Review Summary: See Title
Genuinely asking here: What is the point of Drake in the year 2022?
The "softest in the game" persona that he's leaned into has been played out since "Hotline Bling" was a smash, if we're being charitable, and he's admitted himself that his meteoric success has jaded him into being unambitious and bored. He has sex and he is sad and he will brag about it. Last year's awful Certified Lover Boy
was hyped to be a mission statement in the same way that 2016's mediocre Views
was, but ended up floating like a lead balloon. The same song and one dance has been performed again and again and again and again and again. Like his taste in women, his career is now old enough that he does not seem interested in pursuing it.
Enter Honestly, Nevermind
, a surprise release with only one feature less than a year later. There was reason to optimistic, given the last time a project of his filled those two criteria it was arguably the best in his career, but the end product ends up being every bit the extremely obvious joke that the title implies, if not even worse. Drake's "seventh" album takes a surprising turn into being a nearly-exclusive dance affair. This lone, objective fact is the most interesting thing about it by a country mile. Each of the album's thirteen dance tracks are inferior versions of "Passionfruit" and dare to challenge your patience and self-worth, the culmination of which is the truly baffling "Currents", a track that incorporates rhythmic bed-creaking and a horrendous vocal performance.
And that's really the rub here. Drake has never sounded worse. His voice sounds painful, rather than pained. He sounds too exhausted from wearing his human suit to bother putting up the emotional front that helped launch him into stardom. Tracks like "Sticky" and "Massive" have a lot of potential, but are ruined every moment that Aubrey's vocals wander back into the scene. Those are really the only instances of creative production though, as many other tracks comprise of extremely suspect mixing and as much energy as the man that this album is dedicated to (who is dead, by the way).
"Jimmy Cooks" is the only good song on offer here, but is it great because it's great or is it great because it's a drop of water in the desert?
At the end of the day, it's obviously not a surprise that Drake is not putting out a release that finds him at the top of his game. What becomes harder to justify, however, is that he remains in the game at all. Hip-hop is a difficult genre to remain relevant and is largely a young man's game. Aging genre stalwarts like Kanye and Jay-Z have had their fair share of stumbles, but have shown more often than not a graceful aging of their sound. Honestly, Nevermind
is an album that is so bloated, boring, and bad that it works not only as a Spinal Tap-esque self-review, but also potentially as a mission statement on how we should feel about the biggest artist of the 2010's.