This post is part two in a series of two where I live react to two albums for the first time. If you want to read the setup/context then feel free to do so in the first part here. I will be skipping introductions on this one and going straight into the track list.
Champagne Poetry – This is…okay, wow this is a great introductory track. The first half of this was erring on the side of “okay, we get it, you’re Drake” in terms of lyrical content, but the second half where the beat changes and the subject matter takes a much more serious tone actually makes for something interesting. Interest is very much piqued, wonder where he’s going to go from here
Papi’s Home – I was a little confused as to who Drake was claiming that he was being…ugh…”Daddy” towards, until I realized about half way through that he’s basically saying he’s “sonned” other rappers and he’s their “Daddy”. Verse was pretty good, but the metaphor…really? Take you all day to come up with that one? Also, barf.
Girls Want Girls – Wait, wait, wait, WHAT? Did I hear this right? “Said you were a lesbian, girl me too”??? I’ve usually waited until after a track to jot down what I feel on these two pieces but I stopped this one 24 seconds in, I can’t just move past this, I genuinely don’t know what the fuck he means by this? Can anyone tell me?
Okay I looked it up, yeah that’s what he said. I…I just…I dont know. I’ll try to move on, let’s try this again.
I genuinely don’t understand what’s going on here. I mean if I had to guess, he’s going for “girl on girl is hot” but then adding this whole layer of him allegedly speaking to a lesbian and…I guess “relating” to her because he likes girls too? Look as someone who lives in Los Angeles and has met one too many “Omg the gays love me” straight women…this kind of gives me the same vibe. Except worse because I guess the implication here is that he’s trying to sleep with the aforementioned lesbian…and their “common ground” is “we’re both sexually attracted to women”? Dude I don’t know, I’ve spent too much time on this ONE track, but honestly moments like this, where he spits out some ridiculous thing that you find yourself thinking “he can’t be serious”, have defined recent Drake projects for me. This might be worse than the “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid” bullshit he managed to come up with.
In The Bible – Musically it’s not bad, in terms of the subject matter this thing takes a weird turn. The premise seemed to be about Drake feeling judged for having too many casual relationships…but then he turns it around on this hypothetical girl who is judging him with the oh so mature response of “well what about you”? Even if this wasn’t about two parties essentially slut shaming each other, not sure why he had to bring the Bible into this…did I miss when Drake suddenly got a say on what a Christian Woman should be like?
Love All – I feel “back on track” after this one, this seems like classic Drake to me. The vibe is really moody, he’s in his feelings, he’s questioning his relationships with friends/former romances/fans, he even manages to say one or two things of substance (He raps “People never care ’til it’s R.I.P.” and that definitely is understandable coming from someone of his level of fame, seeing talented people in hip-hop not be as appreciated until they pass away). So there’s something here, along with a nice JAY-Z verse to make this my favorite track on the album so far.
Fair Trade – Never mind what I just said about my favorite so far, this one is even better. Drake is here coming hard at his “fake friends”, not like that’s anything novel for him but he drops some decent bars with a solid flow, and I actually really like the melody on the hook. Travis also comes in with a solid verse where he’s actually rapping more than his usual auto-crooning, this is a good track.
Way 2 Sexy – Wow…this…happened. He really built a whole song around the hook from Right Said Fred’s “Im Too Sexy”. Yeah this one’s gonna be a “no” from me man. I feel like there may be a version of this concept that I can enjoy somewhere out there, but this just got strange. I tend to really like Future and Young Thug, but Future phoned it in hard here and Thug’s verse was pretty mid too.
TSU – Okay, I need to take a moment here and put into words/try to figure out why I can’t deal with Drake’s songs directed at seemingly random women anymore…because this is the 3rd time on this album that I’ve felt grossed out, and honestly that doesn’t happen to me often.
Drake has always had rather “intense” feelings towards the girls in his songs, but I’ve always just kind of taken those things with a grain of salt. I used to think “Drake talking about his failed relationships” would be one of those tropes I never really get tired of, but I don’t know why its just not working for me here. Maybe it’s just gotten stupider? Like think of the vibe on the songs “Take Care”, “Too Good”, “Passionfruit”…there’s something there, right? He actually takes time to unpack what went wrong in the relationship, takes his own blame, etc, so maybe it’s gotten more immature lately? Actually I don’t think thats necessarily correct, even on the Take Care album, songs like “Shot For Me” and “Marvin’s Room” are ugly if you take a real look at it, but I don’t seem to mind even if I heard them now. So what gives? Why have “Girls Want Girls”, “In the Bible”, and “TSU” just made me feel like I need a shower? I’m going to try to wrap up this train of thought at the end, this tangent has already gone on a while.
N 2 Deep – I like it. It’s definitely embodying some really toxic energy, but it’s being done in a way that actually has something to say, and it looks like remorse and covered-up-feelings are both really at play in the way he’s structured it. The beat switch up is nice, still not a great Future verse but much better than “Way 2 Sexy”.
Pipe Down – I think after the last track and this one, I may have come closer to finding the answer to the tangent I went off on in the “TSU” section. More to come, but just as far as the track goes, I like it.
Yebba’s Heartbreak – Solid interlude
No Friends In The Industry – Goes pretty hard, but at some point we’re going to have too many songs on this album about Drake having mistrust of people around him & doubting everyone’s loyalty. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to relate thematically to these failed relationships/casual sexual encounters he’s talked about so far. Maybe it is, but it’s not connecting too well.
Knife Talk – Okay this is hot, 21 Savage bodied this one. No surprise that Metro Boomin has production credits on this one.
7am On Bridle Path – Guess its safe to say that if its a Drake song with a time and place in it, its going to be a pretty hard, observational, personal declaration with some decent bars. In this one its pretty obvious he’s addressing the Kanye beef.
Race My Mind – I appreciate the Rick James interpolation, but that might be the only thing making this one not totally mid.
Fountains – It’s okay
Get Along Better – The vibe on this track is what I expected from Drake on an album called “Certified Lover Boy”, I liked this a lot until I remembered that I’ve definitely heard something like this from Drake before…and I think in that, we discover this album’s biggest weakness (aside from calling himself a lesbian). To be elaborated on at the wrap-up section.
You Only Live Twice – Rick Ross and Lil Wayne went off, but I got barely anything from Drake himself here. I know its funny that he popularized YOLO and now has a song called “You Only Live Twice”, and this one is fine, just didn’t feel anything that particularly stood out on his end.
IMY2 – Cool that he had Kid Cudi take the lead on this one, its fine overall.
Fucking Fans – Aaaaaand I’m back to feeling gross. God, Drake sounds like a giant egomaniac on this one…which I didn’t think was possible after I just finished a fucking KANYE album.
The Remorse – I think he was trying to end this album that’s about people who have been disloyal to him with a track giving some love to those who did stay around…but he manages to make it more so about him. Not the strongest note to end on, especially after the last one.
Well…it’s better than Scorpion at least, but that’s not a very high bar so lets actually get into this one. In the reaction section, I went on two tangents that I can wrap up now that tie into what I feel overall.
The first was why almost all the songs he’s directed towards women he’s interested in or are ex-lovers/partners in this album have felt wrong to me. Think about a song like “Take Care” or “Passionfruit” for a second, let it play back in your head. On these tracks, Drake put a lot of emotion behind his words, and through his delivery it just feels way more real and substantive. I mentioned even uglier songs from his earlier discography didn’t make me feel as bad as recent ones have, and that’s because of the delivery again. In my opinion, in tracks like “Marvin’s Room”, he was very well aware that the macho-act he was putting on was fake. The way he wrote and delivered those songs, there was some self-awareness there. He knew he was being kind of pathetic…and in that feeling is where he became oddly compelling. He was being honest about how he felt, masked it by talking about how great he is, but also gave off the impression that he knows he’s in the wrong, that his obsession with his grandeur is a crutch, and that he secretly wishes he could trade it all in for some honest experiences with girl he’s singing about.
At some point, though, the delivery started feeling like less of an act and more of Drake actually having these delusions where he’s in the right with these women he’s wronging. The douchebaggery started taking the place of any actual vulnerability or feeling, and then at that point it was just “guy passive-aggressively being a dick”. Think of “Child’s Play” from Views; I know we all joke about the “Cheesecake” line, but this whole song’s premise is really messed up. The whole “I’m rich and successful and you should feel lucky that I’m dating a girl like you who isn’t accustomed to this life, but if you don’t stop ‘acting up’ then I’m going to send you back to the hood” is so wildly absurd, and is so devoid of anything genuine because of how “reality TV” it sounds. After years of sounding like a young guy trying, failing, regretting, and learning from love…instead he managed to sound like a rich asshole who targets a certain kind of woman in hopes that she could be more subservient to him.
THAT’s the kind of disgusting feeling I got on certain tracks on this album. Others sounded a lot more genuine which you can see from my live reactions, and its not like this is happening EVERY single time Drake talks about a girl. Its just that the bad vibes have been coming up more often the more music he puts out, and Drake’s delivery is getting more stale, which brings me to a good segue into wrapping up the other tangent I went on.
There’s nothing particularly novel about this album compared to his work since Views. Even though I may have liked tracks on this album, the project overall seems uninspired. Does there need to be constant pressure on artists, especially ones as successful as Drake, to push the envelope with every project? No, I think that’s being a little too idealistic. Did he accomplish what he marketed, a “return to form” after Scorpion? Sure, in a way I feel like he did.
All of that is fine, but when you give a listener the same overall blend of atmospheric elements as your last two major releases (Views and Scorpion), more of the flaws in the formula tend to be revealed, and this is already the third time in a row that I’ve walked away with the same general feeling from a major Drake release.
For that reasoning alone…I feel like Kanye wins this round. I know I started this whole thing with the premise of pitting the two projects together, but in reality you should just listen to what you prefer, and they can both just be “good albums”.
I set out to make my decision as an objective music fan, but even me arguing that the themes and tracks on Donda leave me with more than Certified Lover Boy does can still be seen as subjective. I don’t think its a “crime against humanity” if you prefer Drake here, if that’s your thing, then go for it. However, when it comes to the official Soggz-Blogs decision, Donda was the better album and the one I’ll be revisiting a lot more.