A Column by Karlton Tate and Isaac Rosso Klakovich
Acclaimed rapper, singer, and hip-hop mogul Drake has had a widely successful career thus far. This year, Drake predicted that he would dominate the summer season alongside rapper Future with their widely trumpeted Summer Sixteen Tour. However, other hip-hop albums like Schoolboy Q’s “Blank Face,” YG’s “Still Brazy,” and Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” were considered better by most hip-hop fans. It is clear that the rapper’s prediction fell short of its mark, as he was eclipsed by these more impressive artists and rap releases.
Drake’s current crisis lies in his lack of devotion to lyrical delivery yet commitment to accessible music. He straddles the line between rapper and singer and excels in neither of these realms of hip-hop as a result. Most of his songs revolve around similar themes of heartache, but unlike his peers Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper, he only ever scratches the surface of these complex subjects. Songs like “Best I Ever Had,” “Find Your Love,” and “Practice” never go much deeper than their title, and are usually centered around exceedingly dull and repeated refrains that feel empty instead of emotionally resonant.
Aside from his breakout album “Take Care,” Drake’s bland, melancholy delivery takes his already uninspired lyrics and makes his music painfully monotonous to listen to. Most of his songs are delivered with the same fake-sounding callous voice, making it seem that while love might be on Drake’s mind, it is not in his heart. On “Take Care,” Drake’s delivery on many tracks was far more tender, elevating lyrically empty songs like “Practice” to enjoyable tracks and elevating lyrically rich songs like “Marvin’s Room” to standout tracks from the year in hip-hop. However, Drake’s follow up project “Nothing Was The Same” saw a return to poor lyrical delivery, and contained tracks like “Started From the Bottom,” which were so devoid of passion that made it seemed like Drake had passed the point of no return.
In February of 2015, Drake’s mixtape turned album “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” finally pointed the rapper in a new direction. The album offered high-energy rap delivery, and a plethora of meaningful songs as Drake was looking introspectively on his fame like never before. While he initially claimed on the opening track “If I die, all I know is I’m a motha******’ legend,” he later explained on “Now and Forever” that, “I’m afraid that I’mma die before I get where I’m going.” While the album was unable to completely pull Drake from his previous lyrical doldrums, it seemed that he was trying to be more lyrically ambitious, and combined with his reinvigorated delivery it was his best album to date.
Unfortunately, Drake’s most recent full length release, “Views,” saw the rapper revert back to bland content. At 20 tracks and 81 minutes, the album is Drake’s longest to date, and it suffers greatly from this fact as a result. The album seems to be the succession of 2013’s “Nothing Was The Same,” with a few good radio singles coupled with tedious filler. The bass driven track “One Dance” or club dance hit “Child’s Play” are some of Drake’s catchiest, yet blandest singles to date. Once again Drake seems averse to risks, and unless he works hard to change the path he’s on, his career might not be remembered as fondly as he hopes.