Drake's 'Views' Shows the Rapper Is 'Still Learning and Growing'

Get the review of his new album.

ByABC News
April 29, 2016, 4:28 PM
Rapper, Drake announces the starters before the NBA All-Star Game as part of 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 14, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Rapper, Drake announces the starters before the NBA All-Star Game as part of 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 14, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
NBAE/Getty Images

— -- Drake’s new album “Views” is here.

It’s an album he’s been hyping since 2014.

One listen to the dramatically symphonic opening track, “Keep The Family Close,” and you know immediately that this is going to be a radically different effort than last year’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” It is evident that this is also a better -- and more dynamic -- album.

Drake’s best gift has always been setting moods. He’s a performer who puts style over substance. Admittedly the substance level is a bit higher on this set and he’s obviously put much more effort in maintaining a flow. It used to be that he dropped a line. He took a breath. He dropped another line that rhymed with that previous rhyme in the simplest of ways. He’s noticeably upped his game, but as a lyricist, he still doesn’t earn the level of hype he often receives. Still a track like “9” shows some growth, in spite of his occasionally delusional declarations. “Key chain go jingle-ling. / I want to do major things. / MJ in every way. / I just don’t fade away.” It’s good to have dreams.

Still, there is nice warmth to this record and he gets some decent lyrical energy going on “U With Me?” and he works a smooth groove with “Feel No Ways.” That being said, the write-up in the iTunes store (currently an Apple Music exclusive) talks up this album’s “immaculate vocal turns.” (Do vocals count as being “immaculate” when they are noticeably auto-tuned? Not in my book.)

I will say this. No one else sounds quite like Drake. His verse style may be occasionally clunky, but he has effectively cut out his own unique niche.

While “Hype” has an almost Kanye-like sense of self-satisfaction even as it denounces the fleeting flash, “Redemption” is all about finding peace with past relationships and “With You” is a fun, reggae-infused party groove.

“Weston Road Flows,” again finds him working a strong R&B groove. On the latter he brags that he plans to retire at 35. I’m sure in six years he will change his mind. (Also, didn’t he just say that he won’t “fade away?” Keep it consistent, man!)

On “Faithful,” he takes a few too many spaces in his lyrics, reverting back to his old, minimalist style. Overall, it is evident that Drake is out to make semi-ambient, chilled party music with some emo edges.

The emphasis on both “Still Here” and “Controlla” is on making catchy chants. Admittedly the latter at the one-minute mark kind of sounds like it is revving up to quote Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” even though it is working a subtle dancehall vibe that comes to fruition with a mid-track momentary interruption.

Drake has his eyes more on being a pop star than on being a great hip-hop artist. Any true hip-hop head will tell you that this is more of a pop and R&B record than a hip-hop set. “One Dance” works the same kind of retro-eighties, post-disco club vibe that Moby was working on his 2008 album, “Last Night.” It brings to mind that album’s “I Love To Move In Here.”

Future’s rambling mars the skeletal “Grammys,” while “Childs Play” sounds like it trying to become a low-key club hit with its background hand-clapping and its repeated chorus of “bounce that s--- like whoa!” “Pop Style” has some ear-catching eeriness to its beat and Drake’s frequent collaborator, Rihanna, drops by to sing on “Too Good.” This builds the growing R&B momentum that continues the “Summers Over (Interlude)” and “Fire & Desire.”