Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Album Review: Drake’s Young Money/Cash Money Records

Posted on May 04, 2016 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

Online Content

By Bradford Spurr, Multimedia Editor

The Six God is watching. ‘Six,’ a reference frequently made by rapper Aubrey Graham (Drake) as a term of endearment for Toronto, was dropped from the highly anticipated fourth studio album with hip hop royalty Lil Wayne’s Young Money/Cash Money records (YM/CM). Anecdotally, because I personally had no clue for the longest time, Toronto is called the ‘six’ because it was originally divided into six different city sections, not unlike New York’s boroughs, before being consolidated into the fourth largest city in North America.

Before the unpacking of Drake’s 20-track behemoth, it is important to discuss roll-out, new RIAA rules in play and what exactly is the deal with all of those mixtapes. Way, way, back (in internet years), Drake’s fourth studio album was announced in 2014 shortly after his third studio album Nothing Was the Same was released, which is currently rated platinum three times over in the U.S.

Spoiler alert: previously dropped singles “One Dance,” “Pop Style” and “Hotline Bling” make appearances on the final track list. This is important to know for sales projections and for how the album will debut on the charts (currently Drake is three-for-three with debut number ones). For every 1,500 song streams on Youtube, Spotify and other third party streaming applications, those streams are counted as a single album sale.

On Spotify alone, “Hotline Bling” has been streamed over 430 million times. Taking into account the other three singles, Drake is already more than halfway to a platinum RIAA certification, with 500,000 domestic album sales, and with something close to 353,000  “stream sales”if that term I just made up makes sense and my limited math skills as an English major hold upfrom Spotify listeners alone.

Now onto VIEWS. The Drake of internet memes, the Drake of feelings and drunk dialing your ex, the Drake of telling someone you love them, is still here at the heart of VIEWS, but something is inherently different than the critically acclaimed sophomore effort Take Care. Drake is more introspective at times, reserved and collected, and at other times his typical braggadocio by-way-of life style shines through. Drake is no longer the wheelchair bound basketball coach on Degrassi, Drake is hit-you-up-at-three-in-the-morning-and-you’ll-still come-through kind of guy.

Well balanced are the tender moments, and then there are the not-so-tender moments, when his flexing takes on a life of its own and you begin to feel some energy from this record, even if you will most likely not be peeling out in a murdered luxury sedan import (unless Jettas count, then yes I am living the Champagne Papi life).

Drake just announced his own whiskey, Virginia Black, but enough on that.

We start with “Keeping the Family Close,” a reminder we keep hearing from Drake after his notoriously messy falling out with Philadelphia rapper and love interest of Young Money juggernaut Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill. Personally, Drake won the altercation with a slew of pretty devastating “diss tracks” that would make a normal man go into witness protection. This sentiment of the “inner circle” and of camaraderie is most significantly exhibited by Drake’s extensive use of Noah “40” Shebib, 40 year old fellow Torontonian, who produces nearly half of the tracks on the record. We still see Drakeisms throughout the piece, like “All of my let’s-just-be-friends are friends I don’t have anymore/How do you not check on me when things go wrong?” that is thrown into the opener.

The appeal of Drake, contrary to his two most recent mixtapes If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and his surprise effort with Future, What A Time To Be Alive, is that sing-you-back-to-sleep Drake, who is discussing your darkest fears and brightest hopes, is ever present. You can’t help but feel for someone and, at its most successful moments, even a college kid who is a product of the shrinking American middle class can begin to understand how fame and fortune can bring about isolation and pain.

The seamless ebb and flow of Drake’s emotions, between his heart melting crooning and his “should’ve loved me while I was there” rapping, is only elevated through the incredible production value on the record. Employing African and dancehall rhythms, South Side of Chicago drill beats, and then those plunging synthy bass hits that originated from hip hop post Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak (who also, ironically, produces one of the album’s highlights “U With Me?”), the entire album reflects feelings that are typical of an album in this style. You go through the gamut of anger and alienation, and when you get to the hallmark sing/talk/rap speak outro reflection Drake likes placing at the end of the journey, you feel tired, you feel understood, you feel full.

This album proves that the age old adage, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint” rings hauntingly true. When reflecting on this record and the enormous success of young Aubrey Drake Graham, who could have been published in the Kenyon Review with a name like that, it seems impossible that anything he touches won’t end up as chart-topping masterpieces. Drake is an ideal, a high watermark of which all other hip hop hopefuls are compared to. VIEWS is here, and VIEWS has already taken the narrative of the summer hostage. Buy this album. Listen to this album. Love this album. And Drake will love you, forever and always. Remember though, the Six God is watching.

 

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