Drake underwhelms with ‘Views’

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Drake underwhelms with ‘Views’

Fair use image from OVO Sound

Fair use image from OVO Sound

Fair use image from OVO Sound

Conor Battles, Editor-in-Chief, Arts & Entertainments Editor

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The eyes of the world are on Toronto.

Drake reps his hometown with a ferocious loyalty not seen since Biggie and New York or Prince and Minneapolis. His influence has turned The Queen City into one of the eminent tastemakers in the modern music scene. It’s easy to see how – his ability to tap into the tastes of the masses and deliver pop-rap that pleases radio listeners and old heads alike is unrivaled. But to make the turn from curator to iconoclast requires one last miracle: the coveted Classic Album.

The buildup to his latest and fourth release, Views, has hyped it up to be just that. Three years have elapsed since Nothing Was the Same, and he has used that gap to build the framework for a legacy. A surprise mixtape-turned-album, a hilariously one-sided beef with Meek Mill, and a collaboration with trap darling Future made 2015 an eventful year in the Drake canon, and it all led to a Thursday night Beats Radio premiere of Views last month. With such a lengthy buildup, it’s no wonder the end product feels so…underwhelming.

Make no mistake, the highlights of Views are among Drake’s strongest tracks. “Weston Road Flows,” Summer Sixteen,” and Rihanna collaboration “Too Good” are superbly-crafted, merging longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib’s icy, atmospheric instrumentals with hard bars, soaring hooks and impeccable guest features. Atlanta rap legend Pimp C steals the show on “Faithful,” while fellow Torontonian PARTYNEXTDOOR feels right at home going back-and-forth with Drake on “With You.”

A notable absence from the album is The Throne, the shared name of Kanye West and Jay-Z who surprised the world with an appearance on Views’ lead single, “Pop Style.” On the album version of the track, however, the duo are mysteriously absent. Drake’s sense of perfectionist quality control, changing everything from featured artists to the album’s title, leads to a breakdown in the ultimate cohesion of the album.

Ultimately, Views falls short of greatness. Drake has portrayed this release as his evolution; an expansion on his signature sound that would propel him towards legend status. It’s reflected in the album’s cover – Drake, solitary and sullen above the rest of the world, poised to strike from atop the CN Tower. In the end, though, Views is enjoyable, but more of the same.

Views is a good album full of surefire hits – it’s Drake, of course it is. But considering its potential, its background, its creator, it could have been so much more. This was Drake’s moment, his opportunity to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle zeitgeist of “Hotline Bling,” of “Summer Sixteen,” of “Jumpman,” but it feels like lateral movement: safe, expected, toothless.


6/10

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