For a musician as massively successful as Drake is, he's sure mopey. He's got trust issues. He pines for women from his past. And all that bling? Well, it doesn't seem to be making him happy. If anything, it just amplifies his isolation and creates conflict with friends who are trying to con him out of all his money.
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Drake sometimes finds genuine satisfaction in caring for others ("Keeping people fed is my only peace of mind now," he says on "9"). He's also aware of how not squandering his success is important for those who work for him ("Understand I got responsibilities to people that I need"). Likewise, "Pop Style" mentions providing for his family. "One Dance" prays for a girlfriend's safe return, asks for "strength and guidance" for friends" and looks to avoid conflict ("I don't wanna spend time fighting"). On "Keep the Family Close," Drake says family members are the only people he can depend upon, contrasting them with friends' betrayals ("Guess that's what they say you need family for/'Cause I can't depend on you anymore").
"Hype" admits, "Chasing women is a distraction" and honestly ponders what comes after reaching the top of the heap ("I don't know what else is left for me"). "Feel No Ways" tells a paramour he's feuding with, "There's more to life than sleeping in/And getting high with you."
"Faithful" finds Drake promising to live up to that lofty word ("I won't have affairs, I'm yours, girl/Faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful"). "Fire & Desire" looks forward to marriage with someone Drake respects ("I just wanna wife/Keep you in front, never in the back/And never on the side, yeah"). "Redemption" wonders, "Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces?" Elsewhere on that song, Drake vulnerably admits that the affirmation of those close to him is important ("Certain people need to tell me they're proud of me/That mean a lot to me") and realizes that his workaholic tendencies tend to have a negative impact on his relationships. That song also asks, "Who's gonna save me when I need savin'?"
"Weston Road Flows" shows that poverty can't stand in the way of brotherhood. Then the song emphasizes the connection between success and hard work, advising, "Don't let your newfound fame fool you or cloud up your judgment" and even admitting, "Money can't buy happiness."
Harsh profanities (f-words, s-words, n-words, "b--ch," "a--," etc.) earn iTunes' "Explicit" warnings for 18 of these 20 tracks. Add to that drugs and graphic sexual encounters.
"U With Me?" states, "My house is the definition/Of alcohol and weed addiction." "Weston Road Flows" tells us, "I'm happiest when I can buy what I want/Get high when I want." Guest rapper Future's contribution on "Grammys" mentions the prescription drugs Xanax and Percocet, as well as cocaine.
"With You" talks of deliberately plying women with alcohol ("Mixing vodka and emotions, tapping into your emotions") before moving on to casual sex ("Choose your lover for the moment"). "Faithful" includes an explicit reference to a woman's sexual anatomy, then instructs, "On my way from the studio, so get undressed/Let's do the things that we say on the text/I want to get straight to the climax," then concludes with another reference to a woman's orgasm.
"Controlla" repeatedly references "aggressive" intercourse and includes a winking allusion to the size of a man's anatomy. Coitus gets even more acrobatic on "Child's Play," which includes references to a woman having sex with athletes on a basketball team and trading sex for new clothes. There are, again, explicit references to sexual body parts, and the song suggests that a man would be crazy to trade endless casual sex for marriage ("Married in our twenties? Now where's the fun in that?")
Still more sexual content turns up on other tracks (a couple of which talk about "grinding"), as do other references to drugs and alcohol. "Redemption" threatens, "I'll kill somebody if they give you problems," then rhymes, "Master bedroom's where we get it poppin'."
On "Still Here," Drake brags that it's his wealth and celebrity that put him on not just fans' maps but also God's. He chants, "I gotta talk to God even though He isn't near me/Based on what I got it's hard to think that He don't hear me/Hittin' like that 30 on my jersey, man I'm gifted/Whole lot of sixes, but I'm still like/Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah/Six-point star, lion of the Judah" And then the song ends with this spiritually self-focused worship refrain: "Wow, all praise to the most high up."
The view from Drake's lofty perch near the top of the rap pedestal is a lonely one. Amid the melancholy fog where he generally spends his time, Drake occasionally has some perceptive—if fleeting—moments of introspective insight.
But after spending the day looking at life from all the angles in Drake's Views, I was just tired. Twenty downbeat tracks exhibit a worldview that's still as empty—filled, as it is, with self-love, sex, drugs, alcohol and crates of cash—as it was when last we heard from Toronto's native son.
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Debuted at No. 1 by selling just over 1 million album equivalent units.
Cash Money Records, Young Money Entertainment, Republic Records
April 29, 2016