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Review: Drake Takes the Safe Route on “Scorpion”

We can say the summer music season kicked off with the first of the 5 “Wyoming Sessions” projects in Daytona by Pusha T. The project, executive produced by Kanye West, was set to be the first in a succession of 5 straight weeks with new music, Daytona (May 25), ye by West (June 1), KIDS SEE GHOSTS by West and Kid Cudi, Nasir from Nas and culminating with KTSE from Teyana Taylor. That was from the GOOD Music camp, all executive produced by arguably the greatest producer of this century himself, Kanye West, each being a brief and easy-to-digest 7 songs long.

But there was one album that was also announced to be dropping in June. It was Scorpion, from the biggest name (not just in rap) but in all of music Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake. Leading up to the album, there was, for the first time, a question if Drake would be able to produce, especially coming off the beef with Pusha T.

Everyone knows this by now but here’s a quick recap for anyone living under a rock during this whole beef:

1: Pusha T drops Daytona with the “Infrared” diss.

2: Drake comes back with “Duppy Freestyle” on the same day Daytona releases, which takes more shots at West than Push.

3: Pusha T comes back 4 days later with “The Story of Adidon”. Referencing the failed marriage of Drake’s parents, his head producer’s M.S. sickness and dropping the bomb of Drake’s hidden child.

Drake has still failed to respond to the shellacking from Push, inconceivably taking the real first undeniable “L” of his career. The stans said wait until Scorpion drops and he drops a diss on the album. Instead, we got a bloated double-album filled with some solid songs but overall a lot of filler and the same Drizzy we’ve gotten since his 2016 record Views.

Filled with 25 songs (his third straight release of 20 plus songs), divided into two sides, “Side A” being rap and “Side B” being composed of soft R&B/pop, the project does not offer anything new to his catalogue.

Side A Review:

Tough guy Drake is not his strongest suit. He is able to get by solely based off charisma and his amazing ear for production. Serving as the intro, Survival, falls flat on its face in setting a tone of “toughness”. Sounding more morose and sad than ever, Drake keeps the tough facade by talking about how his friends will shoot you. The very next song though is where his ear might’ve failed him: “Nonstop” produced by Tay Keith (best known for his work with Blocboy JB) is one of the most generic beats Drake has ever spit on.

The standouts on “Side A” are easily ‘Emotionless” and “Is There More”even though it’s mostly for the production on the two tracks. Both songs dabble in the same subject matter that Drake has felt way too comfortable to ever change up on. “Emotionless” is a reflection on what he’s accomplished in his career and “Is There More” discussing the hating from outsiders of his OVO crew. The only new wrinkle he has thrown in is finally the acknowledgment of his son, but even then it’s touched on so briefly it feels disingenuous. He raps “I wasn’t hiding my son from the world, I was hiding the world from my son” on “Emotionless” in an attempt at an excuse.

The lackluster and disappointing production from DJ Premier on “Sandra’s Rose” also accompanies the boring and superficial shit-talking rhymes from Drake for the most forgettable song on this side. The biggest disappointment on “Side A’ goes to “Talk Up”. Featuring production from DJ Paul, it arguably features the best sound on the rap side of Scorpion but once again another boring and uninspired verse from Drake and a mailed in, lazy and indifferent verse from Jay Z pull it down.

Overall “Side A” is heavily carried by its production and lacks very few duds but its good songs are nothing to marvel at. At times he seems very disinterested and bored while rapping, almost as if there’s nothing left for him to say rapping wise. Even the songs that’ll probably stick (Mob Ties, 8 out of 10 and Can’t Take a Joke) don’t offer anything different to entice people to replay it on the writing side.

Side B Review:

The highs are at the highest on this side but the lows are at the lowest as well. The R&B offerings include all that the public has grown to love from Drake but also include his biggest weaknesses in his singing. Somewhere along the road from Views to More Life to Scorpion, Drake’s voice has gotten worse. Once being a better-than-average crooner, songs like “Peak“, “Finesse”, “Blue Tint” and “After Dark” all suffer from his now below average singing voice.

“Ratchet Birthday Song” is the worse and mostheavy-handedd attempt at a radio/Instagram caption song from Drake. Shallow and superficial lyrics, it tries to capture the same “women empowerment” message as “Nice For What”, but where he fails is that there isn’t one interesting aspect of “Ratchet Birthday Song”.

The “you hurt my feelings” song “Jaded” plays so well to the strongest aspects of Drake’s music. The raw emotions of love that he elicits from within himself and draws out of his fans are ever so present on this song. “In My Feelings” seems to be the standout song amongst the excessive 25 song tracklist. Featuring posthumous vocals from the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, “Don’t Matter to Me” is another standout song in the discussion for top 3 of Scorpion.

The final two songs “Final Fantasy” and “March 14” are fine, but as said again about multiple songs on Scorpion, they’re nothing special. Covering his sexual fantasies and finally acknowledging his son on a whole song respectively, this is the first time we finally get something different from Drake, but those same feelings of apathy and listlessness are present. It’s almost as if he said “let’s try this for shits and giggles”.

Overall:

Scorpion is not bad, it’s just very boring, safe, uninspired and the same music we’ve been getting from Drake for the better part of the last three years. There’s no plausible excuse for this being 25 songs long, no one is interested in double albums anymore, this isn’t the ’90s. Cut Scorpion down to 10-12 songs and we have a different discussion here.

Scorpion feels as if Drake committed to this double album concept and was too stubborn to back off it, resulting in the boring filler songs. The singles (“God’s Plan”, “Nice For What” and “I’m Upset”) don’t even fit well on this album. Sounding out of place, it’s almost as if the songs were never intended to be part of this album but just thrown on. This isn’t bad, but it’s not good, it’s average to below-average. Offering nothing special and interesting and heavily carried by production unlike any other release from Drake, he has created another safe offering to not alienate his fans.

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