Drake’s second-best album – ‘Views.’ Many would argue that ‘Nothing Was the Same’ or ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ are closer runner-ups but, in my opinion, the lyricism present in ‘Views’ is unmatched, even against himself. Drake recently stated in his ‘Rap Radar’ interview with Elliott Wilson and Brian B.Dot Miller that ‘Nothing Was the Same’ is his favorite album due to its concise yet impactful nature. I agree; that project is solid but ‘Views’ touched me in a different way; I felt these records on a personal level. – He opens the album with “Keep the Family Close,” where he raps, “All of my "let's just be friends" are friends I don't have any more /Guess it's what they say you need family for / 'Cause I can't depend on you anymore / Always saw you for what you could have been / Ever since you met me like when Chrysler made that one car / That looked just like a Bentley I / Always saw you for what you could have been…” He’s simultaneously detailing the thoughts of a love lost while remembering the evolution he saw buried beneath her work-in-progress exterior. He’s insulting and complimenting her at the same time – genius - or he could be reminiscing on the loss of a friend, either way, he fuses simplicity with complexity. It’s like he’s plainly stating his truths, but he does so in a way that’s still dense. He goes on to rap, “I always saw you for what you could've been / And even when it's business with you it's personal again / I knew you before you made ends meet / And now we're meeting our end,” again simplistic complexity. Drake wins because he raps as if he’s not even trying but merely having conversations over production. When artists start merely conversing over 808’s and hi-hats again, Drizzy will have some true competitors. He’s a storyteller first and foremost and that’s why he wins.
In classic anthems like “Weston Road Flows” he samples Mary J. Blige’s “Mary’s Joint,” and he flows over this record with the utmost precision. He raps, “A lot of people just hit me up when my name is mentioned / Shout out to KD, we relate, we get the same attention /It's rainin' money, Oklahoma City Thunder / The most successful rapper 35 and under / I'm assumin' everybody's 35 and under / That's when I plan to retire, man, it's already funded…” This kind of passive arrogance reminds me of Hov and I like that about Drake. In Jay-Z’s “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” he raps, “Yo, I'm making short term goals when the weather folds / Just put away the leathers and put ice on the gold / Chilly with enough bail money to free a Big Willie / High stakes, I got more at stake than Philly / Shopping sprees, cop in three / Deuce fever IS's fully loaded, ah, yes…” It’s the colorful wordplay as he dances around his affluence that makes him one of the most revered emcees of all time and Drake possesses some of those similar lyrical qualities as well. Let's be clear though, Drake can be blatantly cocky as well, towards the end of "Western Road Flows" he raps, "Now the talk at the corner store is I'm T.B.E / The best ever, don't ever question, you know better / But shit ain't always how it seems when it's sewed together / Yeah, I let that last line breathe, it take a second to get it / Weston Road flows, my confidence level gettin' settled..." He's brash yet humble. He's stating that his confidence level is just getting settled and this was several albums post his debut so in a way he's still being humble. Every Drake album is top-charted and critically acclaimed, yet his confidence is just settling in, boy he's something else. 'Views' is his fourth studio album, while some artists have released 10 albums and still haven't even touched this caliber of lyricism. He’s also highly experimental in this album with pop records like “Controlla” and “One Dance” but also gives ladies something to twerk to in tracks like “Child’s Play” where he samples Ha-Sizzle’s 2010 hit “Rode That D*** Like a Soldier.” Drizzy raps, “Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake / You know I love to go there / Say I'm actin' lightskin, I can't take you nowhere /This a place for families that drive Camrys and go to Disney /They don't need to know all of our business…” It’s this playful and relatable lyricism that divorces his bars from the masses. He can go from club-anthem creator to RnB tendencies all in one album. Records like “U With Me,” “Feel No Ways,” “Redemption” and “Fire and Desire,” give me ‘Take Care’ vibes. I think I love this album because it listens like ‘Take Care 2.0.’ I fell in love with Drake’s music because of ‘Take Care.’ However, let’s be clear, I thoroughly enjoyed his 2010 release ‘Thank Me Later,’ which included hits like “Fireworks,” “Over” and “Best I Ever Had” but that album could have easily been a one-off , however, the follow up listened like an artist coming into themselves, their genre, their style and each record is a classic. Anyone can make one good album; it takes a true student of music to make several great albums. Drake dominated this decade of music. In total he released eight projects between 2010 and 2019, if you include his collaborative effort with Future ‘What a Time to be Alive’ – that’s impressive. Each one of those albums were classic in their own rights and they all topped charts, none of them flopped. We don’t know what the next decade of music will hold but one thing for sure, if Drake keeps the same momentum from this decade, he’ll reign supreme.