Drake’s fourth album, Views, is finally here and it’s lit. The project is instrumentally ingenious and experimental with a mesmerizing melange of orchestral music, jazz improv, slow jams, mellow beats, with plenty of room left for virtuosic bars of remarkable rhetorical dexterity and potent content.
While the album has a couple bangers, the most impressive feats aren’t the classic boasts and bombasts we’ve seen from Drake about being the best rapper alive. Instead, Views goes beyond the braggadocio showcased in some of his biggest hits.
In his most diverse and introspective album yet, Drake taps into a more sensitive, self-reflective side as he raps about the importance of family, betrayal, failed relationships, conflicted feelings about his life, and his influence on the game and his hometown. In the first track, “Keep the Family Close,” he cuts deep, and in doing so, makes himself vulnerable. The song opens with a woman saying, “It’s a little chilly out there, how you can stand there is beyond me.” Then, the hook comes in with Drake rapping, “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore/how do you not check on me when things go wrong/guess I should’ve tried to keep my family closer/much closer.” Here we see him lamenting how he can’t depend on many of his old friends and how it’s led to his growing inability to trust others.
In “U With Me,” Drake brings in Kanye West and samples of DMX’s “What These B—–s Want?” and “How’s It Goin’ Down.” In the song, he questions the intentions of his girlfriend, doubting whether or not she’s really in his corner. “It’s like a lot of games bein’ played/How’s it goin’ down?/If it’s on til we gone then I gots to know now/Is you wit me or what?” he wonders.
Throughout Views we listen as Drake struggles to figure out who has his back, and who’s just in his life because of his success. In “Redemption,” one of the most pensive and intriguing tracks on the album, Drizzy unleashes his interior monologue, questioning himself and the meaning of his relationships with former friends and lovers from his hometown of Toronto, or as he calls it, “the 6.”
“Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces?/Why do I want an independent woman to feel like she needs me?”
In this instance, Drake wrestles with what it means to be the best in the game–as he claimed in 2014 when he branded himself “Steph Curry with the shot”–while also still needing validation to feel secure in his position. Just to drive home his point–that he’s still one of the dopest in the game–Drake drops some filthy bars in the songs “9” and “Hype” that separate him from the competition once again.
But what makes Views great isn’t a flamboyant lyrical performance of hyper-masculinity, artistic mastery, and invulnerability. What makes this all-encompassing album fire, and Drake a pivotal voice of our generation, is how he took this moment to go personal, to embrace the complexities and conflicts of what it means to be one of the greatest rappers of our generation.