It’s hard to argue that 2015 wasn’t a great year for Drake. Without even releasing an official studio album, he was nominated for Grammys, topped the charts twice with What A Time To Be Alive and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and finally finished his deal with Cash Money Records. Drake was even exposed for using a ghostwriter by Meek Mill, but was able to convince people it didn’t matter so well that he won ‘Best Rap Performance’ for the the diss track. To follow up his massive year, Drake has released VIEWS, arguably the most hyped album of his career.
Originally titled Views From The 6, the record was announced in 2014 when Drake was still feeding off his hit single, “0 to 100.” Complications with Drizzy’s record label Cash Money Records, however, may have prolonged the release. Fast forward to April 28th, 2016 and the wait was over. It was time for Drake to officially establish himself as the top star in the game with his 4th studio album. But then Drake said this:
“All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore.”
Let’s just take a look at how Drake started his last three albums.
“I think I killed everybody in the game last year, man fuck it I was on though.”
-Take Care (2011)
“Coming off my last record, I’m getting 20 million off the record just to off this records, nigga that’s a record.”
-Nothing Was The Same (2013)
“When I pull up on a nigga tell that nigga back, back
I’m too good with these words, watch a nigga backtrack
If I die, all I know is I’m a mothafuckin’ legend
It’s too late for my city, I’m the youngest nigga reppin”
-If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015)
Say what you will about the apparent arrogance Drake presents with these lines, but these statements are what establish the album’s purpose. They are there to prove a point, to show why he feels he’s number one. After If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, he was pretty close to convincing us he was right. Everything he touched was a hit, but with the release of VIEWS, Drake showed us that he ran out of points to prove.
We find Drake in pretty much the same situation as he was before in VIEWS. His romances haunt him, he has trust issues, and he thinks he’s better than the man his girl has left for. But what set Drake’s previous studio albums apart is that on those records he was still trying to prove something. Even today, Drake’s likability still weighs heavily on the fact that he makes himself feel like an underdog story. “Started From The Bottom,” (take it as you will) was a story constructed off of Drake proving the haters wrong. Drake’s 2015 was arguably his best year because his biggest rap single, “Back To Back,” proved that he didn’t need ghostwriters. But with VIEWS, Drake may have just shown that 20 songs is too much to ask for without a little writing help.
Just take a look at these struggle lines.
“Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum”
–“Pop Style,” VIEWS
“You toying with it like Happy Meal”
–“U With Me?,” VIEWS
Drake has already done this album before, and he’s done a much better version of it (see, Take Care). Many of the songs on VIEWS just feel like reincarnated versions of previous Drizzy songs. “Hype” may serve as another version of Summer Sixteen as he once again throws shade at Meek Mill and Tory Lanez. “Grammys” sounds like a bonus track from What A Time To Be Alive. And “Redemption” seems like a longer version of “Marvin’s Room” with more straightforward complaints and a longer rap verse.
When Drake is at his best, he is able to creatively turn his life’s story into music. But with VIEWS, Drake is simply stating he’s at the top. The cover art may be the best example of showing where Drake is at this point in his career. He’s on top of the world, but he doesn’t really know what to do so he might as well just sit there.