Review Summary: Nearly an hour and a half of Drake getting to the heart of nothing in particular.
Drake has been a constant in the mainstream musical landscape for as long as I have been into music. Out of all the stars who have mixed R&B, hip-hop and pop elements, he is the one that I genuinely wanted to like. There is nothing wrong with him on a surface level: his lyrics are decent enough, the production team behind him is good at crafting instrumentals and his vocal delivery is smooth. In fact, had you asked me about Drake in late 2015 to early 2016, I likely would have said I was a big fan. The two mixtapes he released in 2015 consistently stuck stylistically to hip hop, coming at the time when I had begun exploring my interest in the genre. I was eager to see what the next move was going forward.
Unfortunately, this is also when Drake began relentlessly releasing projects. There were four full-length projects, including the mixtapes and playlist, from February 2015 to March 2017. His omnipresence via market saturation exposed two of his most significant weaknesses: limited subject matter and a tendency to follow contemporary sounds (most notably dancehall and grime). Even with all that in mind, I was still intrigued to see what would happen next. So what did Drake deliver with the ambitious 90 minute double album, Scorpion"
The blunt answer: nothing new. This is not surprising, considering that he never set out to reinvent the wheel. It is a 25-song collection of hip-pop and R&B tunes about his life with an emotional veneer. Scorpion fits comfortably into his well-established something-for-everyone tactic of seeing what sticks instead of creating a cohesive album/mixtape/playlist.
Nevertheless, credit where it is due. The production is still good with reliable beats from 40, Boi-1da, No I.D., as well as several others. Is it the same atmospheric and moody style he typically works with" Sure, but it is decent and appealing enough to be used again. The sound typically associated with Drake should be used on Drake’s most Drake album, after all. However, the quality of the instrumentals is noticeable between sides A and B. Side B’s overall sound seems more polished and layered, whereas side A sounds mostly bland. The blandness sometimes crosses into cheap dime-a-dozen territory (God’s Plan, I’m Upset, Talk Up, Can’t Take a Joke). It almost comes across like the type beats aspiring producers make for aspiring rappers.
Lyrically, Scorpion is completely and utterly unremarkable. It features the same run of the mill lines that will inevitably be used for relatable “I felt that” tweets and the like. Only a handful of lyrical moments stuck out to me: “You’re old enough, but you’re still a baby” (Jaded), “Yeah I’m light skinned but I’m still a dark nigga” (Nonstop), “Kiss my son on the forehead then kiss your ass goodbye” (8 Out of 10). Even so, these stood out as rather bad or cringe worthy instead of than good in any way.
Scorpion by Drake is not a bad album so much as it is a disappointing one. Double albums in rap music, if executed correctly, can be rewarding and exciting listens. Regrettably, nothing here justifies the near hour and a half run time. There is too much filler content to balance out against the quality material. This is not an album I can recommend, unless you are a diehard Drake fan or morbidly curious.