Drake has released his fifth studio album, Scorpion a two-disc, 25-track release that clocks in at a daunting 90 minutes.
It comes with a pretty hilarious cover, which has a throwback feel and consists of a signed picture of Drake in monochrome.
Scorpion is low on featuring credits, with Jay Z, Ty Dolla $ign and Static Major appearing on tracks alongside the posthumous vocals of Michael Jackson. Producers who worked on the album include long-serving Drake collaborators Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1da.
It comes with an editor's note, which appears to attempt to pre-empt the usual criticisms that dog the rapper:
I HATE WHEN DRAKE RAPS
DRAKE SINGS TOO MUCH
DRAKE IS A POP ARTIST
DRAKE DOESN’T EVEN WRITE HIS OWN SONGS
DRAKE TOOK AN L
DRAKE DIDN’T START FROM THE BOTTOM
DRAKE IS FINISHED
I LIKE DRAKE'S OLDER STUFF
DRAKE MAKES MUSIC FOR GIRLS
DRAKE THINKS HE’S JAMAICAN
DRAKE IS AN ACTOR
ANYBODY ELSE > DRAKE …
YEAH YEAH WE KNOW
Here follows some first impressions of the album track-by-track as we spin it for the first time. Settle in its going to be a long ride (please allow a moment for the live blog to load).
Scorpion is streaming now on Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
No screwing around, a classic luxury Drake beat drops immediately before the man himself comes in with a verse that sets the scene. 'Survival' finds Drake attacked from all sides by less successful rappers. Some are just flexing, while others are "gamblin' with they life for some content".
Drake appears to hint at having experienced suicidal thoughts during this run:
Think my soul has been marked, there's a hole in my heart
Yeah, I was about to—
Man, I thought about it
It's unsettlin' to talk about it
But for the most part is energised and focused, ready to knock back challengers with new music for the thousandth time.
Side-note: 'My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions' - I really hope this actually gets made as a promo stunt for the album
Drake bears his teeth, demanding "give me my respect" after taking so many shots lately, and countering "yeah I’m light skinned, but I’m still a dark n***a".
The beat is one of those ones you want to drive a sports car through a tunnel at night to, centering around a mean deep bass groove and backed by pretty conventional trap hi-hats. The hook is a little unusual though in that it's almost inaudible, the "fuck all that chicken shit" sample being incredibly fuzzy/distorted. It feels like an intentional reaction to the whole 'he just makes music for the clubs' criticism, as this is definitely not a singalong chorus.
Goddamn these vocals are recorded well, it sounds like Drake's actually inside my head spitting bars.
A confident start to the album, though not exactly a huge departure.
'Elevate' is the kind of song title that could have been written by a Drake song title generator. It's a 'singing track', as Young Thug would say, Drake alternating between percussive rap and melody as he surveys the lavish life and empire he has built, while still setting his sights on yet higher echelons.
This track could easily have been on What A Time To Be Alive, and doesn't really push Drake's sound forward in any way. It's a part of a wider trend I think; trap beats are starting to feel clapped out, every possible pattern of hi-hats exhausted. Kanye's ye struggled to feel fresh in this regard too, though A$AP Rocky's hugely underrated Testing is probably my favourite mainstream hip-hop release of the last few months, way more experimental and sonically boundary-pushing than Scorpion (at least so far).
Right, okay, this is bananas.
Drake details at length the woes of social media and modern life - "girls that save pictures from places she's flown to post later and make it look like she still on the go", people scrolling and "starin' at somebody else's version of shit" etc, before.........using this as the reasoning for hiding the rumoured secret child!
Look at the way we live I wasn't hiding my kid from the world I was hiding the world from my kid
The child in question was brought up by Pusha T when their beef turned very nasty and personal, this only happened very recently so Drake must have scrambled to put this track together.
He goes on to say that he didn't want his child in the news, and "the only ones I wanna tell are the ones I can call".
They always ask, "Why let the story run if it's false?" You know a wise man once said nothin' at all
I guess there's some logic here, but it sounds a lot like Drake's hurriedly tried to put together an explanation. Whether he needed to is another matter - your private life is your private life, though I guess when you've turned your private life into your art there's a deceit in hiding major life events? Idk, it's a rap album!
Mariah Carey is sampled on this track, a piano taking it to church.
Just a thought, has Drake ever written a song that's not from the perspective of Drake? 😂
Four down, 21 to go. I fully support Kanye trying to make seven-track albums happen.
5. God's Plan and 6. I'm Upset
The subject matter was getting pretty heavy so early on in the album, so Drake has stuck the previously-released singles next.
There isn't really a need to go into them as there isn't a human alive who hasn't already heard 'God's Plan' bleeding out of a car window at a junction 11,000 times, but 'I'm Upset's discussion of alimony and women allegedly out to get his money has an interesting new relevance in light of his confession on 'Emotionless'.
7. 8 out of 10
A rare bit of a cappella from Drizzy and a different kind of flow. I can get onboard with the beat that comes in after this intro, kind of reminiscent of Late Registration-era Kanye. It has a positive, major chord feel, which is why it's pretty fun when at 0:28 there's the brief introduction of a rogue, dark, minor note which throws things off.
The theme of the song is essentially 'say what you will but at the end of the day I'm still bringing bangers.' The chorus is aimed at his rivals in general, but it definitely serves as a comeback to Pusha T's verbal assault:
Drizzy 'bout to drop, the game is in disarray I'd tell you hear me out but we both know end of the day Your sister is pressin' play Your trainer is pressin' play Your wifey, your wifey, your wifey, your wifey...
There's a more direct rebuke to Push in the second verse, and he seems keen to close the door on that chapter:
Kiss my son on the forehead then kiss your ass goodbye As luck would have it I've settled into my role as the good guy
The track ends with a lengthy sample of a video posted by rapper Plies that became a meme, and makes a lot of sense given it extols two things Drake loves: money and requesting to be left alone.
8. Mob Ties
Some nice production from Boi-1da (who was behind the smash 'Know Yourself') on this one, the song I'm most likely to return to so far. The melody sounds like it was taken from a point-and-click mystery video game, in a good way! Travis Scott is knocking about, presumably originally down for a verse, but his involvement is ultimately limited to a couple of "skrrt skrrrrrr"s.
Lyrically, Drake talks up OVO's supposed mob ties, because you've gotta latch onto some street credibility wherever you can find it!
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