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Drake - Scorpion

Drake – Scorpion

Life can be tough if you’re Drake. Sure, he’s one of the most decorated rappers of his generation, garnering Grammys and breaking streaming records daily, but he can’t seem to receive any respect from his contemporaries. He’s been in heated feuds with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to DMX and, most recently, Pusha T who suggested Drake was biding his time until he could make his baby the centrepiece of a marketing campaign for his new line of Adidas clothing as well as outing his son Adonis, who was quietly born at the end of last year. Scorpion, Drake’s fifth proper album, sees the Toronto rapper reflect mainly on fatherhood, on a double album that has its moments but ends up feeling tired and baggy by its finale.

That’s precisely the problem with Scorpion, too. While the best rap albums of the year so far have come from Bishop Nehru’s Elevators Acts I & II (31 minutes), Pusha T’s DAYTONA (21 minutes) and Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s KIDS SEE GHOSTS (23 minutes), Drake’s fifth effort is just far too long in this streaming age - and filled with far too many duds to create the coherent masterpiece he promised. It’s a shame because, at its best, Scorpion is an exhilarating, breathtaking and intoxicating ride through what Drake does best: exciting, polished and expertly-produced beats.

These exciting moments come from the rapper’s most brutally honest lyrics. On the album’s best song, ‘Emotionless’, he finally announces his child on top of an instantly recognisable sample of Mariah Carey’s ‘Emotion’: “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world, I was hidin’ the world from my kid.” It’s an emotional moment from the rapper, and instantly slots you into Drake’s situation and, let’s be honest, as far as making people feel sorry for him, Drake is the best in the business. He’s made a whole career out of it.

Likewise, ‘8 Out Of 10’ finds Drake finally giving a direct response to his rival Pusha T’s statement that he’s a deadbeat dad: “The only deadbeats is whatever beats I been rappin’ to.” Always one to play down a spat, this is classic Drake on top of one of his greatest ever beats, as he downplays the beef because he’s just too satisfied with his life. “Kiss my son on the forehead then kiss your ass goodbye,” he taunts. “As luck would have it, I’ve settled into my role as the good guy.”

Ultimately, Drake’s weak portrayal of the “good guy” is where Scorpion falls down. On the abhorrent ‘I’m Upset’, easily one of Drake’s worst ever songs, he sounds unenthused about the prospect of child support: “Can’t go 50-50 with no ho / Every month I’m supposed to pay her bills and get her what she want… My dad still got child support from 1991.” From the “good guy” to this sort of pettiness, it’s a horribly shallow juxtaposition that sees Drake come off awfully.

Of course, cramming in 25 tracks means you’re guaranteed a few duds - not even the likes of The Beatles or The Clash managed the double album without a few missteps - but some of Scorpion is just plain trash. Take the cursed, joyless ‘Ratchet Happy Birthday’, ‘God’s Plan’, or ‘Khalil (Interlude)’, which all see Drake with an entirely different moral compass each time, unveiling the incoherence of Scorpion which, in this bloated streaming-era release, is completely unnecessary.

Yet, the cynic would suggest he’s made it this long just for the enhanced streaming plays. It’s not an outright success, but it’s certainly not a disappointment. Any album with the likes of ‘Emotionless’, ‘8 Out Of 10’ and best track on the album ‘Nice for What’, which is arguably the song of 2018 so far, and an infectious spin on New Orleans bounce, cannot be disputed, but with a bit of refinement and less of the smarminess, this could have been a roaring success.

Liam McMillen

Website: drakeofficial.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Drake
Twitter: twitter.com/Drake

 

 

 


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