoyment out of it. I would also say that it makes me want to re-visit his first two albums and that I’ll be anticipating his next album. With this album, Drake has finally proved to me that he can make good music and I can only hope that he’ll improve even further in the future. Maybe he’ll make a great album next time, instead of decent. I have my fingers crossed.
The thoughts of this article resonates the authors thoughts, not a general consensus of the website (unless otherwise stated).