The sixth album from the 6 God is finally here, and while the reviews may not be all too favourable, there’s still plenty to discuss from the 21-track LP.
Here are the key takeaways from Drake‘s ‘Certified Lover Boy’…
The Drake v Kanye cold war continues
Even since this album’s release, the steadily simmering Drake and Kanye beef has had more developments – specifically Drake leaking Kanye’s own diss track aimed towards him. But while ‘CLB’ doesn’t necessarily have an all-out diss track in the same vein as his Meek Mill snipe ‘Back To Back’ or Pusha T retaliation ‘Duppy Freestyle’, there are still a clutch of Kanye shots on the record.
On ‘No Friends In The Industry’, Drake references Kanye’s repeated attempts to meet face-to-face with him, saying “Why they always act like we can fix it with a meeting?”. He also takes snipes at West’s supposedly disloyal team (“Your circle shrinkin’, see some boys escapin’”), before suggesting that Kanye was already claiming victory in their head-to-head before ‘CLB’ even dropped: “We ain’t drop though, how you n****s celebrating?”.
Elsewhere on ‘7am on Bridle Path’, Drizzy takes a direct shot at Kanye’s recent leaking of his Toronto address (“Give that address to your driver, make it your destination / Instead of just a post out of desperation”), amid references to his ghostwriting for Ye (“Lettin’ me take the rap for that Casper the Ghost shit”) and snipes at Yeezy’s fashion empire (“I could give a fuck about who designing your sneakers and tees”).
Drake even manages to turn “kumbaya” into a Kanye pun, too – “Kumbaya, boom-ba-Ye”. Who’d have seen that coming, eh?
He’s got a lot of frenemies
“I got frenemies, got a lot of frenemies,” as Drake didn’t quite say once…
Given the Kanye v Drake narrative in the build-up to the release of both ‘CLB’ and ‘DONDA’, you’d be forgiven for expecting that stars adjacent to both camps would be forced to pick sides. It turns out that you’d be wrong as there are a number of artists that appear on both releases – Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Ty Dolla Sign, Travis Scott and Young Thug among them.
The most surprising guests on the ‘CLB’, however, have to be Kid Cudi and Jay-Z – the former being a long-time close pal of Kanye’s and the latter recently reunited with his estranged little bro on ‘DONDA’ highlight ‘Jail’. Should we expect the pair to soon be invited into Kanye’s passive-aggressive group chat? Well, we wouldn’t bet against it.
‘CLB’ doesn’t learn from the mistakes of ‘Scorpion’
When it comes to streaming numbers, less is definitely not more in terms of song count. Drake was one of the first major artists to churn out such bloated, 20 track-plus albums that were basically overstuffed in order to maximise streaming revenue, and changed the landscape of hip-hop releases in doing so.
We all know that Drake can top the chart and conquer streaming services at his whim (‘CLB’ has already broken Drake’s own Spotify record), but what most fans have wanted for a fair few years now has been a more focused effort from the Toronto star. Drizzy himself seems to be aware of this too, previously promising that this LP would be “more concise”.
Well, it turns out that Drake lied. Sure, there are some memorable tracks here (‘Champagne Poetry’, ‘Fair Trade’, ‘You Only Live Twice’), but at 21 tracks and 86 minutes, ‘CLB’ is a bit of a slog to get through – simply weighed down by the considerable amount of filler – ‘Race My Mind’ and ‘Knife Talk’ among the most instantly forgettable on the record. The running length could have been even longer too, seeing as the past two years have also seen Drake release a mixtape and an EP.
On 2015’s ‘Back To Back’, Drizzy boasted at having the “Midas touch”, but it seems like he still hasn’t quite realised that not every single studio off-cut needs releasing.
The hit machine grinds to a halt
One of the most surprising things about ‘CLB’ is its distinct lack of singles. No matter the overall quality on display on any given Drake record, each one has always come with a least a handful of hits that have cemented their place in a Best Of Drizzy playlist. ‘Take Care’ had its title track and ‘Crew Love’; ‘Nothing Was the Same’ had ‘Started From The Bottom’ and ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’; ‘Views’ had the chart-demolishing ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘One Dance’. Even ‘Scorpion’ had ‘Nice For What’, ‘God’s Plan’ and ‘In My Feelings’.
For years it has felt like Drake could conjure up a hit in his sleep. Many must have wrongly assumed that his 2020 banger ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’ would find its way onto ‘CLB’, but that has been curiously left off the final tracklist. You could say that Drake wasn’t looking to make a “pop record” with ‘CLB’, but then the track ‘Way 2 Sexy’ contradicts that.
Speaking of which…
The Right Said Fred sample will offend your ears
Have you ever thought to yourself, “you know what, I really want to hear Drake, Young Thug and Future hop on a sample of Right Said Fred’s kitsch uncle-dancing-at-the-christening classic ‘I’m Too Sexy’”? Nope, no one ever has wanted that.
But here we are, this exists. And even worse than the sample itself, and the purposely corny video, are the song’s lyrics. “Money, cars, and all this jewellery make a bitch look sexy,” offers Future. The usually-brilliant Young Thug, meanwhile, serves up these regrettable lines: “Molest me, caress me… I been kickin’ shit, might need a prosthetic”.
Drake’s lyrics are Drake-ier than ever
Drake has always had a knack for lyrics that are so bad that they’re good. After all, who can forget “You could have my heart or we could share it like the last slice” from ‘Best I Ever Had’. Take this ‘Views’ highlight too: “You toying with it like Happy Meal”. Then there’s the oh-so-painful pun “Got so many chains I feel like Chain-ing Tatum” (from ‘Pop Style’). Drake’s the rapper that launched a million captions, basically.
‘CLB’ is full of these cringeworthy one-liners too. We bare witness as Drake muses on sexuality (“Say that you a lesbian, girl, me too” – ‘Girls Want Girls’), loyalty (“If it was ride or die then you should’ve been dead right now” – ‘Pipe Down’), gives us a CSI: Miami reference (“With the ho ratio, I’m like David Caruso” – ‘7am on Bridle Path’) and acts as a look-out as his model mates tend to their bad habits (“Lock the door to the bathroom ’cause they doin’ something that is not Pepsi” – ‘Papi’s Home’).
“Under a picture lives some of the greatest quotes from me,” from the Beatles-sampling ‘Champagne Poetry’, takes his Insta-caption-rap to a meta-level, while “Heart is on my sleeve and my body is in the hall of fame”, from ‘7am on Bridle Path’, is probably the one lyric here that will flood your timeline.
‘N 2 Deep’, meanwhile, is responsible for the ickiest line on the record (“Baby, that pussy was so worth the wait”), while this ‘Papi’s Home’ lyric has to win the pettiness award: “I remember that I told you I miss you, that was kinda like a mass text”. Fuckbois the world over are already taking notes.
Don’t expect a dad-rap album
After ‘DONDA’ saw Kanye opening up about his divorce, and the final track from ‘Scorpion’ (‘March 14’) featured Drake addressing at length the subject of becoming a dad, you might expect more bars about fatherhood on ‘CLB’. But while Aubrey’s three-year-old son Adonis is mentioned sporadically across the album, Drizzy rarely delves deeper than the surface level.
“Co-parent of the year, we figured out a rapport,” Drake raps on opener ‘Champagne Poetry’, before quickly changing the subject in the next line to how much money he made on his last tour. On ‘TSU’, he calls his son “an adorable kid” – which is pretty cute if it didn’t come right after a line where he says of a former love interest: “We used to do pornos when you would come over but now you got morals and shit.” Hope this album comes with a parental advisory sticker…
It’s a strong contender for ‘Worst Artwork of the Year’
Drake’s Damien Hirst-designed pregnant-women-emoji artwork for ‘CLB’ could mean a number of things. Maybe it’s a reference to the album’s nine-month delay (AKA the whole period of a pregnancy). Perhaps it’s a joke about Drake getting paternity tests. Or maybe it just means that he’s the kind of rich person who buys Damien Hirst paintings.
Whatever the answer, it’s not a cover that’s going to age well, is it?
R. Kelly getting a co-writer credit is unfortunate, but leaves a bad taste
After Kanye put Marilyn Manson and DaBaby on ‘DONDA’, R. Kelly getting a writing credit on ‘CLB’ was always going to make headlines. But instead of being a feature, sample or ghostwrite like many might have presumed, the reality of how Kelly ended up in the credit list is much more mundane.
Drake‘s producer Noah “40” Shebib recently explained: “On a song called ‘TSU’ at the beginning is a sample of OG Ron C talking. Behind that faintly which you can’t even hear is an R Kelly song playing in the background… R Kelly’s voice isn’t even present but if we wanted to use Ron C talking we were forced to license it… To think we would stand beside that guy or write with him is just incredibly disgusting.”
Obviously, this isn’t quite the same as inviting an alleged sexual abuser and man accused of homophobia to hang out on stage, but it still feels needless. Given Kelly is currently standing trial for sexual abuse, racketeering and bribery (he has consistently denied all claims against him), it probably would have just been better to remove the intro altogether, guys?
Lil Wayne and Rick Ross collab is a rare gem
A sequel of sorts to 2011’s ‘The Motto’ (which famously coined “YOLO”), ‘You Only Live Twice’ is an undoubted highlight on the record.
Featuring killer verses from Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, the pair keep the energy levels high as Drake delivers shots that we’re fair to assume are directed to Swizz Beats. “You wanna shoot me down, it can’t be love… That day you sounded like a bitch, you fancy, huh?” Drizzy raps, referencing the time Swizz threatened to shoot down Drake’s private plane because he leaked a track.
All in all though, the song’s an absolute banger. More of these, please, Drake.