Drake has had one of the greatest runs at the top in hip hop history. He’s worked with just about everyone we consider stars in the game, and currently holds the record for most top 10 singles on the billboard charts with 25 and counting. With all that being said, it feels like he’s still being doubted… Maybe it’s the ghostwriting claims or the fact that he plays crooner whenever he gets the chance to, peeving the so-called ‘real mc’s’ of the world. Whatever the case may be, I can hear this annoyance in the 6 God’s voice when talks of who’s on the throne gets brought up, resulting in lyrical content that has become a little darker and heinous. With “Scorpion,” I look for Drake to give us some of his most ferocious bars to-date, putting to bed any talks about him being overrated.
HONORABLE MENTION. I’M UPSET
I’ll keep it 100% with you: Initially, I thought this song was basura. There was no indication that Drake put any level of effort into it, and quite honestly, I thought it was one of his worst singles to date. Then I started to look at it from a different perspective… I decided to look at it as one of those competitive tracks in which Drake makes it a mission to prove he’s boss dawg in the streets, which ultimately results in lyrical fervor that seems more heinous than intricate. No, there isn’t any silky smooth melodies or flashy bars from him, just tough ass words revolving around bounties on his head, explicit texts from his ex, and his deteriorating heart. Don’t enjoy the track for its musicality, enjoy it for its gangsta! Drake’s lucky that we give his music several different listens, because if Lil Xan made this s**t, there was no way I was giving it a second listen.
HONORABLE MENTION. MARCH 14 “March 14” is as deep as it gets. On it, Drake finally gets a chance to reveal to the world that he has a child and how the whole situation caught him off guardto begin with (In a nutshell). The song starts off a bit raw — almost similarly to his random freestyle tracks like “9am In Dallas” in which he lets loose about a variety of topics — but turns into this solemn/heartwarming tune that has some random singer giving us body blows of passion for the rest of the time. In my opinion, the track is a tear jerker, tugging at your heart with both its content and emotional sound. By the end of it, you’re going to think Pusha is an asshole for leaking Drake’s personal business to the masses on “Story of Adidon.”
5. NICE FOR WHAT
No one on this planet can convince me otherwise that this song was made in 2010. (Seriously, who says “Pipe It Up” anymore?)
The energy attached to “Nice For What” is impeccable. Powered by production from Murda Beatz, Drake goes ham, sounding like a guy who just got his first rap advance and is ready to spend it all in the club. In my opinion, lyrically, there’s nothing special about the verses that the 6 God drops, as he opts to play hype man rather than MC.
Lauryn Hill’s vocals in the background takes this song to another level. Matter of fact, I get the chills when I hear her sing. It’s weird, because she gives off this posthumous feel on this song. (Lauryn is alive and well, folks. N***as just seen her in concert last year!)
If I’m not getting grinded on while this song is playing, I can’t stand its existence.
“Emotionless” is the most soulful rap song on this album, and because of that, I think listeners will be able to connect with it quite a bit. It is powered by both this hard-hitting instrumental that has several moments of tenderness to it, and nothing but soulfulness on the hook. Drake takes advantage of these aspects by opting to drop some of his most vulnerable lyrics on the album, trading his punchlines and trendy flows for wise words and deep thoughts. As a man, I can honestly say I took notes.
“Look at the way we live/I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid/From empty souls who just wake up and look to debate/Until you staring at your seed, you could never relate.” Is that not the deepest s**t you’ve ever heard Drake say?
“Jaded,” the slow jam off of this album, is that one track in which Drake fully lives up to his R&B potential. On it, he does everything from harmonize to play your stereotypical fragile ass light skin dude, never sounding too ashamed to get laughed at by studs like myself that happened to stumble upon the record (HA HA! Nervous laugh).
From start to finish, I hear serious effort from the 6 God on this track, as he relies on the vibes of the instrumental to guide him to the perfect hook, melody and subject matter that will make this ruthless lover he’s chasing reconsider dissing him in favor of someone more suitable.
Drake has money, so how does he keep ending up in these poor situations where girls try to play him?
2. IN MY FEELINGS
“In My Feelings” is “Scorpion’s” hit record. It’s fun, it’s dynamic, and even has these DJ cuts to it that I think club-goers will absolutely love. It almost sounds like a more tamed “Nice For What,” and we all know “Nice For What” is a billboard hit.
Don’t you get this feeling that Drake tried to throw as many sounds as he could into the fray of this song? I hear Naija vibes, ratchet vibes, and even sappy vibes throughout. Way to show your versatility, Drake!
1. GOD’S PLAN
Is this Drake’s best first single? (It’s between this and “Hotline Bling,” to me.)
“God’s Plan” just brings joy to my heart every time I hear it. It represents a version of our hero that’s in this happy place that no amount of BBW’s, blind-sided Pusha-T disses or Lebron James’ winning shots can take away from him. When it first came out, I guaranteed that it would get lots of club burn — not only because it was made by Drake, but also because it has every major element a hit song needs (Catchy lyrics, a melodic hook, breakdowns in the beat, and most importantly, very relatable content.) Rappers, take notes, this is exactly how you make a hit record.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. SURVIVAL (4.5/5)
2. NONSTOP (4/5)
3. ELEVATE (4.7/5)
4. EMOTIONLESS (5/5)
5. GOD’S PLAN (5/5)
6. I’M UPSET (4.9/5)
7. 8 OUT OF 10 (4.8/5)
8. MOB TIES (3.8/5)
9. CAN’T TAKE A JOKE (3.9/5)
10. SANDRA’S ROSE (4.4/5)
11. TALK UP (3.8/5)
12. IS THERE MORE (3.9/5)
1. PEAK (4/5)
2. SUMMER GAMES (3.9/5)
3. JADED (4.9/5)
4. NICE FOR WHAT (5/5)
5. FINESSE (4/5)
6. RATCHET HAPPY BIRTHDAY (4.8/5)
7. THAT’S HOW YOU FEEL (5/5)
8. BLUE TINT (4.4/5)
9. IN MY FEELINGS (4.7/5)
10. DON’T MATTER TO ME (5/5)
11. AFTER DARK (4.5/5)
12. FINAL FANTASY (4/5)
13. MARCH 14 (4.9/5)
*Just to make it clear, my overall rating takes into consideration many different factors such as ‘Song By Song Breakdown,’ ‘Creativity,’ ‘How The Album Flows,’ and ‘it’s personal effect on me while I listen to it.’ I personally think a good album is more than just a bunch of bundled up good songs. Now I shall continue!
This album is probably closer to a C then it is to a B.
Drake left all the expectations that people had for his music behind and finally made an album that fits precisely how he feels about a variety of topics. From start to finish of it, I felt like he finally got a chance to let the world know that he is human just like us, with the only difference being that he is able to pour his emotions into music that is capable of being a top 10 hit on the billboard charts (Talented S.O.B.!). I’ll go as far as to say that this is his most simplistic album to-date, as it features music that doesn’t quite blow you away with its sound. Really, it’s just 24 solid tracks that have no interest in being trendy.
You know what else I noticed about Drake’s mindset on this album? I feel like he didn’t mind tip-toeing the line between rap and r&b throughout it, which results in organic hip hop music that sees no genres (I felt like at times he forced the blending of both genres on his previous projects). He doesn’t care that many individuals have taken umbrage of his spot on raps Mount Rushmore, he still goes hard when he needs to, and mopes with the best of them regardless of who’s looking when he needs to, too. This tells me he’s finally become an artist that is only worried about his own lane, which means fans of his should expect more vulnerability and less focus on trying to make the best thing since sliced bread from him moving forward.
In my humbling opinion, Side B of this album is definitely better than Side A. When you allow Drake to step outside of that cliche rap box, he’s something special in this game, and that is what 97% of that side of the album represents. Don’t get me wrong, the tracks in which he spills his guts about personal topics like his newborn child and bounties on his head are riveting, but nothing tops the songs in which he plays lonely ole Heartbreak Drake that wants a hug and to fit in with the vibes of the production as opposed to rule it. To be completely honest with you, there were way too many mundane tracks on Side A.
You know the number one thing that caught my attention about this album? Every song had it’s own personality. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Drake made each one at different times. As a reviewer, that makes things tough, because what I think is a top 5 song could be completely different than what you think is one.
Drake’s rapping on the album was deep, carefree, and simple. It feels like he made it a mission to talk to us more directly in “Scorpion,” making us believe we were key witnesses to the the trials and tribulations he goes through as an artist/father/regular joe. Every word he spewed on this project was felt rather than heard, and the way he tackled his topics straddled the line between carefree and careless.
Is this Drake’s best album to-date? Probably not, but I do think it is his most important. Simply put, it felt like he got a chance to finally say a bunch of things that was bottled up in his mind, and this solace I felt in his demeanor made it feel like his words on this project were long overdue. I’m happy for dude and hope he continues to find a happy medium between his personal life and music, but can’t help but wonder what his career would look like if he used this same approach on all of his albums from the past.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.