On Scorpion, Drake proves himself to be the living, breathing example of the “get you a man who can do both” meme; with Side A showing his gang-heavy mandem rap side and Side B working as the perfect antidote for your WCW’s most recent heartbreak. One of these sides hugely outshines the other in terms of quality, and I think you can guess which one that is…
Drake truly is the most famous rapper on the planet right now, perhaps even the biggest musician of all genres, thanks to his relentless work ethic in releasing masses of music over the past couple of years. Ever since 2015 when he brought out If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and his collaborative mixtape with Future, What A Time To Be Alive, Drake has flooded the charts with new bangers for people of multiple generations to enjoy. The kids love him, their parents love him and I’m pretty sure there’s some grandparents out there who vibe to a bit of One Dance.
With all this in mind, Drake appears to have sacrificed the idea of cohesive albums during this stage, with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late being his last great critical release. Aubrey has been all about the commas over the past few years and that comes at a price; namely releasing 20 song albums with lots of filler just so that he can strike a goldmine at some point.
2016’s Views had its moments of brilliance, with songs like the aforementioned One Dance and Hotline Bling dominating the charts; but as a whole it was a very disappointing release, easily his worst to date. He followed the same blueprint with 2017’s More Life and although that was comfortably better than his previous effort, it still had moments of boredom amongst the commercial powerhouse anthems like Passionfruit and Portland.
A year on and we have a 25 song, double-sided album called Scorpion and it appears to be following suit once again; is that the case? It certainly looks that way given the chart success of his singles leading up to this release, God’s Plan and Nice For What are still floating around the top of the biggest sellers, but what about the rest of the songs?
NINETY MINUTES LONG. If you love Drake and are blinkered enough to never accept that he can do things wrong then fair play, you’re in for a treat and won’t have to complain about a lack of music to listen to; your strange king Aubrey has hooked you up. As for the rest of us, it’s as simple as this: Drake has given up trying to make critically acclaimed albums, it is painfully obvious to see. This makes reviews like this feel almost irrelevant because the point of this release isn’t to be hailed as a top draw release, instead it is here to simply please a crowd.
I’ve said my piece about the ethics of this release, now lets get to the content itself. Side A is very rap heavy, with Drake bringing some surprisingly cold bars onto some standout beats from OVO 40, a man who must surely still be hurting from Pusha T’s scathing lyrical attack on him during his Story of Adidon diss track. That beef appears to be squashed and everyone has moved on, with Drake using this side as a chance to once again really show us all how great of a rapper he is and ultimately can be when he wants to be.
I got quite a few Nothing Was The Same vibes when listening to some of the songs on Side A, particularly the brilliant opener Survival and my personal favourite on the whole project 8 Out Of 10, with some joyous production and strong vocal flow from Drizzy. I absolutely love the bridge where he talks about kissing his son and mum on the forehead before he will “kiss your ass goodbye” which I interpret to be a very subtle response to Pusha T and Kanye West; suggesting that he is over it all now.
The majority of Side A is truly excellent, with wonderful lyrical content and stellar production. I am a huge fan of the production on Emotionless and the trap influenced banger Mob Ties, while Sandra’s Rose has some great sampling work behind clever Drake lyricism. I would say there is only one song I am not a fan of on this side and it’s the god awful I’m Upset, which really could be one of the worst songs Drake has ever made. The hook is garbage, his flow is weak and the beat is a snoozefest; the less said or thought about it, the better.
Side B, however, this really infuriated me. I don’t have a problem with Drake going down an R&B route, some of his best songs to date have been slow jams, the likes of Marvin’s Room and Too Much for example. My issue is how overly-produced these songs sound, it feels so extra and almost distorted at times, it really distracts from what is some fairly strong vocal deliveries from Drake.
Vocally he is really solid on songs like Jaded and Summer Games but what he says is just so surface level. Despite that we will still have these boring, unimaginative lines shoved down our throats by everyone for the next few months as if they are the words of a wordsmith. They are just bog-standard R&B songs that are only truly memorable for the wrong reasons, mainly for how washed they sound in production, drowning out Drake for the most part.
I do actually really enjoy Don’t Matter To Me despite being very hesitant when approaching it. I had every reason to be confused when you see that it contains a posthumous feature from the King of Pop Michael Jackson but it blends very well and much like water is wet and grass is green, MJ gives us a great hook on this song. The beat is smooth and Drake’s performance is good, this is the best song on side B alongside the obviously brilliant Nice For What, which needs no explanation by this point.
There are a couple of references to the recent allegations of his completely unknown son on this album and I feel as though Drake doesn’t really do it immense justice. His segment on Emotionless where he proclaims that “I wasn’t hiding the world from my kid, I was hiding my kid from the world” sound a bit like a sorry excuse and it would appear people have fallen for it; of course they have because the beloved Aubrey Graham can do no wrong. His other mention of Adonis comes in the final song March 14, which appears to be the birthday of his kid but coincidentally is the same day he played Fortnite with Twitch streamer Ninja; words fail me sometimes.
This album is a troubling one, clearly Drake has put just about every song he has wrote onto it just to try and please everyone; hence Sides A & B containing two differing musical styles. He is trying to make a song for everyone rather than honing his craft and making music that he is undoubtedly brilliant at making. Side A is very good apart from one or two slight issues and Side B fell flat. Drake’s consistent inconsistencies have once again come back to haunt him when this could have been a completely different story if he had just released Side A as the album. It isn’t an average album but it really isn’t that far away from being one. Better than VIEWS? Of course. Better than any of his other albums? Not for me.
FAVOURITE SONGS: Survival, Emotionless, 8 Out Of 10, Nice For What, Sandra’s Rose
LEAST FAVOURITES: I’m Upset, Peak, In My Feelings, Ratchet Happy Birthday, Finesse