Drake – Certified Lover Boy (One Year Later)

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A full year has past since the drop of the incredibly hyped Certified Lover Boy. After multiple delays, its arrival came with some lukewarm reception. Despite this, it still remains one of Drake’s better works of recent. It might have not met the expectations of many, but its far from his worst record.

For starters, “Champagne Poetry” is a quintessential Drake track. Easily one of his best intros in a long time, the minimally produced beat sees Drake opening the album with maximum vulnerability. He addresses all current ongoing events, from his son to the beef with Kanye. Its a perfectly delivered update on his life against the beautiful backdrop of a beat. It is complete with an immaculate beat switch that changes when he continues to deliver flawlessly. Its a moment that proves this won’t be some shoddy release like Dark Lane Demo Tapes, but a reintroduction to album mode.

Drake – Champagne Poetry

He plays off the album title on “Papi’s Home,” which immediately reveals why its titled this in the first place. Drake recognizes his influence in the industry & fully embraces it, proclaiming that he is everyone’s father. This claim is supported by Nicki’s outro in the end of the track, who’s gimmick has always been to claim that these other rappers are her sons. Its a flex few can claim, and at his level of success, he’s fully able to pull it off.

A track that seems to have gone under the radar for many despite the length of time since its release is “N 2 Deep.” The track features this gritty guitar with the occasional spacy synth that adds immense atmosphere to the track. He delivers these Houston influenced lyrics that don’t even feel like his usual writing, seeing him outside his usual pocket.

I just touched the city with the G-block stainers

And we got it adopted by some fifth ward strangers

You know what it means when I twist these fingers

Drake – N 2 Deep (ft. Future)

This builds until its payoff with a switch into a Future feature, where he throws everything away for another woman. The track is cinematic, capturing a dark & gloomy night in Houston club scene. Future’s feature is the cherry on top, as anything he touches is a club hit. Its this level of transparency that makes Drake’s music relatable on a level like no other artist.

The album is filled with highlights, from the phenomenal Jay-Z feature to the return of him & Lil Wayne, but this also showcases the problem. Its tracklist is far too long, spanning close to an hour & a half run time. These moments of highlights get lost within the weaker tracks of the album, its an album that would benefit without the odd tracks like “F*****g Fans.”

Drake – You Only Live Twice (ft. Lil Wayne & Rick Ross)

Unfortunately, the album never seems to be able to reach the heights of his best works like Nothing Was The Same or Take Care. This isn’t exactly his fault, its hard to reach the same heights & recapture such as specific place & time, but there is a clear difference from the music then versus now. His flow has slightly changed over time, he doesn’t have the same level of energy in his voice anymore. Its Kanye focus within the album does also damp its own artistic merit, feeling like a constant response to him rather than his own clear vision.

If you were not a Drake fan prior, its not the album for you. There’s nothing here he does that changes the landscape of hip hop or chase trends, but what he does is prove he’s still here. He still has a foothold in the industry & can make a truly engaging album. With constant talk about if Drake is washed, this album solidifies he still has a strong career ahead of him with more to say.

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