By Keith Sharp
So let’s just for a minute suspend disbelief and actually position Drake perched precariously on the edge of the CN Tower, some 540 metres above the Toronto skyline (yes we know the cover shot was photo-shopped) gazing at the vista before him, the “Views”, that is reflected in said record title.
Yes it was supposed to be called “Views From The 6” which would have given all of Drake’s boasts about promoting Toronto a lot more credibility. We have to assume that some record distribution mogul in Los Angeles or New York, sniffed at his original idea and convinced our boy Drizzy to tone down his geographical concept, maybe they are Laker or Knicks fans rather than Raptor fans!!!!
So the former Aubrey Drake Graham scans out from his eagle’s perch and surveys the landscape before him. And yes, there is all of the 6 and then some from the Pickering Nuclear Plant to the East, to Hamilton Bay to the West and if he looks far South enough , he might be able to see water spray rising up from Niagara Falls or those smoke stacks across Lake Ontario near Rochester New York. Yes, lots to view and lots to sing about on his 82-minute opus that was released to much fanfare Friday.
This flurry of activity sparked a frenzy of activity from assorted journalist scribes, blazing through this opus of music to dissect each of the 20 songs and to register their own thoughts and opinions on whether Drake’s latest release is up to snuff. Some reviews are totally over the top, The chap from Maclean’s Magazine conducting his own psycho-analysis on the meaning/nuance of every lyric and every song arrangement.
Cutting through all the hype and verbiage, “Views” is a decent enough effort that probably could have survived at least a partial edit. If you happen to be a big fan of Drake and can appreciate said nuances in this 82-minute production and Drake’s Winter/Summer/Winter thematic reference, it’s a given that “Views” will be hugely successful, as have all his three previous studio record releases and two mix-tapes.
Yet those fans who came on board recently based on his “Hot Line Bling” success might need some direction in finding key singles tracks like “Pop Style”, “Controlla” and “Still Here” and “Too Good”.
As initially promised, “Views” features a strong shout out to TO as referenced in “Weston Road Flows” and “9”. Working with producer and his OVO label co-founder Noah `40’ Shebib plus new recruit, Maneesh, Drake establishes a signature production style with its stark atmosphere, focuses on lyrical aspects of family matters (“Keep The Family Close “), failed relationships (“U With Me”, “Feel No Ways”), successful relationships (his “Too Good” duet with former girlfriend, Rhianna) coming to terms with success, (“Pop Style”, “Controlla) and his overall career perspective with “Views”, (which should have been the record’s exclamation point), except Drake tagged “Hot Line Bling” as the final track, which seems oddly out of place, almost like an after-thought.
Considering the star power on Beyonce’s Lemonade release (The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, James Blake), Drake seems to have been short-changed, especially with the `supposed’
controversy over Jay Z and Kanye West pulling their vocal contributions on “Pop Style” but maybe at this point, Drizzy feels he can power through without any all-star support. Rhianna’s vocal duet on “Too Good” is an album highlight, Mary J Blige, has uncredited vocals on “9” and there are contributions, from his Atlanta cohort “Future” on “Grammys and Pimp C on “Faithful”, but otherwise, it’s Drake and his posse of producers and writers, going it alone.
At the end of the day, this is Drake being Drake in the present tense. If “Views” comes across as a somewhat bloated production, that’s his style and his prerogative. If the listener just wants hit singles, the power of the download allows access to the good stuff but more resolute fans will no doubt bask in Drake’s sonic excesses.
With a massive 32-date U.S tour guaranteed to consolidate “Views” in both the pop and dance charts, and further global dates pending, Drake is firmly established as a rap icon, up there with Jay Z, Kanye, Usher, Lil Wayne, R.Kelly, Eminem and the rest; not bad for a kid from Forest Hill. Now if he could just do something about those Raptors!
1. Keep the Family Close
3. U With Me?
4. Feel No Ways
6. Weston Road Flows
8. With You ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR
9. Faithful ft. Pimp C & dvsn
10. Still Here
12. One Dance ft. Wizkid and Kyla
13. Grammys ft. Future
14. Childs Play
15. Pop Style
16. Too Good ft. Rihanna
17. Summers Over Interlude
18. Fire & Desire
20. Hotline Bling
[styled_box title=”Rihanna Feat. Drake – Work” color=”black”][/styled_box]