Review Summary: Jokerfied.
I’ll be honest, it’s hard to muster up the courage to listen to Drake’s Certified Lover Boy -let alone write about it- when it sounds like Drake didn’t take care in making it. Unlike the rollouts of his previous few singles vehicles, CLB has never really been promised as a magnum opus that will shake up the game. Instead, that void was seemingly induced by the public at large that if this were going to be the next former studio release by the world’s biggest artist, then of course it will be a landmark moment in the culture. Grandiose promises by the man himself were substituted with a haircut that seems like some sort of hazing ritual, cover art that screams meme-ability to the point of desperation, and a bizarre lack of an all-encompassing single to hang your summer hat on. The best should surely be saved for the album, no?
It turns out that there was a good reason for the lack of discourse on the music itself, because there is absolutely nothing to talk about. The collection of songs here, running an absolutely ludicrous 90 minutes and 21 tracks, play out like tossovers and barely fleshed out b-sides from his recent and already maligned releases, which is rich coming a mere year and change after the much more fleshed out Dark Lane Demo Tapes. The beats here barely exist and the hooks just simply don’t. Drake runs on auto-pilot to tell you that he gets the ladies, but no the right one; that he’s the most popular, but doesn’t have friends; that he has it all, while having nothing. It’s a literal song and a literal dance that we have all heard from him before, but without the dance. Where once his punchlines and gushing honesty were legitimately game-changing, they now ring hollow and reek of desperation. At one point, he tells you he’s a lesbian. This man is 34 years old.
Despite there being a song that tells you otherwise, Drake brings along a lot of his friends in the industry and while I wouldn’t say they make for the best parts of the record, they are at least the most entertaining. “Way 2 Sexy” is a song that is so offensively bad and sonically tortuous, that it easily stands out as the most compelling point in the record and will get the people talking and the kids making tik toks. Maybe Drake will find his next girl there to make a far better record about. His pen game is slightly elevated on “Fair Trade” and “7am On Bridle Path” and those industry friends admittedly spit fire on “You Only Live Twice”, but other than that the highs are few and far between and really not that high to begin with.
If there is any confusion as to why a review is coming out for a titanic 90 minute album mere hours after release, the only reasoning needed is the same reason anyone is caring about it in the first place: it’s Drake. He is at the top of his game and seems hellbent on building his musical brand on corny catchphrases, caked in milk. People will flock here to see if he comments on Kanye or his son or if the horrendous emoji cover art is a clue to more children, and the answer is a resounding...kind of. And that should not come as a shock, as the man as the man has always been anything but forthcoming, but his airy, cool demeanor has given way to just airy. Certified Lover Boy is, at long last, a parody of the man who always managed to make the joke before anyone else could.