To be frank, I’m not a fan of Drake. Even with access to the industry's very best, he somehow manages to release underwhelming tracks at an impressive rate. Although experimental to his fans, “Honestly, Nevermind” was a 52-minute composition of mediocrely produced house-inspired beats and lazy lyrics. Rather than marinating in its critical response and searching for inspiration, less than sever months later, we’ve been introduced to an ambitious, full-length joint album with 21 Savage.
However, I tried to approach “Her Loss” with an open mind. I’m a big fan of many of 21 Savage’s (also known as 21) projects and his past collaborations with Drake haven’t been disappointing. The album’s title and cover art of adult dancer, Suki Baby, set up listeners with a certain expectation. Frankly, not a very nuanced or complex one. And, in my opinion, these expectations are aptly fulfilled.
The album introduces itself to listeners with “Rich Flex,” employing a melodic bass and repetitive chorus of Drake asking 21 Savage to “do something” for him. TikTok, as it does, interpreted this in quite the comical sense. Memes of him caricatured as a music video model seductively dancing on 21 have populated the #RichFlex hashtag throughout social media. This is a sentiment I’d like to delve into further: throughout the album, 21 feels like a paid 'street' emblem Drake desperately wants to brag about rather than a true collaborator. Perhaps it’s to distinguish himself away from the abundant Drake memes and employ a harder image, but it’s pretty evident to anyone on a social media platform how this backfired. But seriously, he’s the only rapper in history to grow up in middle-class Toronto, score an acting career at 15, and later rap about how much he “hates privileged rappers.” Okay, Mr. Degrassi.
We’re all somewhat aware that Drake is a cornball. “Her Loss,” instead of separating him from this image, only solidifies it with sleazy, misogynistic songwriting long abandoned by rappers of the same caliber. Bars like “I blow half a million on you h**s, I’m a feminist”, “Shorty say she graduated, she ain’t learn enough” and “Im trynna call a sex symbol to eat my kids up” reveal Drake’s lyrical 'expertise.'
And let’s not forget about his jab at Megan Thee Stallion. In the ninth track, “Circo Loco”, Drake emphatically raps “This b***h lie about getting shots, but she is still a stallion/She doesn't even get the joke, but she still smiling”. Implying that Megan falsified her 2020 shooting by singer Tory Lanez, songwriter Lil Yatchy has come out to defend the lyric, saying it only alludes to lying about plastic surgery. Regardless, the album’s diversity and creativity with its objectification and sexualization of women colorfully surpass all rap album expectations.
There are also just flat-out bad lyrics. Drake proves you don’t have to be ragingly misogynistic to ruin your album with lines such as “Label on my d, for real.” Nice. Or the third track, “On BS,” and its repetition of the chorus “On that bull**** (Okay)” a whopping 36 times. It’s so absurd you begin to think it’s self-aware, but then you remember it’s Drake. “Hours in Silence,” “P***y & Millions,” and “Broke Boys” face the same issue; with a third of each song being made up of melodic yet whiny choruses. In the meantime, 21 also employs mostly generic southern rap lines, yet his delivery somehow always entertains the beat. However, not all rap lyrics need to be profound commentary. The rise of melodic rap has distanced us from southern hip-hop's origin of lyrical refinement, examples being legendary pioneers of the genre like Outkast and Ludacris.
Not all is bad. Unlike “Honestly, Nevermind,” the production of “Her Loss” is perfectly fleshed out. Every beat feels complete and, although nothing experimental, arrives at a safe conclusion of 21st-century classic southern rap. Names on the production credits like Metro Boomin and Tay Keith are familiar for a reason, proving themselves a saving grace to the project as a whole. “Middle of the Ocean” and “3AM on Glenwood”, both solo tracks from Drake and 21 respectively, are perfectly solid tracks. “Middle of the Ocean” takes on a hip-hop flow merged with a violin sample, distinguishing itself from the rest (which all somewhat merge together). “3AM on Glenwood” sees 21’s more introspective lyrics about the entrapping loop of violence in impoverished communities, standing out from his usual repetitive topics. “More M’s,” a duo track, is also a stand-out. Although the lyrics fail to impress, the eerie samples are a 21 and Metro Boomin staple. The track is nostalgic to one of my favorite rap projects of both artists, “Without Warning”. Overall, there are some interesting artistic choices made on the album which definitely deserve a second listen.
But will I really be returning to the album? Probably not. It serves as a helpful cautionary tale of how lazy writing can ruin a wonderfully produced project. Although ambitious and intriguing as a concept, skipping “Her Loss” will not be your own.
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