Album Review: #12: Drake - Views
by sarah muhammad
Before proceeding with the review on this next project, I think it is worth noting that I wrote half of the review before scraping the entire draft because it was an enormous task to not just write about this project, but to do it masterfully so as not to cheapen the effect. Besides the lukewarm reviews from critics, unsatisfactory fan reception and disjointed direction of stylistic congruency, Views still managed to make it on my list because of two things that Drake has done flawlessly over his ten year career: make realistic, vulnerable, and relatable music and develop a hit record. The album begins with the track “Keep the Family Close”, a shining exemplification of the term “Draking”, with a theatrical orchestral arrangement under the rapper sharing disappointments about failed relationships. Though this may have been presumed to set the tone for this 20-track long monstrosity, fans were in for a smorgasbord of sound to say the least. Some of the better slow-tempo tracks that shined through were “Redemption” and “Faithful”. “Redemption”, like “Keep the Family Close”, details a somber disenchantment but provides a higher level of introspection with lyrics such as “Who's gonna save me when I need savin'?/Since Take Care, I've been caretakin'”, signifying the rapper’s sentiments of disconnection and exhaustion with the people he has helped in his life and the lack of reciprocation. On “Faithful”, the track includes a memorable opening feature from the late UGK rapper Pimp C, upholding the Southern rap influence Drake houses, and a sensual, icy outro verse from R&B singer dvsn. The construction of the track is reminiscent to that of the tone on “The Real Her” from Take Care, deliberate and mild, with the chorus “Working, working, working, working, ain't ya?/You don't have no time to lay up/You just trying to be somebody/'Fore you say you need somebody/Get all your affairs in order/I won't have affairs, I'm yours, girl/Faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful”, referencing a woman whose discipline and dedication to her success have caught his attention as fascinating and attractive. For the three singles of the album, “Hotline Bling”, “Controlla”, and “One Dance”, Drake settled into a dancehall/Afrobeat wave adding a colorful flavor to the otherwise mundane theme of hardship and pain, complete with Caribbean flare and the use of Jamaican patois, making them instant hits. The added excitement on the album comes from the more traditional rap tracks, such as “Hype”, “Still Here”, “Pop Style” and “Grammys” which features a striking verse from trap artist Future. On the production side, Drake’s in-house producer Noah “40” Shebib once again delivered with impressive use of samples on “Weston Road Flows” (“Mary’s Joint” by Mary J. Blige), “Fire & Desire” (shared name track by Rick James & Teena Marie), and most interesting of all an interpolation of “The New Orleans Bounce” on the playful and ludic track “Child’s Play”, a song about a relationship with a women whose main intentions and mannerisms are of a childish nature and materialistic endeavor (“You wildin', you super childish, you go to CVS for Kotex/In my Bugatti, I took the key and tried to hide it/So you can't drive it, and put on mileage/Then you find it, awkward silence...Don't make me give you back to the hood), supplementing a light-hearted impression on the album. Some of the more underwhelming tracks include “With You” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, “Views” featuring an into sample of The Winans “The Question Is” and “Too Good”, a milky duet with Rihanna. None of these tracks added any dimension to the album and further support the argument that it is simply too long and sticks to not even a loose theme. In fact, if Drake had any desire to create 3-4 different projects with the varying styles from the pickings on this album, he very well could and they would be well crafted creations. Views represents a tepid effort to move past the norm and exceed expectations, leaving an overshoot that is almost intimidating to unpack.
Best Songs: “Hotline Bling”/”Faithful”
Best Production: “Child’s Play”/”Weston Road Flows”