Wake up and smell the roses — Drake isn’t interested in making music for you to relate to. If you want somebody’s music to relate to, then listen to an up-and-coming indie artist who’s inevitably going to flop by 2024. Drake’s sixth studio album Certified Lover Boy is champagne poetry — it’s his ex-fling breaking the windshield of one of his Range Rovers and then having to see him post an Instagram story of a brand new one levels of pettiness. It’s a man who has been at the tippy-top of his respective sport for so long that he doesn’t have time to remember what life was like while scaling the mountain because he’s busy dodging subliminal threats, Venmoing strippers thousands of dollars, and doing promotions for Nike.
As far as any of the general Drake criticisms that have been apparent the last several years — his projects are too long, he doesn’t have a big enough “flow vocabulary,” etc., I'd like to address those quickly. Think of it like this…
Imagine walking up to LeBron James and saying, “Hey, man, you’re great, but I need you to do more. You aren’t doing enough for me right now. I know that you’re hitting fade-aways, backing dudes down, spotting up for 3 at a very effective rate, making Magic Johnson-level passes, finessing layups at 36-years-old like a supersized Kyrie Irving, and still doing the same tomahawk dunk that you’ve been doing since you were 16, but can’t you go a little harder on defense?”
Or telling Martin Scorsese that Goodfellas was too long like, “Hey Marty, this movie’s phenomenal, but do we really need that scene of Henry finding out about the Lufthansa heist?” That’s what people sound like while criticizing Drake. Armchair hoopers, directors, or rappers who have nothing better to do than find a way to criticize the greatest.
Why anyone was anticipating Aubrey “Drake” Graham to reinvent himself once again on an album titled CERTIFIED LOVER BOY is beyond me. This album — which has the most frightening Spotify animated cover of all-time — sees the same Drake that’s evolved bit-by-bit from So Far Gone to Scorpion. There have been minor reinventions and adjustments along the way, including the fact that Drake is both a father and a lesbian now, but isn't just any lesbian-father — he’s the one who glided over any and every adaptation of the hip-hop genre since 2009, all while being a medley-molding gold medalist. (Have you listened to 'WHERE YA AT?' or 'DIGITAL DASH' recently? I'm positively itching for What A Time to Be Alive 2.)
This guy has reinvented himself enough. He’s tried every accent in the book outside of that horrid redneck parody that Kendrick used on ‘FAMILY TIES.’ Drake’s made some of the best R&B, pop, dancehall, and hip-hop songs that the 21st century has to offer. He’s done reinventing himself. Look where it’s gotten him. His neighbor is Celine Dion. He’s head and shoulders above every other artist in the world statistically, logistically, and in terms of general popularity. Whether she admits it or not, your mom is listening to Certified Lover Boy this morning.
Drake's had a global audience now for so long that there are almost too many mouths to feed. He appeases to the dancehall heads who are still cha-chaing to ‘ONE DANCE,’ the old school hip-hop heads who swear Drake is at his best when he’s just plain spitting like he does on ‘7AM ON BRIDLE PATH,’ the DJs in Houston, Atlanta, and Las Vegas who need club anthems like ‘WAY 2 SEXY,’ the Kevin Durants and Safdie Brothers of the world with ‘FAIR TRADE,’ and ’N 2 DEEP.’ Enough of the current state of Drake though, let’s dive into this album one track at a time.
Every Drake-head knows that he utilizes the first chapter as a way to set the elegant dining table for the rest of the meal, and it often features two parts like ‘TUSCAN LEATHER’ did. How Drake manages to find a pocket to rap in on the ‘CHAMPAGNE POETRY’ instrumental is both impressive and concerning. Is this autotuned Siri sample really the best they could cook up over at OVO? Nevertheless, Drake glides over it flawlessly and delivers his bar-for-bar stamp on the intro.
“Look me in the eyes, junior,” Drake tells all of his rap children that he’s fostered and elevated. An absolutely hysterical premise for such a petty appetizer of a track.
“Girls Want Girls” with Lil Baby
Drake, you are not a lesbian. You are a 34-year old straight man. Aside from that, ‘GIRLS WANT GIRLS’ is perfect. Excellent work. I’d be upset about you wasting a Lil Baby feature on a track that isn’t a bonafide club smash, but you already so generously gave us ‘WANTS AND NEEDS,’ so I have zero complaints.
“In The Bible” with Lil Durk & Giveon
Are we done with the whole Giveon thing yet? Don’t get me wrong, I loved ‘CHICAGO FREESTYLE’ as much as the next midwestern 20-something-year-old, but his feature on ‘IN THE BIBLE’ is just a waste of real estate that could’ve been occupied by more Drake. Where Giveon fades, Lil Durk positively shines.
“Love All” with Jay-Z
At some point, you have to be too rich to keep rapping. Jay's living proof of that. He just doesn’t give a damn about the craft anymore. He could buy Picasso’s entire archive if he wanted to and comes home to Beyonce every night. I wouldn’t care either!
“Fair Trade” with Travis Scott
The best track on the album (minus Travis’s uninspired feature). When he really wants to, Drake can make other artists sound like amateurs. This is one of those moments where he’s operating like LeBron in the closing minutes of Game 5 of the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
“Way 2 Sexy” with Future and Young Thug
Allow me to set the scene. You’ve pregamed for roughly two hours and you’re roughly seven vodka-Sprites deep. You’ve ordered an Uber that refuses to change the radio from Eric Church's Pandora station. You arrive at the bar. You order a drink for you and your best friend. The moment that you two turn around from that bar, a record scratch interrupts yet another Rod Wave song, and ‘WAY 2 SEXY’ comes blaring over the speakers. It’s playing at a decibel threatening volume. Now, try and tell me that this song doesn’t make you want to do the freaky-deaky. Or just go home and rip it apart on Reddit. Either option is cool with me. We don’t need your negativity in the section anyways.
I don’t know about you, but I could listen to Drake’s sympathetic odes to strippers forever. I never got tired of the leak, and now I won’t ever get tired of the CDQ version.
“N 2 Deep” Part I
We’re just going to pretend like the first minute of this song doesn’t exist from now on, okay? However, once Drake takes off with the So Far Gone singing on an uninspiring instrumental, we’re moving into more comfortable territory. And then...