Drake is one of the only artists I have actually watched grow as an artist over the last six or so years. I remember buying his debut mixtape So Far Gone, which I still think is very good, and finding something to enjoy from each of his projects since. I did not love Thank Me Later, I think Take Care is amazing, Nothing Was the Same was alright and his commercial mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late made my best albums of 2015 list. Considering all this, and how long this album had been hyped, I was very eager to dive into this to see what Drake would deliver.
My first listen was incredibly underwhelming and unmemorable but I kept listening through, hoping it would get better upon repeat listens. In a way it did get better, the production began to pop out to me and the songs flowed together fairly well. But then I started to pay closer attention to the bars and I kept finding more and more to dislike.
Thematically, Drake is not doing anything that is new but it works for him. He even admits on “U With Me?” that he has made a career out of reminiscing old relationships. Treading these safe waters was sadly, exactly what I was afraid of Drake doing. Especially on an album with 20 tracks that goes over 80 minutes in length. You would think with all this time, Drake would find something more to sing/rap about.
Before I start criticizing too much, I do think there are things to praise Views for. For one, the production by regular Drake collaborator 40 is great here, helping this lengthy album flow together with a wide variety of sounds. Like most Drake albums, we get a good fusion of R&B and Hip-Hop, where the line between rapping and singing can sometimes blur. The inclusion of dancehall influences on tracks like “Controlla” and “One Dance” was also interesting even if I do not think it worked out too well for him.
There are definitely a handful of standout tracks on here that I think stand tall amongst the rest of the tracks here. The opener “Keep the Family Close” works well to showcase Drake’s personal trust issues with a grand orchestic sound. “Weston Road Flows” which is a great tribute to Drake’s childhood and features some of Views’ best bars. “Redemption” is one of the most emotionally sincere tracks on here where we get a more introspective side of Drake. I like the Rihanna collaboration on here more than their collaboration on Anti. It continues the narrative of Drake and Rihanna’s struggled relationship that they have made very public. And of course the closing title track is a fittingly epic conclusion to this massive record.
Besides for some standout moments on other tracks, very few of the other tracks are particularly memorable to me. That is not to say they are bad, they just have yet to stay in my mind even after so many listens. The only bad song that is on here are probably “One Dance” which is a weak attempt for a dance song that does not work nearly as well “Hotline Bling” did a few months ago, luckily that song is tacked on the end this. “Grammys” is another song that really annoys me, but that might just be because of Future’s insufferable verse on here.
The lyrics are also not nearly as strong as they should be on this project. Even on some of the better songs on this album, Drake drops bars that are just embarrassing. Moments like “Keychain go jang-a-lang, I wanna do major things” on “9” and “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum” on “Pop Style.” For the most part these lyrics are just silly or poorly conceived, but never cross the line into being offensively bad. The worst moments were probably when Drake talks about his ex-girlfriends, on songs like “U With Me?” where he talks about telling his exes they belong to him or on “Child’s Play” where he details a relationship with a girl who is simple and only with Drake for him money. Instead of using this to show his own weaknesses in realizing he is being used, Drake instead focuses on how terrible the girl in question is and the immature ways he deals with her.
Hardcore Drake fans will enjoy this album though, and there is plenty on here for them. Sadly, I do think this is Drake’s worst album and considering the years of hype that went into it, this is without a doubt the most disappointing release of 2016. I really did want to love this, that is why it hurts to say there is so much that is not great here. I know Drake is not going away anytime soon, I just hope he changes up his subject matter a little because the formula is getting tiresome.
Best Tracks: Keep the Family Close, Weston Road Flows, Redemption, With You, Too Good, Views, Hotline Bling
Worst Track: One Dance