Album Review and Analysis
Allow me travel back in time for the next few sentences. I remember a teenage me lamenting the decline of Degrassi as I discovered Jimmy, Aubrey Graham, became a rapper. I honestly didn’t think it was serious, and I thought it was a stunt, but it turned out that he was serious. It was like a curse, the moment I discovered that Jimmy was Drake the rapper, I all of sudden saw him and heard him everywhere. To this day, I am still haunted by Drake’s music.
Now, let me be completely honest. I do like some of Drake’s catalog. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, was probably the only project I actually listened to all the way through without getting bored, annoyed, or having to skip tracks. I enjoyed the singles from Views and from More Life, even though the overall quality of both projects was tepid at best. This project, Scorpion is interesting to say the least, and with 2 parts and 25 songs, it’s an overwhelming experience. Drake is more of a singles artist that thrives off top charting bangers, so a 25-song album seems to be extra and unnecessary, since an artist of his magnitude should be able get by with way less. Unfortunately, he feels obligated to bombard us with as much tracks as possible to see what sticks, and to also reinforce his place in this industry and respond to his haters. Let's get into it…
Drake is a stereotypical Scorpio and on this album, he is moody, intense, brooding, and explicitly expresses his thoughts, feelings, and concerns. At the start of the album, Drake drags us into his inner world and drones on three introductory tracks about how he doesn’t get the respect he is due, and how he is superior due to his commercial success. This "A" side or hip-hop side of Scorpion doesn’t really start getting interesting until “Emotionless” where Drake is unsurprisingly very emotional. There’s nothing wrong with that, and his honesty and openness works well on this track and “God’s Plan.”
Drake, who has a reputation to uphold, also wants us to know that he is upset on “I’m Upset,” tough, and has “Mob Ties” and works relentlessly to please a fickle populace. And in “8 out of 10,” Drake declares that your wifey (your wifey, your wifey) will still press play, despite the criticism. Drake also wants us to know for the umpteenth time that he’s tired of everyone talking shit and making judgments without knowing his struggle as expressed in “Can’t Take A Joke.” The hip-hop side continues underwhelmingly on with the typical themes about not being respected in the industry or being monitored by his enemies who want to see him fail, and a feature from Jay-Z, where Jay Z ponders why XXXTentacion was killed while Zimmerman’s alive. Oh, how profound. By the end of side "A," I was pretty disappointed, as I was hoping Drake would bring the heat. So far, I was not reaching for water to take the edge off the heat, I was reaching for the skip button on my iPhone.
Side “B” is the PBR&B side and starts of with the song "Peak." For this track, think Frank Ocean, but with the monotonous, vocals of a person just shocked by an E-meter during an auditing session with the church of Scientology. Sound effects are even provided for the duration of the song. "Summer Games" and "Jaded" feature a lovelorn Drake examining his failed relationships, using these experiences as the reasons why he’s hesitant to establish trust in relationships when he’s been hurt before. The album eventually picks up in energy thanks to Big Freedia, Queen Diva, and a sped up sample of a few lines from Ms Lauryn Hill’s, "Ex Factor." This song’s bounce beat, especially the breakdown, is infectious, with quite a few memorable quotables.
However, the energy catapults downward again and crashes into the pavement with "Ratchet Happy Birthday" (which sounded more like the "Hustle," than a ratchet birthday song, a la Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake”), "That’s How You Feel," "Blue Tint," and "Don’t Matter To Me," a creepy, posthumous duet with Michael Jackson. Bounce music saves Drake once again, with "In My Feelings," which has since sparked a social media dance challenge. Unfortunately, after that, the fun is over. We’re alone again with Drake’s ramblings.
What I liked. The production has a long roster, but the mainstays were 40, No ID, and Boi1da. They gave a smooth, cohesive finish to quite a few of the songs, notably "Emotionless and "God’s Plan."" The only other songs I liked on this album besides the two I previously mentioned are "Mob Ties," "Nice For What," "Finesse," "In My Feelings," and "After Dark." The producers saved Drake’s trite and selfish emotionalism with classic and modern hip-hop beats.
What I didn't like. The album is way too long. Drake used several people to produce this album, and it feels like Drake wasted these producers’ time because majority of the songs don’t stick with Drake’s delivery and lyrics. Many of the songs are forgettable, drab, dry, and a repeat of the one before it. If you’re not going to give your all on 25 songs, give your all on 12 or 15. Also, can Drake get some new subject matter, or at least present it in a new way? ‘The woman who he led on finds someone new or finesses him and he’s upset.’ ‘They don’t respect his place in the rap game,’ even though he’s the most commercially successful rapper of the 2010s. Same shit, same Drake, different year.
Mediocre. I think that there are some good moments on this project, however, most of the album is comprised of lullabies for fans of Drake’s old music. I will enjoy a good Drake bop or two from time to time, but will I invest my time into a two part album where most of the songs cannot stand on their own or stand the test of time? No.
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