Drake, the unhappy boy, pop-rap hit single machine, is again. Really, it’s like he’s by no means been away. Everything a fan would need from a Drake album is right here on Certified Lover Boy. That’s sort of the issue.
The precocious celebrity has at all times worn his desperation to be appreciated – by each his friends and his followers – on his sleeve. The end result? All too usually, a blatant self-awareness that wrings any authenticity from his music. Drake needs to cater to everybody and anybody. On Certified Lover Boy, it totals as much as a broad, base degree, bloated slog by way of practically 90 minutes of him replicating the components that has made him each a chart topper and a meme God – a standing he references on Beatles-sampling opening monitor, “Champagne Poetry”.
There are moments of electrical energy. “Knife Talk” with 21 Savage and Project Pet is a severely infectious little bit of highway rap. Over producer Metro Boomin’s piano wizardry there’s a way that Drake is striving to be greater than the metronomic, punch line spitter he’s often called. “7am On Bridle Path” is an train in simply what the Canadian can do when he relaxes into focus. On this explicit tune, the sniper scope is aimed toward longtime frenemy Kanye West, who appeared to publish Drake’s deal with on Instagram final month. “Give that address to your driver, make it your destination/ Instead of just a post out of desperation/ This me reachin’ the deepest state of my meditation/ Why you over there tryna impress the nation?/ Minds runnin’ wild with the speculation,” Drake raps, mocking his one-time idol and collaborator. Simultaneously solipsistic and self-effacing, he reminds us on this monitor of a previous greatness, one which has been on the wane since 2013’s Nothing Was the Same.
Kid Cudi collaboration “IMY2” is an train in susceptible masculinity. Cudi swoons over scattering hi-hats because the pair swap harmonised bars. It borders on transcendental. But the highlights solely emphasise the vacancy of the remainder of the album – at 21 tracks lengthy, that’s an entire lot of filler. There are rote punchlines so grating even Eminem would balk at them, none worse than “Say that you’re a lesbian, girl me too” on the bisexual fetishising of “Girls Like Girls”. “Way 2 Sexy” turns Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” right into a strip membership lure anthem that can have you ever wishing you have been locked in a warehouse with Mr Blonde. Not even Future, able to pulling off probably the most ridiculous of strains, can save his associate in rhyme right here.
Elsewhere, it’s a lot of the identical. “No Friends in the Industry” appears to have been made with the only intention of being 2021’s most used Instagram caption. “Love All”, which options Jay Z is drumless inertia. “Get Along Better” is the precise tune individuals who hate Drake suppose each Drake tune feels like.
There is additionally an R Kelly-sized elephant within the room. On “TCU”, the accused sexual predator – presently on trial in New York – is credited as a composer as a result of the tune interpolates the sound results from his 1997 hit “Half on a Baby”. It marks a nadir in hip hop’s apathy in direction of ladies that the 2 largest releases of the 12 months (Certified Lover Boy and Kanye West’s Donda dropped inside days of one another) appear to near-on enjoyment of internet hosting accused abusers. The Kelly pattern appears significantly egregious given Drake is a famous fan of the late singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly illegally married when she was underage. Drake even has a tattoo of her on his again, and appeared on a posthumous collaboration, “Enough Said”, in 2012.
Certified Lover Boy’s greatest crime is simply how bland and boring it is. There’s little or no right here that Drake has not performed higher or extra emphatically elsewhere; his album is disadvantaged of any sort of experimentation or perception. He rose to the highest baring his soul. Now it appears like there’s no soul to reveal.