In his recent release, Drake repositioned himself from the luxurious and opulent personality many came to know him as into a resentful kingpin, dominating rap with his versatile blend of rapping and singing.
On Views, he’s reinvented himself once more, turning to his inner skeptic to create an acidic and biting personality. Drake’s plagued personality sits at the forefront of every song on Views, fighting off his competition from below and maintaining his weary grip on modern rap music.
One of the early singles from the album, “One Dance,” embodies this character precisely. As Drake toys with a feature by Wizkid, one of the most prolific rappers in Nigerian Afrobeat, he manages to create what can only be described as funk on Benadryl. The song breezes past without close inspection, quickly turning into an accessible and intoxicating dance tune but, based solely on production, it doesn’t warrant a second listen.
“One Dance” might be one of the most frightful songs on Views. Beyond the track’s muddy production, Drake is genuinely fearful, rapping “Streets not safe, But I never run away, Even when I’m away,” and praying that he makes it back in one piece after a long night of drinking. Later, he shames the girl he’s texting, demanding she reply as soon as she sees his text because he can’t afford to waste time.
This version of Drake — a megastar with anxieties and depression — is a true behind the scenes look into the mind of the 29-year-old icon. He certainly hasn’t abandoned his playful discussion of relationships, especially on “U With Me?” when he group messages all of his exes to tell them they belong to him, and waits for a “worthy reaction.” He even toys around with awkward clichéd one-liners in typical fashion, most notably on the album’s 15th track “Pop Style” when he says he’s “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum.”
But the Drake of yesteryear is long gone during most of this record, playing a passive second to the troubled psyche of the rapper. Views takes this sound so far, it’s as if Drake is wallowing and mocking the subgenre he once celebrated, created and popularized. The most potent track on the album “Redemption” cites his angst when he raps, “Sell my secrets and get top dollar, Sell my secrets for a Range Rover,” and continues later saying “Who’s gonna save me when I need savin’?, Since Take Care, I’ve been caretakin.’”
This stream-of-conscience style incorporates unheard sound on Views, including a general shift from an emphasis on the chorus to verses. On “Views”, the album’s most lyrically impressive track, Drake doesn’t even bother to pause for a break, mowing through his thoughts to conclude “If I was you, I wouldn’t like me either.”
The production team, led by Drake’s longtime producer and collaborator Noah “40” Shebib, mirrors Drake’s attitude. Almost every track on Views doesn’t attempt to convince anyone of Drake’s prowess, but soothes the listener into a musical coma.
For some fans, this album might detract from the persona they once knew by soiling Drake’s status as a rap mogul. For them, he leaves “Grammys,” an utterly out of place track amongst a sea of troubled rants meant to distract. Views makes it obvious that Drake doesn’t want those listeners anymore.
With this project, it’s impossible not to see Drake’s transformation — seven years ago he transformed rap music, re-centering the genre around infectious melodies, hooks and good vibes. With Views, he destroys the empire he created.
- Artist: Drake
- Genre: Rap
- Tracks: 20
- Rating: "Views from the 6"/10