‘Views’ – Drake‘s fourth studio album – is finally here. Since initially being announced back in July 2014, the Toronto rapper has gone on to release two platinum-selling mixtapes (‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late‘ and ‘What a Time to Be Alive‘) as well as the biggest hit of his career (‘Hotline Bling’). All the while, Drizzy has been working on this full-length LP, meaning that fans have been anticipating some kind of masterpiece.
On first listen, it’s Drake’s most diverse and all-encompassing record to date, combining all the elements he’s showcased before it: straight-up rap next to moody R&B, boastful while introspective. It’s pretty much the whole spectrum of Drake.
After premiering the album, Drake told Zane Lowe: ” I don’t want you to get it right away. If you’re able to get it right away and say ‘okay, I get it. That’s a great song.’ I don’t want that.” With apologies to Drake, here’s our track-by-track rundown of ‘Views’.
‘Keep The Family Close’
Possibly Drake’s most introspective moment in a long time, maybe the most vulnerable we’ve heard him since ‘Take Care’. The opener eases us in with quintessential Drakeisms: lyrics about friendzoning and shout-outs to his family, all set to moody production. Instrumentally is perhaps where ‘Keep The Family Close’ is most interesting, a slow jam spliced with big band euphorics.
Drakiest lyric: “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore”
This one is almost a direct response to the ballad intro that came before. On ‘9’, Drake puts the R&B on hold and is in full-on rap mode. It’s one “for the dogs dem”, as he puts it in the first line, one to silence any doubters who still think he’s just a singer and not a rapper. The title refers to Drizzy’s self-asserted influence on his hometown of Toronto (“I turn the six upside down, it’s a nine now”).
Drakiest lyric: “Momma hit my phone and said rap’s no good”
‘U With Me?’
A mixed bag. The first half of ‘U With Me?’ sees Drake linking up with his idols, with Kanye on production and a hook that incorporates DMX’s ‘How’s It Goin’ Down’ in the same way as he gave a shout-out to Wu-Tang on ‘Nothing Was The Same’. The last verse is where the song really kicks in, with Drake energised and spitting bars with a greater sense of urgency.
Drakiest lyric: “You toyin’ with it like Happy Meal”
‘Feel No Ways’
Like ‘Hotline Bling’, but with a far more interesting beat. The hi-hat smashing production comes courtesy of Jordan Ullman of Drake’s OVO signees Majid Jordan. Lyrically, the song sees Drizzy drawing a line in the sand and swearing to move on from a parasitic ex, which – if you know Drake – isn’t always the easiest thing for him to do.
Drakiest lyric: “There’s more to life than sleeping in / And getting high with you”
After a run of some fairly reflective tracks, ‘Hype’ is Drake at his most boastful, taking shots at his rivals and bragging what he’s “done in my life”. “‘Views’ already a classic,” he claims while only five songs deep. Hmm, we’ll have to see about that. Taking ‘Hype’ on its own and it’s far from a Drake classic. Last year’s Meek Mill diss ‘Back To Back’ served far more effective at articulating exactly the same sentiments.
Drakiest lyric: “Chasing women a distraction / They want to be on TV right next to me”
‘Weston Road Flows’
The song’s titular ‘Weston Road’ is a street in Toronto that Drake grew up on, “back when we couldn’t buy pizza cause we were down to pennies”, and the track sounds equally nostalgic, with Drake rapping over a hazy sample of ‘Mary’s Joint’ by Mary J Blige. Drake settles scores and gets a whole lot of baggage off his chest in a one-verse take that stretches over four minutes.
Drakiest lyric: “I’m happiest when I can buy what I want / Get high when I want”
‘Redemption’ sees Drake confused and conflicted in a way that many are when seeking for some kind of solace. He’s remorseful (“I’m searchin’ for these words to say to you. Please give me time”), in need of recognition (“Certain people need to tell me they’re proud of me”), yet bitter and dismissive (“Relationships slowin’ me down, they slow down the vision”) at the same time. It’s like Drake’s version of the five stages of grief.
Drakiest lyric: “Why do I want an independent woman to feel like she needs me?”
‘With You’ ft. PartyNextDoor
Fellow Canadian PartyNextDoor has always seemed on the verge of delivering one massive smash-hit since signing to Drake’s OVO Sound in 2013. So far, he’s mostly played the part of back-up, appearing on album tracks from Drizzy’s previous efforts ‘Nothing Was the Same’ and ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’. This one is sadly no different. ‘With You’ sees PartyNextDoor take the lead but, despite finally being given some more spotlight, the hook is easily forgettable. It’s only when Jeremih links up for some harmonies at the end that potential is shown. It’s unlucky really, as PartyNextDoor had penned the original reference track for Rihanna’s ‘Work’. Just imagine what could have been if he had kept it.
Drakiest lyric: “Mixing vodka and emotions, tapping into your emotions / Dry cry cause I’m hopeless”
‘Faithful’ ft. Pimp C & dvsn
‘Faithful’ is like the flip-side to ‘Feel No Ways’ that came earlier in the album. While the previous song saw Drake moving on from a drugged-up, procrastinating ex, this offering sees Drizzy bemoaning a love interest that’s working too much to invest in their relationship. The hook “Working, working, working, working, ain’t ya?” echoes his recent hit with Rihanna ‘Work’, while the opening combines the audio from an Amber Rose Instagram video and a posthumous verse from Southern rap legend Pimp C. Now that’s a combo we never expected.
Drakiest lyric: “That pussy knows me better than I know myself”
A slight dip in proceedings. ‘Still Here’ sees Drake doing the hooks and the verses (Drake featuring Drake, if you will), while talking himself up and telling everyone how long he’s going to be around for. It’s Drake on auto-pilot, basically.
Drakiest lyric: “I don’t need no pill to speak my mind, I don’t need that / I make people pay me for my time, yeah I need that”
Drake doing dancehall, including a slightly dubious attempt at Jamaican Patois (“I’m never on a waste ting shorty”). The song first leaked online back in March, with the earlier version featuring a verse from Popcaan. This update sees Popcaan’s part ditched in favour of a sample of Beenie Man’s ‘Tear Off Mi Garment’. Just like Kanye updated ‘Wolves’ to merge both its early incarnation (featuring Sia and Vic Mensa) and his later album version, Drake could have benefited from including both dancehall legend Beenie Man and his heir to the throne Popcaan.
Drakiest lyric: “My last girl would tear me apart, but she’d never wanna split a ting with me”
‘One Dance’ ft. Wizkid and Kyla
‘One Dance’ was released as a single earlier in April and continues Drizzy’s recent nod to the UK underground. After befriending Skepta, rubbing shoulders with Section Boyz and getting a Boy Better Know tattoo, here Drake pays homage to classic UK funky by sampling the Crazy Cousinz remix of Kyla’s ‘Do You Mind’. ‘One Dance’ is another dancehall-indebted dancefloor-filler, the size of which we’ve not heard since ‘Hotline Bling’.
Drakiest lyric: “Soon as you see the text, reply me”
‘Grammys’ ft. Future
‘Grammys’ sees Drake team up with Future for the first time since their collaborative mixtape ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ last year, and the song feels like it could actually have been recorded during the same sessions. Drizzy is strong here but sadly Future’s hook is a little too repetitive, grating and throwaway. The most common criticism of ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ was that the pair rarely linked up naturally in its songs, instead taking it in turns to deliver their hooks and verses. ‘Grammy’, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem.
Drakiest lyric: “Tell me how you really feel / I would ask you what’s the deal / But you don’t even got a deal”
Sampling Ha-Sizzle’s New Orleans bounce classic ‘Rode Dat Dick Like a Soulja’, Drake follows in Kanye’s footsteps of lifting an overlooked gem and turning it into a chart hit. He did the same with ‘One Dance’ and here, ‘Childs Play’ is just as catchy and effective.
Drakiest lyric: “Say I’m actin’ lightskin, I can’t take you nowhere”
‘Pop Style’ is another song released prior to the album’s officially drop and its lyrics are again vintage Drake: largely focusing on his recent beefs (“I can’t trust no fuckin’ body / They still out to get me cause they never got me”), hitmaking ability (“You’ve still got my number, girl you need to call me” making a nod to ‘Hotline Bling’) and rather facepalm-worthy one-liners (“Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum”). Most interestingly, the album version sees Kanye and Jay Z’s (rather underwhelming) verses removed. On last year’s ‘6PM In New York’, “You rappin’ like the throne should be the three of y’all” – does this now show that Drake has usurped them?
Drakiest lyric: “Tell my mom I love her if I do not make it”
‘Too Good’ ft. Rihanna
“It’s hard to do guy/girl collabs,” Drake told Zane Lowe after premiering ‘Views’, speaking specifically of this latest studio rendezvous with Rihanna. It’s not up there with ‘Take Care’, or even ‘Work’ for that matter, but the song sees both parties on solid form. However, it’s the Popcaan outro that really steals the show. There really needed to be more Popcaan on this album.
Drakiest lyric: “I wanna benefit from the friendship”
‘Summers Over Interlude’
Drake has explained how the album was inspired by the changing of the seasons in Toronto and this sounds exactly like what its title suggests. Its hazy, bleary-eyed nostalgia that reminds you of September approaching and the thought of leaving your summer love behind and heading back to school. It’s sung entirely by Majid Al Maskati, the second half of Majid Jordan to appear on the LP.
Drakiest lyric: “Summer is over, simple and plain / Found me some fun that’s good for the pain”
‘Fire & Desire’
Not meaning to gossip, but I think we can all speculate that the song might, just might, be about Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill. “Throwin’ dirt on my old name / Only gets worse when you know things,” he begins before a clear reference to ghostwriter allegations: “You know I’m a writer, nothin’ left to hide”. With sped-up soul samples that hark back to the opening production of ‘Nothing Was The Same’, ‘Fire & Desire’ comes as a late-in-the-day highlight.
Drakiest lyric: “You a real ass woman and I like it / I don’t wanna fight it”
Perhaps the strongest song on the LP, Drake is triumphant, focused and – quite frankly – completely smashes it. ‘Views’, the album’s title-track, operates as a home-straight sprint, a soundtrack as the credits roll.
Drakiest lyric: “My exes made some of my favourite music / I dated women from my favourite movies / Karma’s such a thing of beauty”
Does this one need any explanation? You’ve heard it. Your dad has heard it. Your dad’s dad has too, probably. Did the ubiquitous hit really need to be lumped onto the end here? No, not really. But – following the rest of the album – it sort of works as a victory lap.
Drakiest lyric: “Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out / Cause ever since I left the city, you started wearing less and goin’ out more”
Watch Father John Misty talk about Drake at The Brit Awards 2016