Drake’s New Album ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ Is Proof He’s Past His Peak

There was a time, not too long ago, when Drake had a lot to say. Maybe you remember the origin story: a gangly Canadian degrassi The star moved to Houston in 2009, where he covered his mixtapes with a spritz of appropriate codeine and slammed the doors on Trey Songz and Lil Wayne until he had a record deal to call his own.

Drake possessed the audacious belief that he could reforge the music industry in his extremely unorthodox image; he would go onstage in jackets and polo shirts and write lines about hating fame and missing his dorm room. He even posed with a jeweled Chai chain and a Toronto Blue Jays cap on the cover of the magazine. vibe.

Drake headlines the Club Paradise Tour in 2012.

Kyle Gustafson/To the Washington Post via Getty

It really worked, against all odds. In early 2010, when the solipsistic stereotype of the millennium was just beginning to calcify, Drake ascended as our unquestioned avatar. I was a 20-year-old sophomore at a giant state college when Take care came out, which is to say I represented Drake’s precise target demographic. He experienced a voicemail message left by an exasperated ex-boyfriend in “Marvins Room” and christened a generation of isolated and terminally self-conscious oversharers. Drake was in a bad mood heading to the Pantheon, and we were lucky to be along for the ride.

So you can probably understand my dissatisfaction last Friday after Drake released his bewildering seventh studio album, honestly it doesn’t matter, at the stroke of midnight. The disc is 14 songs and 55 minutes long, and officially introduces the rapper’s Caligula era. something is gone horribly wrong here. Drake traded in the toolbox that took him so far for a tincture of whispery EDM and Ibiza that immediately evaporates into thin air.

A lot of people are joking that honestly it doesn’t matter sounds like stock, hypebeast muzak you can listen in a ZARA fitting room, all piano rave and liquid drums. But to me, it’s more like a frighteningly less vibe 808s and heartbreak. Drake barely raps for the entire runtime, choosing to rely on the honeyed voice that earned him megatons like “Hotline Bling” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” But unlike those songs, nothing on the album is capable of registering the slightest emotional feedback. The intention is to be neutral music – pleasantly transient, aggressively low-stakes – with all of Drake’s trademark swagger surgically excised.

Drake’s seventh studio album cover, Honestly, it doesn’t matter.

Flyer

My mom would probably like it. honestly it doesn’t matter it’s certainly Drake’s first album that could merge into his algorithm-derived Spotify playlists, and that might be the point. After more than a decade of dominance, Drake no longer courtes our sordid allure. He’s happy to soak up the streams and cash his checks. I was a fool to hope for another classic Drake record. If I had been paying close attention, I would have known he would end up like this.

I saw Drake live during his Take care tour in 2012. He was already madly, unfathomably famous – we were in a basketball arena packed to the rafters. But the reality of that fame was not yet fully cemented. Drake was in his mid-twenties, still feeling the parameters of his genius, and towards the end of the show, right before the encore, he offered an essentially low-key monologue. Drake told us he knew he was going to fall one day. The records weren’t going to sell forever. How could they? Like all of us, eventually he will get old, washed out and out of touch. So thanks, he said, for showing up, because nothing lasts forever.

At the genesis of a decade-long reign at Billboard, Drake was already looking forward to the inevitable end. That neurosis has always fueled his best songs. This is a man who suffered from the pressures of success long before he was successful. Drake was never able to relax and enjoy the ride, and he really wanted us to understand why. What is Aubrey eating? The melancholy memories of a healthy civil encounter at home? He will tell you the exact Hooters she works on. A petty insult that he—and only he—could care about? He will air all your dirty laundry in public. An ex-girlfriend he almost certainly treated badly? He’ll build a song out of your outrageously valid grievances. Drake knew he was leading a convincing life and was happy to give us all the gory details.

Drake on the Summer Sixteen Tour in 2016.

Paras Griffin/WireImage/Getty

You can’t blame the guy for backing down; those of us who grew up on the internet are inevitably ashamed of our own paper trails. The first crack in your portfolio was probably from 2016 views, a sultry, sour album that stomped on water and revealed no fresh juice in Drake’s personality. (Frankly, you could argue that Views it’s worse than Honestly, it doesn’t matter but this is a take for another column.)

But for me, the point of demarcation came in 2018, when Drake found himself in a disastrous altercation with Pusha T. Pusha infamously learned that Drake had recently become a father, which hadn’t yet invaded the TMZ-trained audience. He implanted that detail as the pivot of “The Story of Adidon,” an extraordinarily brutal diss track, and it served Drake his first true celebrity embarrassment. (“You hiding a kid, let that kid come home / Deadbeat motherfucker playing border control,” yeesh.) The rapper had dishonored himself many times on his own terms, but this was different. Someone else had taken control of Drake’s well-cultivated narrative. That wasn’t the deal, and I’m not sure he’s fully recovered yet.

I think that’s why Drake’s last two studio albums from 2018 Scorpion and from last year Certified Lover Boy, fell with a thud. Both records produced a lot of hits – Drake never, and probably never will, lose his ear for a beat. But the trademark messy intimacy was conspicuously absent. Drake’s latest chart-topper is “Way 2 Sexy,” a song so blatantly and knowingly stupid that it samples the single Right Said Fred of the same name. In the video for “In My Feelings,” released in the aftermath of the Pusha T disaster, Drake plays a dizzying alternate timeline where he remained a struggling rapper well into his thirties – an eternal fucker with no money to support the lifestyle and, therefore, without couture. profile meats to worry about. He honestly looked very happy!

It must be a relief to leave all your first artistic inclinations in the dust without any financial penalty. In many ways, Drake is more successful than ever. He’s become the master of all the music industry’s avaricious trends, consistently releasing giant 20-track and meandering B-side collections designed specifically to extract as much of Spotify’s waste as possible. He is increasingly mercenary with his collaborations – honing a relentless nose for virality – to the point of inventing TikTok trends. (“Toosie Slide” was the nadir of the entire pandemic.) None of these tactics make Drake an exception: record companies know how sausage is made, which is why we must support Scorsese’s Migos albums. But I miss that brief period of time when Drake dared to think of himself as his generational voice. He himself has always been the most interesting part of his art, but he doesn’t want us at home anymore.

it brings us back Honestly, it doesn’t matter a Drake album where Drake is effectively invisible. As Jayson Greene noted on Pitchfork, the rapper seems to disappear into the Balearic ether, fluttering through the brief pockets of air with a sigh or groan, distilling his vivid love confessions into some sweet-hearted motifs. honestly it doesn’t matter won’t stir up rumors or intrigue, because in 2022, Drake is happy to treat music like a day job. Again, no one can blame you for escaping the crucible. Drake is a 35-year-old single father, and one of the most euphoric things about getting older is the realization that you no longer have the ability to wear your heart on your sleeve. And anyway, the album is already setting new streaming boundaries; he shouldn’t regret it.

Still, I can’t help but trust that the brash, thin-skinned old Drake, the guy I fell in love with, is lurking in the benthic regions of his brain. We saw a twinge of that over the weekend as the rapper analyzed the muted critical reception of his latest project. “It’s okay if you still don’t understand. It’s okay,” he said at a launch party for honestly it doesn’t matter. “This is what we do. This is what we do, we are waiting for you to follow along. We are here, however, we have already achieved it.” This is the guy I know and love – Not Crazy, Actually Laughing – setting up a new set of scores to settle. I can only hope he can tap into that dark pettiness one more time, for yet another classic. The sooner he does. reach the midlife crisis, the better.

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