By Tate Luckey
Among the various pop and hip-hop albums released throughout the year, the album-of-the-year conversation arguably boils down to a few artists: maybe it’s Tyler The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost, or Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour; perhaps J-Cole’s The Off-Season? Kanye recently dropped Donda, which I did a review of here. And now Drake enters the fray, with his album “Certified Lover Boy’ coming out just a week after Donda. Is the 6God back? Was the Champaign Papi right in his hype over the album, going all the way back to 2019?
Short answer: No. Longer answer: Kinda? But he dropped the ball.
I would be remiss not to first address the album art. Designed by Damien Hirst, on a blank background features 12 pregnant women emojis in various clothes and skin tones. Contrast this with Scorpion, a clean, almost vintage-looking black and white photo of Drake looking serious, or even Views, in which he is (photoshopped) atop Toronto’s CN Tower. It’s an extremely jarring, almost immature contrast to what listeners are used to.
Yet somehow that is about the most exciting thing on the album. The songs aren’t necessarily bad. They’re just, not notable. Listening to the near 90-minute album I could name two, maybe three songs total that stand out, the first one being his lead single “Way 2 Sexy” featuring Future and Young Thug. That song is classic Drake. It’s catchy. Future and Thug’s verses are great, and it’s now being taken over by TikTok as a “sexy boys anthem.”
“Champaign Poetry” is actually a nice intro song, sampling Masego’s “Navajo” (which in turn, samples a cover of the Beatles classic “Michelle”), with Drake discussing his conflicts of fame and his true self in a very “stream-of-consciousness” type of flow.
But beyond that, the other 80 minutes are just kinda….there.
Girls Want Girls? Just kind of weird. “Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too” he playfully sings. What does that even mean? Heck, what does the title even mean? Most of the lyricism is just discussing Drake’s lack of loving, about the heartbreak and hardships he’s encountered. The number and notoriety of the artists featured here can’t make up for the same rehashed subjects. It’s like Drake has fallen into a formula, and here we see an album emblematic of the question “where will he go from here?” but for the wrong reason.
It’s just not exciting.
The Bottom Line
Again, the album is not bad. It’s very well produced, and for casual Drake listeners, there’s stuff to enjoy. But you can’t help to think that given the musical deluge this past year, there should have been more.