‘VIEWS’ might be familiar, but still is an impressive outing for Canada’s best MC

Vincent Nguyen, Reporter

On August 6, 2014, Drake announced that his new album title was “Views From The 6.” As the days went by, the growing anticipation and hype surrounding his fourth studio album intensified. Almost a year later, the title was simply shortened to “VIEWS,” and was released on April 29 after premiering on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio.

The very lengthy album has the Toronto rapper/pop star stick to his usual formula, a formula he created, but this time, it sounds more mature and more fine-tuned than before. This was in large part because of his vocal performance, as he even stated, it was his best vocal performance on his lead-up Beats 1 radio interview with Zane Lowe before the album’s release. At times in the past, Drake came off as whiny and even slightly annoying, but on “VIEWS,” he tones that down and delivers a sharpened vocal performance especially on songs “Feel No Ways,” “Faithful” and “Fire & Desire.”

Although Drake is one of the biggest names in the genre of rap, he is also one of the safest. Unlike his counterparts and biggest competitors right now, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, Drake stays in his lane and doesn’t stray away from it. This can lead to stagnation. Lyrically, the OVO front man is still rap – singing about past relationships, trust issues, emotions, introspection and boasts filled bars.

On “Hype,” the 29-year-old MC showboats with lyrics about his position in the rap game and his riches over a dark, UK “Grime” infused instrumental.

“I feel like Juelz Santana, leg hanging out the Phantom/6 cold like Alaska/Views already a classic,” he confidently gloats.

The album version of “Pop Style” has Jay Z and Kanye West taken off of it. Drake instead decides to rap a second verse which is good, but not as good as the verse previously rapped by Kanye. Over a woozy, atmospheric-banging beat, he taunts his haters and people that have dissed him in the past, most notably Meek Mill and Tory Lanez.

“They been out here try’na slide on me/They been out here telling lies on me/Everybody looking out for themself/But they still got they eyes on me,” he proclaims.

Sonically, the album’s production, mainly handled by Drake’s right hand man, Noah “40” Shehib, is sleek, lush and melancholic. 40’s trademark sound is imprinted all over the album. But songs like “Controlla,” “One Dance (ft. Wizkid and Kyla)” and “Too Good (ft. Rihanna)” depart from the moody, somber, filtered sound and captures summer impressions as the album is based on seasons that occur over the course of a year.

The up-tempo, dancehall-influenced, Popcaan-less “Controlla” is one of the highlights of the album. Drake explains his commitment to a woman, “I think I’d lie for you/I think I’d die for you/Jodeci ‘Cry For You’/Do things when you want me to/Like controlla, controlla,” over an instrumental filled with dance vibes.

“One Dance” features a sample of Kyla’s UK funky hit, “Do You Mind.” As the title suggests, the two-minute and 54-second track is a dance ready, party ready anthem. The Rihanna-collabed,

“Too Good” has similar Caribbean, island feels of Rihanna’s hit smash, “Work,” also the latest collab between the two commodities.

Overall, “VIEWS” is what it is: a very, very good Drake album. It’s not groundbreaking, genre-redefining or experimental as some, including myself, were looking for. Does Mr. Aubrey Drake Graham even have that in him? Who knows, and the question whether this album is a classic or not will be determined years from now. But at the end of the day, ‘VIEWS” is another strong outing from the man up north.

Final Grade – 8.5/10

Favorite Tracks – 9, U With Me?, Feel No Ways, Hype, Faithful, Controlla, One Dance, Pop Style, Fire & Desire, Hotline Bling

Least Favorite Tracks – Redemption, With You (Ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR)

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