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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
After an EP and two albums that firmly established his moody, introspective style and made him a huge star, Drake's third album, Nothing Was the Same, isn't a huge departure but it does take some steps in new directions. Built around sped-up samples and Wu-Tang-inspired, spooky loops, the production retains the same basic style, but is a little deeper and more foreboding. Provided mostly by longtime collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, the backing is suitably melancholic and claustrophobic enough to match Drake's main lyrical themes of angry boasting, dealing with a broken heart, and being disillusioned by the lifestyle his fame has brought him. This time out, Drake adds to his list of family issues, as a couple tracks deal with re-establishing a relationship with his father and worrying about his mom. It's good to hear him reaching out a little and expanding his concerns because his usual topics are wearing thin, especially the boasting. "Started from the Bottom" is the main offender, since the idea of Drake starting from the bottom is a little ridiculous. If growing up well-off, starring in a TV series, and hooking up early with Weezy is the bottom, we should all want to start off there. It's hard to entirely write off this song, and the others that focus on his greatness, since the music is so evocative and because Drake's basic persona is still appealing. "Too Much," in particular, is a brilliant combination of brag rap and quiet storm balladry that features a simply heartbreaking vocal from Sampha. The tracks that work the best on Nothing are the slow-to-the-point-of-being-static ballads like "Own It," "Connect," and "305 to My City," which feel like the late-night emotional outpourings of a truly sad soul; the songs that bubble with raw emotion and are balanced against very dark loops, like "Wu-Tang Forever"; and the one song that has some uptempo punch, the very poppy R&B groover "Hold on, We're Going Home." That last one shows that Drake could make great left-field R&B if he wanted to, and is a nice contrast to all the angry talk and bitter introspection that fill the rest of the record. As impressive as it is that Drake has become a star while making records that are mostly joyless and twisted up by emotions, it might be nice to hear him loosening up and having some fun now and then. As far as this album goes, though, it's not much fun but it is worth exploring if you've been following Drake's progression up till now. Nothing Was the Same doesn't show large amounts of growth, but the small changes to the sound and the slightly wider net his lyrics cast make it worthwhile. Plus, there aren't many other rappers who do gloom as well as Drake and that's something worth supporting, if only because it's something different than the hip-hop norm in 2013. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 12, 2015 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
After a typically busy and fascinating 2014, Drake's 2015 started off much the same way. His chart-topping "album" If You're Reading This It's Too Late started off life as a free mixtape, but his label Cash Money stepped in at the last minute and changed it to a full-priced release. This move came amid reports that Drake was ready to follow his mentor Lil Wayne and leave Cash Money because of money issues. The album's number of references to not getting paid by his label shows that even if the rumors end up being false, Drake was plenty upset with Birdman and his business practices while he was recording this tape. Drake is also mad at women trying to play him for a fool, rappers who diss him, and people who think he's soft. Par for the course for a Drake album lately, but the difference here is that there are no pop singles to balance the claustrophobic rants. There are also no huge radio hooks, and most of the album sounds like it was cooked up (mostly by old mates Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1da) during sleepless nights behind drawn blinds, with more dank atmosphere than the coach cabin of a passenger jet after an 18-hour flight. His raps sport the same snappy wordplay as usual, but Drake sounds like he's rapping to himself this time out, trying to work out issues and feelings instead of broadcasting to the world. He occasionally breaks out of the murk to make some noise, like on the strutting "6 God," but mostly he keeps his head down and the mood subdued. It makes for an album that's hard to love right away, but if you stick with it, is a rewarding listen. Especially at the end of the mixtape/album when Drake drops three songs that would have been highlights on any of his albums (or anyone's albums for that matter). The heartbreaking conversation with/ode to his mother "You & the 6," the slow-motion Prince-inspired R&B ballad "Jungle," and the swaggering "6PM in New York" sound like the core of what could have been his best album. As it is, they are a stunningly good coda to a very confusing detour in his career. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 29, 2018 | Republic Records

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Carried by the juggernauts “God’s Plan” and “Nice For What”, Drake is releasing his fifth album, Scorpion. Coming off of his uneven Views and his eclectic playlist More Life, the Toronto artist offers a complete panel of 25 tracks spread over two sides like an old vinyl or a dusty tape. Drake is trying to explore all the angles of his musical personality, with a first ensemble focused on rap, and the other edging towards pop. In “Scorpion”, Drake is also trying to encompass his entire dynasty, and invited his two long-time role models to the party: Jay-Z for a red-hot verse and Michael Jackson on a ghostly melody. Darker and sharper in the first part, Drake reaches later on a few radiant moments like “Blue Tint” and “Ratchet Happy Birthday”. But for the first time in many years, the worldwide musical emperor appears to falter on his throne and offers a glimpse into a few fragile moments. Following Pusha T’s repeated attacks, Drake recognises his paternity maybe sooner than he initially intended. And while he often claims to be “Emotionless”, Aubrey Graham here proves he can’t always be in control. He appears urgent on the “Nonstop” borrowed from Blocboy JB, nostalgic on the soulful “8 out of 10” and annoyed on the catchy “Sandra’s Rose”, produced by DJ Premier. Bit by bit, he’s always trying to prove his legitimacy, justifying his success, his accomplishments. Scorpion marks a turning point in his discography, a transition with a few flashes and short-winded moments that scratch the surface of the artist’s personality. Throughout the album, Drake doesn’t directly address his critics, but provides a lot of information about his position and state of mind. Slick but tormented. The best Canadian mix.© Aurélien Chapuis/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 3, 2021 | OVO

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After a long run-up that included videos with impressive cameos, fancy hairstyles, and knee surgery, when Drake's Certified Lover Boy was released, it came in at an epic length of 21 songs and was packed with a glittering array of guest stars from across the rap spectrum, including Lil Durk, Lil Baby, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Future, Young Thug, Travis Scott, and Jay-Z. As with most of his releases since he discovered trap, a majority of the songs plod along slowly while Drake weaves tales of his own greatness; his prowess as a lover, father, and athlete; and how people are doing him dirty, all in a voice that wavers between laid-back vibes and played-out boredom. Only a few stand out from the grind. The album opener, "Champagne Poetry," contrasts a sped-up Beatles sample ("Michelle") with an off-kilter bassline, then segues into a joyous gospel sample as Drake revs up his flow and actually sounds invested in the song. The first half of "N 2 Deep" forgoes trap clichés for some metallic guitar riffing and twinkling synths before it succumbs to the inevitable slow-motion beats; "Pipe Down" is a strong R&B groove with swirling vocal samples, rumbling drum fills, and orchestra hits; and "Race My Mind" is a trippy late-night electro-soul ballad and a reminder that Drake is a better singer than he is a rapper. The sunny "Fountains" adds some African funk to the mix and ends up being one of the album's highlights, thanks to some help from vocalist Tems. The record's most exciting song is the throwback jam "You Only Live Twice," which blasts away like a Bad Boy classic and features hugely entertaining verses from Rick Ross and Lil Wayne that overshadow Drake's predictable rhymes. This dynamic repeats throughout the record as guests pop by and raise the stakes. Jay-Z swoops in for a swaggering verse on "Love All," 21 Savage adds some grit to the otherwise cartoonish "Knife Talk," Young Thug's yearning vocals add some soul to "Get Along Better," and Travis Scott gives a lesson on how to sound intense without raising your voice on "Fair Trade." It's no shame for Drake to be outclassed by some of the best rappers around, but it is a shame that one starts to dread the songs without features because then all that's left is Drake and his far-too-familiar lyrical concerns and mostly tedious style. Boil the record down to a handful of Drake solo cuts -- making sure to include the one or two that break the trap mold -- and the best of the features, and Certified Lover Boy would get a passing grade. As it stands, the album is an overlong, undercooked, and clichéd listen that will no doubt appeal to the Drake fans who can't get enough of him, but will leave anyone looking for something new sadly out of luck. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 29, 2016 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

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Since the release of his last non-mixtape/non-collaboration album in 2013, Drake has solidified his position as a pop music icon, scaling the charts, dominating gossip columns, and generally living the good life. Or so it seems. 2016's Views is another in a string of dour transmissions from the dark night of Drake's soul. As before, he casts himself as both the melancholy bachelor looking out over the city from his penthouse manor, and the criminally underrated rap genius demanding his due, and it's one album too many for both personas. He's already delved deeply into his insecurities, lambasted all his exes, and displayed his fierce self-pride, never shying away from telling everyone exactly where he started and how far he's come. Frankly, it's become as boring and annoying as a needle stuck in a groove. No matter how ably the production casts his raps and ballads in the best possible light, no matter how well the frequent use of chopped and swirled samples from '90s R&B songs fit in the mix, no matter that the occasional song rises up from the narrative and makes a splash, the album is a meandering, dreary rehash of what Drake has done before in much better fashion. Of the songs that stand out, his uptempo, Caribbean-flavored duet with Rihanna ("Too Good") is the most enjoyable; "One Dance," another song with a Jamaican dancehall feel, is another fun track. Still, these poppy moments feature Drake as the wounded lover, being treated poorly yet again. A few other tracks connect, like the almost light-hearted "Feel No Ways," which makes good use of a stuttering Malcolm McLaren sample or, of course, the hugely catchy hit song "Hotline Bling." The nostalgic "Weston Road Flows" comes close, with the great Mary J. Blige sample running through the track, but stumbles when Drake name drops Katy Perry and brags about wrecking marriages. The track, like so many others made up of over-blown boasts, seems to be fighting a battle that was won long ago. Drake has not only arrived, he's taken over. And if he's never going to get the same respect that someone like Chance the Rapper gets, making records as self-pitying and self-serving as Views isn't going to do much to further Drake's career artistically, either. Basically, Drake needs to lighten up and add some new colors to the paintbox, whether it’s songs about something other than his bummer love life (like the good times before the inevitable breakup), or the fabulous things that come from all the money and fame he never lets anyone forget he's accrued. Eventually, people will get tired of the same old song if it's sung too often. On Views, Drake is starting to sound a little weary of it himself. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 1, 2020 | OVO

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Since the 2010s undeniably belonged to Drake, the dominant figure in pop music, sales and impact, the way in which he would kick off the the 20s was highly anticipated. With Dark Lane Demo Tapes, his most recent mixtape since More Life released three years before (and between the two, the album Scorpion), the Toronto native’s game-plan is clear: directly address the listener with a certain romanticism, invite along some heavyweights (Future, Playboi Carti and even Chris Brown), and take the opportunity to settle some scores. There’re few surprises on this new project, and after all, why must there be? Drake is in autopilot and what we are have here is an offering to fans. Despite strong tracks like Time Flies, or the drill production on Demons (featuring big name on the contemporary drill scene, Fivio Foreign), Dark Lane Demo Tapes is not going to change anyone’s opinion of Drake. Nevertheless, Drake’s choice is clear: instead of elaborating individual tracks he has chosen to string together instrumentals while rambling over the top of them. It’s a mixtape after all, not an album. In this format, it’s often easier to make use of production that is more plainly rap. It’s therefore not too contentious to say that the stand-out tracks on the record, from War to Desires (featuring Future) and D4L (with Young Thug and Future once again), are those that are less sung. Awaiting the next album then. © Brice Miclet/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 18, 2017 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

After releasing the hugely popular but artistically underwhelming Views in 2016, Drake went back to the mixtape approach for his next release, 2017's More Life. Over the course of 22 songs and almost an hour and a half of music, Drake shows again why he's one of the most frustrating rappers in the world. The main problem is that he's a better hip-hop-inspired R&B singer than he is an R&B-inspired rapper, but he refuses to acknowledge it. Listening to track after track of molasses-slow trap featuring Drake going on about how once he was on the bottom and now is firmly cemented at the top is tiresome at best, painful at worst. He only really comes to life on the songs where he drops the hard façade and lets some of his emotion show through, like the lovely island-inflected groover "Get It Together," which features Jorja Smith killing it in the role often occupied by Rihanna, or the dark-night-of-the-soul ballad "Nothings into Somethings," which balances his intimate crooning with introspective rapping. The bubbling "Passionfruit" is Drake at his smooth, melancholy best, showing off his skill at creating surprising melodies and entrancing atmosphere. These moments are too few and far between and most of the record sits right in the center of the rut Drake has dug for himself over the years. There are some tracks that break free of the boredom and show some kind of pulse -- usually the tracks where guests drop by and add their skills to the mix. Young Thug, in particular. His dramatic rapping and outsized persona put Drake to shame on "Ice Melts." He's Technicolor, while Drake is various shades of gray. That track and Sampha's feature ("4422"), where the singer gets deeper emotionally than Drake ever has, don't do Drake any favors. They only serve to showcase his flaws and make it clear that More Life is another overly serious, musically uninteresting effort. The few choice tracks, high-profile guests, and occasional stylistic shifts aren't enough to keep More Life from being another disappointing release. That it proved immensely popular upon its release will only serve to reinforce his misguided belief that he's the best rapper around. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released November 15, 2011 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

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Drake’s highly anticipated follow up to the platinum Thank Me Later is full to the brim. Made up of beautiful contradictions, tender vocals, tight flows and big name collaborations, Take Care is a more than worthy successor to the Toronto rapper’s first studio album. Amongst the 19 tracks on the album are collaborations with the likes of Rihanna, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and even Stevie Wonder (a harmonica solo on Doing It Wrong). Drake lays everything on the table here, displaying everything from sheer confidence (Headlines, HYFR) to mellow and fragile insights into his love life (Marvins Room, Doing It Wrong). The mix of deep, soulful singing and sharp rapping is what makes this album brilliant, and these two aspects don’t remain separated as Drake often combines the two in order to make his raps more melodic, something that has given him a more original sound during his rise to the top. Take Care also steps it up in terms of production with a team including T-Minus, 40, Jamie xx, Boi-1da, The Weeknd, Illangelo, Doc McKinney and Supa Dups. Despite the generally ambient style, the extensive list of producers makes for a reasonably diverse mix of techniques, influences (in terms of genre) and tempos.There are certainly some rap classics in waiting on Take Care, including the title track on which Drake and Rihanna play the love game by exchanging heartfilled verses over Jamie xx’s production. Headlines and Crew Love (featuring the Weeknd) have “hit” written all over them with their hard-hitting and confidence filled lyrics. Marvins Room soothes the soul with its tender vocals and jealousy driven lyrics, a classic emotionally charged (lost) love song. Drake and his mentor Lil Wayne shrug off all the meaningless questions coming their way on HYFR, a track radiating swagger. And finally he concludes the album with The Motto (featuring Lil Wayne and Tyga), a piece of pure rap brilliance. By the looks of things, Drake is settling into his status as a superstar nicely. © Euan Decourt/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 5, 2021 | OVO

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3 stars out of 5 -- "Overall, on SCARY HOURS 2, Drake sounds less like an artist with something to prove and more like a title defender who might finally be willing to challenge himself again." © TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 25, 2015 | Cash Money Records Inc.

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 2, 2019 | OVO

After the release of 2017's double-disc Scorpion, Drake went for a deep dive into his vaults for his next record, 2019's Care Package. It's a 17-track collection of songs recorded but not used on albums or mixtapes, stretching back to the Take Care era in 2011. Many of the songs were used as teasers for upcoming projects, dangling out in front of the rabid public to get them excited. Ironically a lot of those tracks proved to be just as good as those actually used on the albums themselves. While that might have been disappointing to people wondering why they weren't included at the time, it does mean that Care Package is a surprisingly strong collection. It gathers up pounding, angry tracks like "Dreams Money Can Buy" from 2011 that shows Drake's rap skills were always sharp, lots of atmospheric late-night R&B, a bit of freewheeling hip-hop, and some slickly smooth balladry as on "Heat of the Moment." The tracks range from dark and introspective to loose and humorous ("Draft Day") with some biting diss tracks ("4pm in Calabasas," which rips on Puffy, Meek Mill, and Joe Budden), crooning remakes of TLC's "Fan Mail" ("I Get Lonely") and the Destiny's Child song "Say My Name" ("Girls Love Beyoncé"), and some avant-garde R&B ("My Side"). Through it all, the familiar Drake tropes (his self-belief, his rise from nowhere to the top, his broken heart and disdain for the people who did him wrong) are front and center, but unlike on recent albums where the sameness of the music and tone makes for difficult listening, the variety of styles, sounds, and beats means that this is one of the more satisfying albums Drake has issued. Despite it being made up of songs that were cast off, leaked, or used as bait, it serves as a kind of shadow career overview that gives a full picture of Drake as a talented, forward-thinking, frustrating, monomaniacal, and important artist. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 14, 2020 | OVO

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2010 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

By the time of the release of Drake's first full-length album, the Canadian rapper was already a star thanks to his huge single "Best I Ever Had," his celebrated mixtape and then EP So Far Gone, and his spots on hits by Young Money and Eminem. Thank Me Later had the tough assignment of living up to the anticipation and further Drake as an artist, and it totally lives up to the hype. Thanks to the rich and nuanced production and Drake's thoughtful, playful, and intense lyrics, Thank Me Later is a radio-friendly, chart-topping collection of singles but also a serious examination of Drake's life that holds up as an album. Most of the record finds the young rapper (23 at the time of release) conflicted about his growing stardom and fame. Whether it’s a relationship splitting up as on the melancholy “Karaoke,” worries about the fame changing him (“The Resistance”), fears that so-called real hip-hop fans will find him manufactured (“Show Me a Good Time”), or the difficult nature of romance when you’re a star (“Miss Me”), Drake isn’t afraid to examine what the past year has done to his life. He’s also not afraid to talk about how great life has become as well, dropping plenty of lines about the money, the women, and his own prowess as a rapper. His belief in his own skills is well-founded, as the list of collaborators lined up to work with him attests. T.I., Swizz Beatz, Young Jeezy, the-Dream, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Drake's mentor Lil Wayne all drop by to add verses, sing hooks, and produce tracks, and their presence sometimes serves to liven things up and keep Drake away from his melancholy nature. The T.I./Swizz Beatz track “Fancy” is a fun and sassy summer jam with a huge hook, his track with Jay-Z ("Light Up") is a fierce takedown of the Industry and the damage it can wreak, and the Nicki Minaj collabo "Up All Night" is a tough-as-nails boast that features Drake at his most insistent. Elsewhere, Lil Wayne's verse on "Miss Me" is his usual breathtaking verbal roller coaster, the-Dream's vocals on the verses of "Shut It Down" are heartbreakingly sincere, and Jeezy adds some welcome ferociousness to "Unforgettable." It’s like all the guests had to bring their best game to keep up with Drake, and they didn't want the youngster to show them up. He never shows anyone up exactly (though Jay-Z's verse sounds kind of out of breath compared to Drake's), but he definitely proves that he belongs at the very top of the game. His nimble flow is impressive; his words are heartfelt, brainy, and surprising; and while his singing may not be the best, it shows a vulnerability that is rare in rap circles. Indeed, it is this willingness to be introspective and honest that makes Drake unique and helps make Thank Me Later special. It is the rare album, rap or otherwise, that follows through on the artist's potential and the fan’s anticipation. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 29, 2009 | Young Money - Cash Money Records

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So Far So Gone is Drake’s third mixtape. Ten years after its release online, it is now ready for its second life. When the mixtape was released Drake was most known for his part in the Canadian show Degrassi: The Next Generation. He had already produced two mixtapes, still quite unknown, and had just released his sensational single Best I Ever Had. The song attracted various labels who after the release of So Far Gone fought over his contract. The recipe adopted here by Drake and his faithful beatmakers Noah “40” Shebib and Boi-1da is unstoppable: irresistible vocal melodies, between rap and singing, supported by spacious and airy beats, full of references to southern hip-hop (November 18th, a tribute to DJ Screw, Uptown), featured appearances of the godfather Lil Wayne (on November 18th) and subtle nods to rap and indie pop hits (Santigold and Diplo, Jay-Z and Lykke Li). Music fans from all over the world were discovering Drake’s double persona, both arrogant and vulnerable. A prelude for one of the most spectacular cross-over success of the times, “So Far So Gone”, goes further in the direction opened by Kanye West with 808's & Heartbreak.It also paved the way for a new generation of rapper-crooners including The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. © Damien Besançon/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 29, 2018 | Cash Money - Drake LP6

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Carried by the juggernauts “God’s Plan” and “Nice For What”, Drake is releasing his fifth album, Scorpion. Coming off of his uneven Views and his eclectic playlist More Life, the Toronto artist offers a complete panel of 25 tracks spread over two sides like an old vinyl or a dusty tape. Drake is trying to explore all the angles of his musical personality, with a first ensemble focused on rap, and the other edging towards pop. In “Scorpion”, Drake is also trying to encompass his entire dynasty, and invited his two long-time role models to the party: Jay-Z for a red-hot verse and Michael Jackson on a ghostly melody. Darker and sharper in the first part, Drake reaches later on a few radiant moments like “Blue Tint” and “Ratchet Happy Birthday”. But for the first time in many years, the worldwide musical emperor appears to falter on his throne and offers a glimpse into a few fragile moments. Following Pusha T’s repeated attacks, Drake recognises his paternity maybe sooner than he initially intended. And while he often claims to be “Emotionless”, Aubrey Graham here proves he can’t always be in control. He appears urgent on the “Nonstop” borrowed from Blocboy JB, nostalgic on the soulful “8 out of 10” and annoyed on the catchy “Sandra’s Rose”, produced by DJ Premier. Bit by bit, he’s always trying to prove his legitimacy, justifying his success, his accomplishments. Scorpion marks a turning point in his discography, a transition with a few flashes and short-winded moments that scratch the surface of the artist’s personality. Throughout the album, Drake doesn’t directly address his critics, but provides a lot of information about his position and state of mind. Slick but tormented. The best Canadian mix. © Aurélien Chapuis/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

Booklet
After an EP and two albums that firmly established his moody, introspective style and made him a huge star, Drake's third album, Nothing Was the Same, isn't a huge departure but it does take some steps in new directions. Built around sped-up samples and Wu-Tang-inspired, spooky loops, the production retains the same basic style, but is a little deeper and more foreboding. Provided mostly by longtime collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, the backing is suitably melancholic and claustrophobic enough to match Drake's main lyrical themes of angry boasting, dealing with a broken heart, and being disillusioned by the lifestyle his fame has brought him. This time out, Drake adds to his list of family issues, as a couple tracks deal with re-establishing a relationship with his father and worrying about his mom. It's good to hear him reaching out a little and expanding his concerns because his usual topics are wearing thin, especially the boasting. "Started from the Bottom" is the main offender, since the idea of Drake starting from the bottom is a little ridiculous. If growing up well-off, starring in a TV series, and hooking up early with Weezy is the bottom, we should all want to start off there. It's hard to entirely write off this song, and the others that focus on his greatness, since the music is so evocative and because Drake's basic persona is still appealing. "Too Much," in particular, is a brilliant combination of brag rap and quiet storm balladry that features a simply heartbreaking vocal from Sampha. The tracks that work the best on Nothing are the slow-to-the-point-of-being-static ballads like "Own It," "Connect," and "305 to My City," which feel like the late-night emotional outpourings of a truly sad soul; the songs that bubble with raw emotion and are balanced against very dark loops, like "Wu-Tang Forever"; and the one song that has some uptempo punch, the very poppy R&B groover "Hold on, We're Going Home." That last one shows that Drake could make great left-field R&B if he wanted to, and is a nice contrast to all the angry talk and bitter introspection that fill the rest of the record. As impressive as it is that Drake has become a star while making records that are mostly joyless and twisted up by emotions, it might be nice to hear him loosening up and having some fun now and then. As far as this album goes, though, it's not much fun but it is worth exploring if you've been following Drake's progression up till now. Nothing Was the Same doesn't show large amounts of growth, but the small changes to the sound and the slightly wider net his lyrics cast make it worthwhile. Plus, there aren't many other rappers who do gloom as well as Drake and that's something worth supporting, if only because it's something different than the hip-hop norm in 2013. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 3, 2020 | OVO

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 29, 2016 | Cash Money Records - Young Money Ent. - Universal Rec.

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Since the release of his last non-mixtape/non-collaboration album in 2013, Drake has solidified his position as a pop music icon, scaling the charts, dominating gossip columns, and generally living the good life. Or so it seems. 2016's Views is another in a string of dour transmissions from the dark night of Drake's soul. As before, he casts himself as both the melancholy bachelor looking out over the city from his penthouse manor, and the criminally underrated rap genius demanding his due, and it's one album too many for both personas. He's already delved deeply into his insecurities, lambasted all his exes, and displayed his fierce self-pride, never shying away from telling everyone exactly where he started and how far he's come. Frankly, it's become as boring and annoying as a needle stuck in a groove. No matter how ably the production casts his raps and ballads in the best possible light, no matter how well the frequent use of chopped and swirled samples from '90s R&B songs fit in the mix, no matter that the occasional song rises up from the narrative and makes a splash, the album is a meandering, dreary rehash of what Drake has done before in much better fashion. Of the songs that stand out, his uptempo, Caribbean-flavored duet with Rihanna ("Too Good") is the most enjoyable; "One Dance," another song with a Jamaican dancehall feel, is another fun track. Still, these poppy moments feature Drake as the wounded lover, being treated poorly yet again. A few other tracks connect, like the almost light-hearted "Feel No Ways," which makes good use of a stuttering Malcolm McLaren sample or, of course, the hugely catchy hit song "Hotline Bling." The nostalgic "Weston Road Flows" comes close, with the great Mary J. Blige sample running through the track, but stumbles when Drake name drops Katy Perry and brags about wrecking marriages. The track, like so many others made up of over-blown boasts, seems to be fighting a battle that was won long ago. Drake has not only arrived, he's taken over. And if he's never going to get the same respect that someone like Chance the Rapper gets, making records as self-pitying and self-serving as Views isn't going to do much to further Drake's career artistically, either. Basically, Drake needs to lighten up and add some new colors to the paintbox, whether it’s songs about something other than his bummer love life (like the good times before the inevitable breakup), or the fabulous things that come from all the money and fame he never lets anyone forget he's accrued. Eventually, people will get tired of the same old song if it's sung too often. On Views, Drake is starting to sound a little weary of it himself. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Drake in the magazine