After a few listens of Views, a few things are clear. 1) Drake is still very much Drake. 2) He can do a narrative album well enough. 3) He surrounds himself with a team of the people best suited to make the type of music he envisions, and 4) For as much as he fancies himself the reigning king of modern-day hip hop’s throne, he seems yet again bored and disenchanted with his surroundings, even when he speaks on his triumphs.
There’s a lot of depth that you can delve into with an analysis of Views, which like previous Drake efforts, is best left to the individual listener. We can chat all day about the anonymously addressed shots he throws and to whom they’re addressed in actuality, but it all amounts to the same sort of lore he’s laid down before.
Instead of throwing stylistic curveballs like he did with If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, or the Future co-piloted What A Time To Be Alive, Views feels overwhelmingly like Take Care, Part II. If you’re a Torontonian or a die-hard Drake fan (as I’ve been known to be off and on), you’ll find Views to be an enjoyable, if mostly banger-free, affair. The storytelling arc is arguably the most cohesive of any of his previous works, but entirely devoid of envelope pushing.
The closest we get to new Drake experimentation is an inclusion of dancehall-flavored production and lyric delivery, which would feel great and fully authentic if it weren’t for the fact that such styles are currently seeing fad-level popularity in the Top 40. If you disagree, listen to Bieber’s “Sorry,” Rihanna’s “Work,” and follow the path of Diplo’s production involvement with increasingly pop-facing outlet Major Lazer for the last 5-10 years and get back to me. I don’t doubt that the influences are as real as can be to Drake’s musical growth, but instead of sounding like the proverbial ‘next step’ in his career, they come off ham-fisted, missing the originality that makes us wild for Drake in the first place.
“Faithful,” featuring the deceased Pimp C (who, correct me if I’m wrong, was long gone before Drake had spit his first bar) comes off the worst – while the track is well-made, it sounds like the same Drake from two summers ago, combined with an unbecoming ‘look at who I’m able to feature’ maneuver tacked on to it. For a guy with nothing to prove, Views sounds like he’s trying to prove everything way too hard – a victory lap when the race is still happening. Where A$AP Rocky was able to pull off assimilating his style into a UGK-sounding record, Pimp C sounds out of his element. Instead of feeling like a classy hat tip, his posthumous appearance comes off incongruous and amateur.
For an album that’s been hyped in some form for more than two years, Views’ end product is remarkably run-of-the-mill for all of Drake and company’s shared talent and abilities. Don’t get me wrong by reading this review as “Views is a poor album” — it isn’t, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than the vast majority of most new pop music we get pushed our way.
Sadly, however, Views is not a progression in Drake’s sound, lyricism, or career narrative. I might gladly throw this record on for chilling and relaxed listening, but the versatility of previous Drake efforts is absent here. A few cuts stand out (particularly the Future-featuring “Grammys,” and album finale “Views“) and do make for loud system cranking — the type of classic Drake you can pop champagne and celebrate with after you’re finished being in your feelings.
But all that said, Views is simply average for a Drake work. It says something when an artist can make an album that doesn’t come close to a number of his own previous efforts, while mostly lapping the field of everyone else. It also says something when the same album makes you feel boredom by the halfway mark, particularly with a work that seems so adamant about it being a full-length listening experience.
Cop it, keep it in your collection, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this is the quotable, tweetable, vineable, memeable or even repeat-listenable effort that any of his previous three releases have been. It’s Drake at his most mature, if still a bit in his feelings. Thing is, we’ve heard most of those already, a few times. It’s finally starting to wear thin.
Drake – Views: 3.0 / 5
Views is available to purchase on iTunes.