DRAKE: SCORPION (ALBUM REVIEW)
17th July, 2018
17th July, 2018
Ascendancy, not righteousness is the theme I can hear on this latest Drake project. Scorpion is a 25 track album, that combines almost too well, and almost too familiar the versatility of the Canadian rapper to sing, rap and Ad lib. The album which was categorized into a “side A” and side “B” is built around standard-issue Drake themes, controversial relationships, wealth and affluence, religious influences and impact, parents marriage and disputes and a very little touch on fatherhood, beefs and being back-stabbed by friends he claimed to have helped. The latter was mostly influenced by a controversial issue between Drake, the GOOD music general and one of his artists. Almost every track of side A tries to address the issues with subliminal, subtle jabs and answering questions that the altercations asked. Drake rants on this “side A”, almost as if he’s the only one that has lived this story. And Drake isn’t even new to this kind of altercations, as we all know. For someone who boasts a lot about how he never loses a fight, chess and checkers and how he moves intelligently — the conversations on the “side A” seems like a cry of someone with a shattered crown who wants us all to believe he’s still very much in control regardless.
Drake floats on “side B”, showing off his vocals and mastery engineering of “40” and other mix engineers. “Side B” is a sound we all know too well — the exhausting mix-match outcry of his issues with and concurrently his love for women, the “pillow-talking empowering” messages for young women to leave that toxic situation (which is usually about the other guy) and flourish, and ending in a new direction about his long stand anxiety about paternity and how this new situation is changing him, a 31year old “boy” to become a man.
Survival. Drake’s intros are always very significant for the album. It has almost become a custom for him to use the intro to set the tone for the album. Survival showcases Drake’s favorite way to introduce an album; condescension with subtle and subliminal messages on mellow beats. “Tucson Leather” is arguably his best intro but “Survival” comes close to fitting the above aforementioned qualifications. He opens by addressing the current altercations, admitting the negative impact it had on him and/or his career, but plays it off like a slight bruise — “All of this disorder, no addressin’ / The crown is broken in pieces, but there’s more in my possession”.
Drake further talks about the attack from all sides, effects on him, even a subtle hint at giving up/suicide (the message isn’t so certain — “Think my soul has been marked, there's a hole in my heart
Yeah, I was about to *silence*
Man, I thought about it
It's unsettlin' to talk about it” )
... and, for the most part, how he’s tired but not discouraged and ready to face anything head on. Survival also has one of the best word plays from the album
“My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions”.
Nonstop. In summary, drake basically demands for respect. He blows his horn a bit talking about his hot flows, business moves, his prowess at splitting wig and the darkness of his game.
Elevate. Here Drake alternates between percussive rap and melody as he talks about the type of life he has built for his family, while still working for better prospects.
Emotionless. Drake had some explaining to do. And he did just that. He speaks a lot about the dilemma of beefs with people he was once friends with or people he looked up to at one point in time (a probable reference to Kanye West or his idolization of “clipse” a former rap duo involving “Pusha T” and “No Malice”) — “The people I look up to are goin' from bad to worse, Their actions out of character even when they rehearse”.
He goes on to explain why he didn’t want his child in the limelight, and didn’t pass up on the opportunity to rap about the vanity on social media.
“I know a girl that saves pictures from places she's flown, To post later and make it look like she still on the go, Look at the way we live”
Emotionless feels like the press release to calm a negative media outburst with some well crafted distractions interpolated in the messages. In my own opinion this song wouldn’t have been without the paternity saga and no one should give an explanation for wanting to keep their private lives private. So yeah, this track maybe pointless!
God’s Plan. God’s plan is a feel good song that doesn’t come with any deeper messages, other that “I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry”. It’s catchy, studded with brilliant instrumentals and well executed by Drake.
Feels like drake tries to make music for everybody cause he can and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’m Upset. Another one of Drake’s “easy going rap along” song. Unlike ‘started from the bottom’, this is directed at a course (the rap beef), it had a mission(to send a message that’s he’s upset), and a story twist (in light of his confession on 'Emotionless', saying “Can't go fifty-fifty with no hoe, Every month I'm supposed to pay her bills and get her what she want”).
8 out of 10. Even more subliminal messages at Kanye. Drake is trying to be sleek with the over emphasized use of “Good” and “wifey”, but this message is clear enough. It’s the cheesy guy way of insinuating things without the boldness to say it all, even worse, on a very positive beat. He ends it with a voice sample of a video posted by rapper Plies that brilliantly captures the mantra of this album
Mob Ties. Another combination of percussive rap and melody to further reiterate what we’ve been saying all along. “He’s tired”. But the sound on this one is far from an “outcry self pity” tone. Boi-1da makes the beat a catchy one, so half way through you don’t realize Drake is saying the same thing all along.
Can’t take joke. Further extension of the same message. Drake talks about his pride, his increasing paranoia with haters and even admits he checks his comments section.
Sandra’s Rose. Whether it’s 2010 or 2018, you’re still getting the same guy, with those same issues and the same context. Drake seems to be the rose in question, Sandra being his mother. Using word play to talk about his status in the game as the chosen one with a little deflection to the main pertaining issue that has clouded this side of the album
“Backstabbed so many times I started walking backwards”
Talk Up. Drake features Jay Z on this one. And it feels like an unnecessary track. Definitely a last minute work, as made obvious by the lazy beat, non challenging lyrics and lyrical content that makes reference to “XXXTentacion” who passed away couple days ago. When you put this beside “Light Up” and “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music II”, talk up seems so average.
Is There More. Absolutely yes! 13 more songs to go. Drake ends the “side A” talking generally on things, speaking philosophically, and asking questions only He can answer. Smh. "Is there more to life than goin' on trips to Dubai?"
Side B is a succession of full-fledged petty R&B songs with a few rap interruptions. “Peak” sounds like something from “Take Care” era, Melodramatically talking about women and social media. He sings about almost the same message on “Summer Games” but on a more tempo synth sound with drums doing wonders. Drake floats on “Jaded” almost too well, like he has done so so many times, in actuality, he has. It has no substantial lyrics, just unnecessary wording about him being hurt. The mellow fuzzy sound mixing with Ty Dolla $ign on ad-lib blends so brilliantly though. Side B can only get better from here. “Nice For What” showcases masterful vocal sample of Lauryn Hill here, topped by perfect pop delivery from Drake. The usual drake theme pops up again on “finesse”, centered around a piano chord. This kind of sound is his zone. You’d expect to float too well on this. Downhill from here is just the regular pop Drake with the with a voice that sinks into them mellow synths as subtly and effortlessly. But is there more to all of this than yearning for situations that ended badly and lovers that brought out your worst? On “March 14” he gets more serious and more honest. From his voice (and the way he repeated “we only met two times, two times”) you can tell he’s disappointed in himself. His role as the good, calculative guy has been threatened. He feel he has disappointed a lot of people, most importantly his mum. But he’s braced up and ready to become a man at 31. This has to be one of the most vulnerable writing of his career.
“In My feelings” is a fun song supposedly that has taken over the internet with “theshiggyshow” challenge. Good production!
The Michael Jackson “feature” on “Don’t Matter To Me” seems like a tactical decision for Drake’s role as the calculative guy. It must have cost a lot to clear a sample like that, but whatever the message he’s trying to pass, I’m definitely listening.
Scorpion has a lot of mix messages that’d probably bring out different emotions. But one thing is certain here: An unexpected, consequential development has greatly influenced the sound on this album. Scorpion is still that 2011 Drake featuring Drake bop, that’s trying to do damage control while still trying to keep up appearances in all his self acclaimed roles.