As Drake’s highly-anticipated album VIEWS (or Views From the 6) is set to drop later this week, on April 29th, many things come into question on what could possibly be the biggest album of Drake’s career. After having another banner year in 2015– a year that saw Drake chart his highest solo charting single (“Hotline Bling”), a successful mixtape (read: album), If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, a collaborative project with Future, scoring multi-million dollar deals with Apple Music and Jumpman, and yeah, that small squabble with that one rapper from Philly.
2015, in hindsight, was one of the most historic years of any rapper, so when 2016 rolled in, Drake’s stock had risen to unprecedented levels. Drake has been teasing his legion of admirers with the release of VIEWS for the past couple years. Dangling it in our faces, sort of like how those writers for AMC’s The Walking Dead does to its viewers once a week in regards to its questionable storytelling. Simply put, it’s been torture to say the least.
VIEWS is easily Drake’s most abstruse project to date. Other than a few singles (I’ll touch on that later), rumored guest appearances, a secure release date, and the fact, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham has been living with Drake during the completion of VIEWS–we really don’t know any much about the project. All we know is that, this album, without question bares heavy weight on Drizzy’s position in rap. The 6 God’s legacy will rest on the outcome of VIEWS.
Ever since his ascension to the top of the hip-hop’s Mount Olympus, Drake has been the most polarizing figure of his generation. Aside from Kendrick Lamar, who else really has a legit chance of dethroning Drake from his 7-year reign? With that being said, this is where things get tricky for Drake. No matter how accomplished Drake has been throughout his career, one criticism that seems to linger over his head more than anything, is the fact, he hasn’t given us that classic album. So Far Gone, the mixtape that made Drake permanent fixture in pop culture, is a classic–but it’s not an album. His sophomore set Take Care is considered in most music circles his best album. While I agree at that notion, it doesn’t rectify that good doesn’t always equal classic.
Today, the word “classic” gets thrown around too loosely. Music gets consumed and disposed of at an expeditious rate, so it’s hard to sit on something and actually break it down by every aspect. When a new project drops, we become prisoners of the moment. We tend to crown something prematurely and in a week’s time it’s forgotten. VIEWS is “technically” Drake’s fourth album, following the releases of Nothing Was the Same, Take Care, and Thank Me Later. You can make a strong case for IYRTITL, but that discussion becomes frustrating by the minute. Drake has made classic songs. His loosies– the random songs he just drops out the blue for the internet and radio to devourer, are actually bigger than the songs on his actual albums. If you comprised all the songs he released for free and made it into an album, we could dead this conversation completely. Drake has yet to administer a cohesive project from start to finish. Take Care was dope and it set the tone for his next album to be his defining moment– like what Jay Z’s The Dynasty did for The Blueprint. When that defining moment came in the form of Nothing Was the Same, it broke little- to- no-new- ground. Quite frankly, he backpedaled a bit.
Another knock at Drake is the idea that he doesn’t believe in making monster first singles for his projects. Since Thank Me Later, Drake has selected underwhelming first singles to generate hype for his upcoming albums. VIEWS’ singles seems to fall right in line with traditional Drake first single releases. “Summer Sixteen”, which dropped back in January on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio, kickstarted the rollout for VIEWS. After dominating the fall of last year with “Hotline Bling”, “Summer Sixteen” seemed like a reach. Then came “One Dance” and “Pop Style”. While the former serves as a distant cousin to Rihanna’s chart-topping “Work”, the latter features a pair of living legends that surprisingly underperforms. The crazy thing about “Pop Style” is not fact that Jay Z dropped a verse about as long as a cough, but it highlights two artist in Hov and Kanye West, who’s dense music catalog basically shits on every Drake album in his discography. Kanye West arguably can make a case for having three classic albums before he even decided to make a fourth album. Hell, Jay Z’s weakest albums (In My Lifetime Vol.1) are considered classic albums (minus Kingdom Come). Only thing “Pop Style” did was state the obvious: Drake needs some classics, man.
Looking back on his beef with Meek Mill, it now seems to have done more harm than good. “Back to Back” is one of the best diss records in recent memory. It helped people forget about the ghostwriting allegations that have left a blemish on If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’s legacy. But the aura that “Back to Back” carried has since waned off leading up to VIEWS. Drake has proven that he could extinguish opposing opps in astounding fashion, but can he deliver a full-body of work that is equally astounding?
On April 29th, we’ll see.