There comes a point in every musician’s career when a proverbial crossroad lies ahead, and a choice must be made. Do they continue to make the records that the people need and want, or do they bury those considerations and go for self? In Drake’s case, that time is now. The crowd has been begging him to go right, but Views is Drake’s conscious effort to go left. Way left.
First off, the record is entirely Canadian. Diversity is the tie that binds their culture, and that unique vibe paints Views with a muddled sense of individuality. It’s clear that Drake is aiming to be Toronto’s most celebrated son, and producer Noah “40” Shebib orchestrates his trademark “Toronto sound” throughout. But that regional pride feels more rehashed than expansive, and while there are some vintage Drake gems buried within the 20 tracks packed into Views, the result feels underwhelming.
The brooding self-consciousness and lean towards pop flair on Views far outweigh the bravado of Drake’s last few records. The production is sparse throughout, and that downtime leaves Drake sounding more bored than ever. If this is Drake’s take on Toronto’s change of seasons, that transformative feel somehow escapes the record. It’s brooding, passive-aggressive, and at times sad. The only seasonal vibe captured here is a chilly fall losing the inevitable battle to a cold, grey winter.
The record begins with “Keep The Family Close”, a moody, lament that shines a brief and unforgiving light on the people from Drake’s past that he could simply do without. It’s a cinematic and promising start. “9” pledges to turn the 6 upside down, a clever anthem for the land which he claims he’d die for. It’s a moving sentiment, but one we’ve heard time and time again. “U With Me” is Drake’s ode to DMX, and for what it’s worth, it works. He’s on point when blending the best of his worlds; crooning and spitting punch lines, often flipping styles in the same verse.
The problem is the record lacks consistency. Juggling tough guy stands with underwhelming pop pulp is a turn-off. “Redemption” and “With You” are mid-album fillers that preach the age old ‘love don’t live here anymore’ sentiment. A posthumous Pimp C verse can’t save “Faithful” from itself, and “Controlla” while entirely fun is a meme waiting to happen.
Look no further than “One Dance” for a glimpse into Drake’s promising future. He seems truly at home with a sunny, dancehall beat he can explore and play with. It’s followed by “Grammys,” where Drizzy is joined by his summer tour mate Future. The song resonates simply because of the boastful, hungry vibe of Drake’s past. You also can’t deny Future’s energy, and it’s a saving grace here.
By the time, we’re blessed with “Pop Style” at track 15, the wave of anticipation has come and gone. When the heavy hitters (see Jay-Z, Kanye, etc.) drop 20 song sets, they have something tangible and new to say. For Drake, the view here is cloudy at best and will ultimately rank among his more forgettable releases.