Drake's 'Views': First Thoughts
The Boy is back, but what to make of the album?
Drake had a big Draft Day, with the release of his latest album, Views . The Toronto superstar finally put out his long-awaited LP (featuring collaborations with Rihanna, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Future, etc.; and production overseen by 40)and participated in an interview with Apple’s Zane Lowe. During the track, the 20-track collection arrived on iTunes.
Here, REVOLT offers our very first thoughts on the project.
“Keep The Family Close”
Ralph Bristout, Senior Writer:
The wintry, cavernous hall of Drake’s stripped-bare album opener allows him to deliver a straightforward, soul-baring monologue about trust issues and loyalty. Over a dream weaving of roaring cymbals and hi-hats, he vents to an unnamed beau: “You’re so predictable, I hate people like you/ Kennedy Road taught me not to trust people like you.” Through the pain of realizing what isn’t, Drake utilizes the gloaming of this icy instrumentation to spool out the disappointment, which collapses sadness and regret into one frosty pool of reflection. “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore/ Guess that’s what they say you need family for.”
As mentioned to Zane Lowe during his OVO Sound Radio interview on Apple Music’s Beats 1, this album is Drake’s “most blatant display of me being proud of where I’m from.” Here he makes that note of hometown pride clear over flickering production, in addition to how that correlates to his plans with the music. “I made a decision last night that I would die for it, just to show the city what it takes to be alive for it.” That’s perhaps his most passionate declaration yet.
“U With Me?”
Like “Wu-Tang Forever,” Drake swims in a pool of emotional riskiness all while body interpolating DMX’s “How’s It Goin’ Down.” Updating the original, he paddles through with his signature unguarded flair, rapping “On some DMX shit, I group DM my eyes/ I told em they belong to me, that goes on for forever/ And I think we just get closer when we’re not together.”
“Feel No Ways”
Sounding like something that was cut and pulled from Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak sessions (Kanye co-produces this track), Drake skates over this danceable ode to independency. “I had to let go of us to show myself what I could do,” he confesses. Like a sequel to 2010’s “Karaoke,” another song about ending a relationship to forge his music career, he laments on a failed relationship through lines like: “I try with you, there’s more to life than sleeping in and getting high with you.” Where If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late found Drake at his most callous when it came to foes attempting to “drain me of my energy,” songs like this — among others (“Keep the Family Close,” “U With Me”) — suggest Views is the counterpart when it comes to his personal relationships. Drake’s wallowing in nostalgia aside, the producers, Jordan Ullman and Kanye, recreate the blues on this smooth number, making the lush keys and clicking drums sonically feel like a drive home through the snow.
Jayson Rodriguez, Editorial Director
After setting the mood with a couple slow and melodic cuts, The Boy muscles up on this brooding number, produced by Boi1da and nineteen85 with an assist from Beat Bully. It’s more in line with his recent work (IYRTITL, WATTBA), packed with bravado, chest thumpin’ and not-so-sly finger pointing. “Boss up, I’m the bigger homie,” he raps, potentially targeting Meek Mill, Kendrick Lamar or both. “But I’m one year older than my lil homie.”
“Weston Road Flows”
Drake continues to reign as a king in rap, which means defending your thrown. Here, he revisits his rise, tapping local Toronto tales wrapping in All-Star boasts, comparing himself to KD, Vince Carter and lamenting the trappings that aren’t always what they seem. The nostalgia is thick early on the album, an expected device given the title but it also seems on the dawn of 30, Drizzy is recalling a lot in his life and putting it all in perspective: dreams achieved, deferred and unexpectedly manifested.
The feelings expressed in “Redemption” almost offer an alternate take of what regrets are; instead of the one-drink-too-many paeans he fired away on “Marvin’s Room,” it’s as if he’s sobered up and stiffened up his back: “Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces?/Why do I want an independent woman to feel like she needs me?”
“With You” Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
Erin Simon, Social Media Producer
I felt like this song is a unique hybrid in terms of production. It has the typical, what I like to call, “Toronto-sound,” which is assisted by PARTYNEXTDOOR, but it also incorporates island-themed elements into it. So, although this song has that R&B flow, it has the potential to be a “dutty wine” danced-themed club song. In addition to that, the song has three solid R&B flavored artists, with Jeremih dropping in toward the 2:21 mark. All three have been successful in terms of making love/relationship/sex you up songs.
“Faithful” Feat. Pimp C & dvsn
“Faithful” was interesting considering the use of Amber Rose’s voice and the late Pimp C in the beginning of the track. Rose starts off with a dialogue talking about how she isn’t high maintenance and likes expensive things. Then Pimp C’s verse was very much different and not in line entirely with the beginning portion. In the core of the song, Drake talks about being faithful, but if you listen to Pimp C (in a recycled verse) it won’t hit you at first, but it really doesn’t fall in line really with the rest of the song. The appearance was likely used to pay homage and the production was done so well that you probably didn’t even pay attention. Game recognizes game, but we’re not sure if it all connected here.
“Still Here” packs a strong punch and thematically would fit in well on, say, IYRTITL, but the Daxz-helmed production doesn’t meet the potency of the song, which begs a question: is Drake’s reunion with 40 and their melodic sound what folks are looking forward to? Or has Drizzy’s dip into the ATL waters with Future and Metro Boomin’ too deep of a splash to swim away from?
Drake has been teasing his love for dancehall since Thank Me Later, wherein he uses “Find Your Love” as quick show and tell, but on “Controlla” he delivers the ultimate (and arguably his best) execution. By far one of the most undeniable records on the album, the slick and silky track is as arresting as the ocean breezes and glowing sun rays of a Caribbean vacation. Thawing out the wintry vibes from the first half of the album, here the summery weather gets a fitting soundtrack that calls for sunscreen and beach chair.
The transition into this song is pretty drastic if you are listening to the project straight through. You go from “One Dance,” which has that island, R&B feel to suddenly a hard-hitting trap song in “Grammys.” But, that’s expected when you have Future as a feature. This duo has become the preeminent 1-2 combo punch in hip-hop right now. “Grammys” is very much a follow up to Future and Drake’s collaborative project What A Time To Be Alive. It was a pretty good song, but so out of place for the overall project.
Drake has always had a complex relationship with women: he can’t help be like every other ladies man even though he knows exactly what’s happening and how it will affect his mate, and himself. On “Child’s Play,” there’s more in the moment heartache than usual for him, as he’s more of a pursuer and a come back to me guy. There’s fodder for the critics of, let’s call it his romantic chauvinism, when he warns he’ll give his paramour back to the hood. Where Drake often soars is in his honestly and his willingness to go to the edges of mistakes, explore and reveal. “I just wanna let you know that someone love you back.”
“Too Good” Feat. Rihanna
This needs to be said for those who said Drake brought Dancehall music to the attention of music listeners. You must’ve not been around or paid attention to the 2000s. If that’s the case, you’ve already missed the Dancehall craze, however, Drake and Rihanna have brought light back to it with “Work,” “One Dance,” and now “Too Good.” The aforementioned songs have held their stance in the trap-infested radio scene. So, this song serves two-fold: That people are still vibing to Dancehall music and, secondly, that Drake and Rihanna need to collaborate more—possibly for a joint island-theme project.
Crafty artists can smartly use interludes to introduce sounds or ideas that they couldn’t necessarily pull off without the execution coming off as jarring or worse, forced. With this one, Drake slows things all the way down, a drop in BPM even lower than the plan he and 40 play on. In terms of sequencing, it’s helps lay down a division toward the last act.
“Fire & Desire”
We’re invested in Drake’s recorded and personal lives so much that there’s a whole yarn of names we could spin to make up who he could be talking about here: Nicki? RiRi? A lost love from the T.Dot? Or, maybe even Toronto itself? His true romance throughout is career has always been his hometown, it would make sense his deepest emotion reside for where he lies his crown.
In addition to dropping his most self-aware lyric ever (“If I was you, I wouldn’t like me either”), Drake gives VIEWS its strongest record here. Triumphant, laser-focused, all while operating as LP’s home-run stretch, this is sonic equivalent to Drizzy sipping Virginia Black out of a golden gramophone. “I’m possessed, you can see it under the contacts / They think I had the silver spoon but they’ll get it soon,” he raps. “I still got something left to prove.” Cue the album credits.