Drake wants a classic album. In a way, Drake
needs a classic album. Is he already the most commercially successful rapper of
this decade? Yes, and he seems to be on his way to being number one all time
when it’s all said and done. He has 100’s of Billboard hits and can churn out
dozens per project. His solo releases usually sell at least 500,000 copies in
their first week and Views From the 6 could go platinum in a week. Platinum in one week. Few artists have ever had that much popularity and momentum at once to achieve such, even more difficult with the decline of physical copies. That is the level that Aubrey Graham has ascended
to, a Pop-Rap megastar that seems to climb even higher every year. However, if
you ask around music circles and push past the casual hip-hop listener, you’ll
find pundits clamoring for a classic LP. Take Care and Nothing Was the Same are
well crafted albums with ambient production, admirable lyrical themes, and hit
songs throughout, but lack the ambiguity, experimentation, and a sense of
master-of-the-craft that go along with critically acclaimed albums that stand
the test of time (See Beyonce’s Lemonade). Not that all classic albums follow that formula, but classic LP’s tend to stand out through excellence in some form. Drake knows that and that is why the build up to Views has been more immense than ever before. With the album less than 48 hours away, evaluating some clues to the release will be a good prelude to the music we’ll hear. In a way, the scenario could not have been scripted better. After a 2014 that saw Drake relatively quiet with the exception of “0-100/The Catch Up”, Drake stormed into 2015 with a vengeance. His early year release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which has since gone platinum, previewed the darker sound Drake has been creeping towards. All the songs on the album charted and it seemed like another pretty good year for Drake. Except summer 2015 happened and takeover had commenced. The widely known beef resulted in “Back to Back”, a diss song so scathing and popular many listeners disregarded the ghost writing allegations. He then capitalized on Future’s popularity and released the collaboration mixtape What a Time to be Alive. To top it off, “Hotline Bling”, a loose remix, became Drake’s most popular song ever and dominated the end of 2015. With all that momentum, Views anticipation has gone through the roof. Despite all that, hip-hop heads and music critics are not satisfied. Not when Drake’s
cold war nemesis Kendrick Lamar dropped one of the best albums in recent music
history. To Pimp a Butterfly is having an indirect influence on the buzz behind Drake’s newest album and Drake knows it. Kendrick simply delivered too good of a concept album, too good of
production, too good of storytelling, too good of visuals. In the process, the
bar was raised for everyone in hip-hop, even the 6 God. Plus, that makes for
two classics for Kendrick, and maybe one for Drake. That’s why Drake has been
experimenting with a sound that pushes past his usual formula. He has to show
people this isn’t the same old Drake and that his sound can be as experimental as
a Kanye or Kendrick. Drake is a known borrower, wave-rider even, but recently
his sound has expanded to all corners of the globe; Nigeria for WizKid, London
for Skepta, the Caribbean dancehall music, etc. The clues tell us he wants to
touch on Toronto’s affluent melting-pot makeup on this album while also
providing a soundtrack for the city. Drake also wants a number one on the Billboard
Hot 100
. “Hotline Bling” was close, and he achieved the feat as a guest on Rihanna’s “Work”, but he said himself that it would be the biggest accomplishment of his career to date. Views
could accomplish so many milestones in one for such an already enormous artist,
it’s ridiculous. “One Dance” is clearly his attempt for that top spot and it’s
well on its way to achieving that. As far as the music is concerned, Drake has
said he needed to collaborate with Noah “40” Shebib to make the album he wanted
to make. In an interview with The New York Times, 40 vaguely referenced what
would be on the album. In particular though, three quotes stuck out, “It’s
going to be what everybody expects and wants from Drake and from us”, “A lot of
introspection, very vivid. He’s discovering new flows, new cadences, new
patterns” and “It’s going to be what everybody expects and wants from Drake and
from us.” That says that Drake isn’t going to alienate his traditional fans and
knows he needs to appeal to them the most, but he is experimenting. A
combination of experimentation and traditional Drake makes for, “One Dance”?
Dancehall and foreign features (experimentation) mixed with the pop-smash radio-friendly
approach (traditional). In addition to an experimental sound, rumor has it that
Drake will be attempting the incredibly difficult double album. As he said himself,
there will be “like 20 songs”, so that gives us a barometer on the length and
depth of Views. In his short trailer for the album, Drake hints at returning to his acting days with reference to his former career and Degrassi. An accompanying documentary and possible short
film is certainly a possibility, especially with an album rollout this extensive. The cover art is the last revealing clue to Views. Sitting on the CN Tower, the tallest structure in the city and it’s most remarkable landmark is symbolic in every form. It’s a dedication
to Toronto, as is the album title. The clouds are dark, further hinting towards
the dark sound his music has been evolving into (possibly one half of the two disc
album will be dark bangers ala “Pop Style”). Surprisingly, In contrast to all
his other album covers, Drake is miniscule. He sits on the tower, as if not to
famous for the city that molded him and as if he is the king and the tower is
his throne. All of the clues may well be telling or irrelevant in the grand
scheme of the album, but Drake has made it a maze of sorts to the destination
that is Views. Expect pop hits, expect bangers, expect sneak disses, expect a loose concept story, expect a lot of music and hopefully, expect Drake’s best album yet.