HITS Daily Double


Drake Addresses Foes on Side A, Shines on Side B

On Side A of his new blockbuster, Drake addresses his recently revealed son and rap beef while constantly reminding us of his chart-ruling throne. It feels as though Side A was a rush to protect what he appears to value most—his good-guy status—and it’s problematic that he felt the need to address and take control of his narrative, resulting in some repetitive and unfocused passages. At times on Side A, it’s easy to believe Drake when he says he’s “exhausted and drained.” But on “Nonstop,” “Emotionless” and “Sandra’s Rose,” he does well enough to maintain being America’s (Canadian) sweetheart.

Side B marks the return of “Marvin’s Room” Drake. With pad-heavy production, Side B takes its time and doesn’t compromise. Here, he abandons song structure, and the result is refreshing. Channeling James Blake, Drake envelopes Side B with minor-key progressions, complementing his intimate singing and storytelling. “Summer Games” and “Jaded” don’t have huge choruses—and they don’t need them. In shifting the focus from attacking foes and defending himself, Drake allows the listener to get lost in the production and his own vulnerability.

“Ratchet Happy Birthday” is incredibly fun. It feels like a demo in the best possible way. “Don’t Matter to Me,” featuring a sample from the one and only Michael Jackson, is upbeat and paced with hand-claps, as the deep synths perfectly setup MJ’s vocal. The sample is just enough to remind us how powerful that voice is. Together, the generational icons thrive in minimalism.

Overall, Scorpion at its worst is still more formidable than the efforts of most artists, and as for the highlights, the only plausible reaction is to hit “repeat.” There’s a reason Drake’s become the undeniable king of the charts: It’s where he wants to be. In “Blue Tint,” he laments, “Top of the charts, back in your hearts.” He’s never had to worry about the charts, and as for our hearts, has he ever really left?