Do you need to reinvent the wheel if you’ve mastered making it spin? That was the central question on my mind as I listened to Drake’s latest album, “Certified Lover Boy.”
Drake is objectively the king of hits. He’s been sitting on the top of the charts for a decade straight, a feat few artists can boast. In fact, he’s had more Top 10 hits than Madonna, The Beatles and Michael Jackson.
However, “Certified Lover Boy,” like much of Drake’s music, lacks vision and imagination. At the end of the day, it feels like just another Drake album—catchy, well-crafted tracks put together without much depth to them besides unrelatable storytelling and highly questionable bars.
To me, Drake’s music is like vanilla ice cream. I enjoy vanilla ice cream, but at the same time, I would never say it’s my favorite flavor, nor do I crave it. It’s far too safe, too bland. I crave something more flavorful and exciting, something memorable and unique. I want to be wowed to the point that I say, “Holy shit, this is the future of ice cream!”
“Certified Lover Boy” is exactly what I expected it to be. It’s a solid, well-produced project, but it’s not memorable nor impactful. It’s not a bad album per se, but it shows Drake still isn’t willing to step outside his comfort zone musically. Due to this, Drake gets outshined by nearly all of his features, especially by Lil Baby and Future. Often, I find myself patiently waiting for the features rather than listening for Drake’s next verse.
That being said, there are a few standout tracks on “Certified Lover Boy.” “Fair Trade” immediately comes to mind with its heavenly, rapture-like production and a great verse from Travis Scott—returning the favor with interest for Drake’s feature on the wildly popular “Sicko Mode.” Moreover, the theme of the track—trading fake friends for inner peace—is far more compelling than Drake’s usual braggadocio.
“Champagne Poetry” is a strong opener with its smooth wordplay and chopped-up sample of Masego’s “Navajo” (which in turn samples The Beatles’ “Michelle”). However, I’m immediately annoyed by the first line of the album—“I’ve been hot since the birth of my son.” It comes across as Drake overcompensating for the messy aftermath caused by Pusha T’s vicious diss that exposed Drake for having a secret son.
All I have to say about “Papi’s Home” is that I never want to hear Drake call himself “Daddy” ever again. I felt like I needed to take a shower after hearing that line.
“Girls Want Girls” is classic melodic Drake song, but it’s ruined by absolutely atrocious lines such as “Starin' at your dress 'cause it's see-through” and “Say that you a lesbian, girl, me too.” Drake, you are a 34-year-old father. Stop it.
On both “In The Bible” and “Love All,” the features far outshine Drake. Lil Durk, Giveon, and Jay Z make Drake’s verses incredibly forgetful and bland in comparison.
“Way 2 Sexy” wears out its welcome very quickly with its insufferably repetitive beat and lyrics. It’s one of my least favorite tracks on the album, which is a travesty given how well Future and Young Thug work together.
While I like the sound of “TSU” a lot, the lyrics make me slightly uncomfortable. The repeated references to the woman’s lack of parental and financial support doesn’t sit quite right with me. It feels as if is Drake is exploiting her situation for sex.
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“N 2 Deep” is fun, but not memorable at all, meanwhile “Pipe Down” is more of a stand-out track with Drake’s smooth vocal delivery that matches the airy production perfectly.
“Yebba’s Heartbreak” is honestly one of the best tracks off the album for the simple fact that Drake is not on it, letting Yebba’s incredibly beautiful voice shine.
“No Friends In The Industry” is a hard-hitting, head-banging track, yet it feels somewhat hypocritical given how many star-studded features are on “Certified Lover Boy.” It would’ve been the perfect track for a single, but in the context of the album, it’s hard to take Drake seriously.
“Knife Talk” is an icy gang anthem that features an intro by Project Pat and an underwhelming 21 Savage verse.
On “7am On Bridle Path,” Drake continues his beef with Kanye with precise wordplay and an effortless flow. However, due to Kanye avoiding any discussion of Drake on Donda, Drake is left fighting a one-sided battle.
I have no complaints about the harp-heavy “Race My Mind,” but it doesn’t leave much of an impression on me either. It’s extremely forgettable.
The Afrobeat track “Fountains” doesn’t fit the album at all, an unnecessary and mediocre attempt by Drake to replicate “One Dance.” The only saving grace of the track is Tems’ feature.
“Get Along Better,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign’s angelic vocals, is perfect for those that love classic “singing Drake.”
Finally, 18 tracks in, we get another great track—“You Only Live Twice.” With features by rap powerhouses Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, the song was unsurprisingly guaranteed to be a hit. The synthline is also immaculate.
Kid Cudi heavily carries “IMY2,” making Drake seem utterly insignificant on this track.
To be honest, I just skipped “Fucking Fans” a minute in—it nearly put me to sleep.
Finally, wrapping up a bloated 21-track album, is “The Remorse,” where Drake reminisces about his life over a beautiful piano instrumental. It’s a great track, but ends an already underwhelming album on an underwhelming note.
Writing this review reinforced just how long 76 minutes can be. I’m bored. I’m exhausted. I’m done. Review over. Time to sleep.