A lot has changed since Drake’s massive 2018 album, “Scorpion”.
The world has been crippled by a devastating pandemic, US president Donald Trump vacated office in the midst of a political firestorm, a worldwide Black Lives Matter campaign took off after an officer murdered an unarmed black man on camera.
In the midst of all of this, one thing seems unchanging: Drake is going to Drake.
His latest offering, “Certified Lover Boy” (CLB) arrives in a new world yet it offers no new perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album: It pulls on the heart strings with songs like “N 2 Deep” and “Get Along Better”.
The lead single “Way 2 Sexy” delivers on that standard summer anthem that Drake has delivered every year without fail for a decade now, and “Champagne Poetry” is a worthy addition to an impressive list of album intros that dates back to the stunning Alicia Keys-assisted “Fireworks”. It’s classic Drake.
And therein lies the problem. Drake isn’t pushing the envelope anymore. “Why would he when the formula is working?” you ask.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” you say. Well, when you’re a musical behemoth like Drake, the expectations are high. We expect growth. We want to be wooed and wowed.
After an initial burst of excitement that saw the album break all sorts of streaming and chart records in its first week, the CLB hype has rapidly died down.
The album apparently lacks replay value because we already know all about the strip club rendezvous he’s regaled us with a dozen times before. We know that he can’t make up his mind about which woman he wants to settle down with. Is there nothing more to share?
While his made-to-be-memed album cover, a depiction of 12 pregnant women emojis over a white background, was a genius move and achieved its purpose by spawning a viral wave of social media remakes, the music itself didn’t carry the same creative gusto.
“It’s the petty boys versus the pretty boys,” he raps on the luxurious intro, “Champagne Poetry”, ironically ignoring the fact that the rest of the album is filled with much of the pettiness we’ve grown accustomed to from Drake.
Drake is 34 now, but he sounds like his 22-year-old self – still constantly bemoaning unfaithful women and disloyal friends.
In an apparent effort to tap into a well-earned reputation for creating popular Instagram captions, Drake forces lines throughout the album.
Lines like “Can’t picture being a hubby, finger too stubby to fit a ring on” and “So much sh** I wanted to say straight to your face, but you’re so two faced so I don’t know which face”.
Oh, and who can forget Drake identifying as lesbian: “Said that you a lesbian, girl me too.”
So where to from here? Who knows. Success can be intoxicating. Drake’s formulaic approach to his music has rewarded him so handsomely that he may not find any need to challenge himself.
And Drake clearly doesn’t care what we think, especially if you’re on WiFi you didn’t pay for.
“Picture me caring what n****s saying on Wi-Fi they don’t pay for,” he raps on CLB stand-out, “Race My Mind”.
Maybe, just maybe, he should care more.