After a three-year absence, Toronto rapper Drake reminds the crowd why he snuffs competition with his new album, “Certified Lover Boy.”
Setting the attitude of the 21-track release released on Sept. 3, “Champagne Poetry” builds from a slow R&B track, courtesy of Masego’s “Navajo” (2017), which, in turn, sampled The Beatles’ “Michelle” (1965).
Known for soul-bearing meditations, Drake checks that box, initially rapping to establish dominance, “I been hot since the birth of my son, I remain unphased, trust, worse has been done, Man, (expletive) evaluation, show me personal funds.”
Then with a lightning change-up like a Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) crossover breaking the ankles of an NBA defender, a soulful Jazzy bass sample takes over letting “Drizzy” get really personal.
Struggling with politics and pressure as an artist, he laments: “I know I tend to talk about how I got a fortune on me, But with that comes the politics the city been forcing on me, Man, I can’t even RIP and show my remorse to the homie.”
On “Girls Want Girls” (feat. Lil Baby), Drake and Baby show their admiration for lesbian women with head-scratching lines, “Say that you a lesbian, girl, me too. Ayy, girls want girls where I’m from. Wait, whoa, yeah, girls want girls.”
Following its release, the song received criticism online for fetishizing lesbians and WLW relationships. If that wasn’t controversial enough, “TSU,” about midway through playback, gives a writing credit to R&B artist R. Kelly for a sample for his 1998 song, “Half on a Baby.” Fallen from grace, Kelly, 54 faces multiple sex-trafficking and racketeering charges spanning two decades.
Overall, the Rap game vet, now in his 11th year, doesn’t break any exciting ground on his sixth LP. Rather, he makes the case that his confessional, quotable rhymes can harmonize in any musical setting/style.
In step with the mix-tape scene, he accepts a long list of collaborators and while his production is tight, this effort takes a lot of prominent beats/samples from other musicians. With this formula, Drake is unencumbered to spit his self-described — to Apple Music — mix of “toxic masculinity and acceptance of truth which is inevitably heartbreaking.”
“In the Bible,” is a compelling exhibit of him mixing up his cadence and twisting his flows on the smooth banger’s hook. The outcome has a woozy “after party” effect. At a slower tempo, it also features Lil Durk and Giveon who keep pace with “Drizzy.”
“Love All” featuring Jay-Z, is worth a listen for Drake clapping back on his haters. This cut samples the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay’s guest spot apparently means he’s impartial to the on-off nature of the Drake-Kanye West feud. Hova is also featured on West’s recently released record “Donda.”
For other memorable moments, queue “Way 2 Sexy” (featuring Future and Young Thug), which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” (1992). “7am on Bridle Path” points to Drake’s love for the NBA. Ultimately, he is a “global ambassador” for his hometown Toronto Raptors, but that didn’t stop him from accepting a fan’s challenge to name drop Milwaukee Bucks star and recent NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“You Only Live Twice” brings two of last decade’s most prominent Hip-Hop cliques together. Drake and Lil Wayne from Young Money and Rick Ross from his Maybach Music Group. It’s a sequel to Drake’s 2011 hit song “The Motto,” which brought to fame the acronym “YOLO.”
This incarnation includes a funky, psychedelic sample in the back of the mix when Drake — a multiple Grammy winner — brags about his music catalogue, “ Not sure if you know but I’m actually Michael Jackson. The man I see in the mirror is actually goin’ platinum.”