— Drizzy (@Drake) April 29, 2016
VIA USA TODAY
The wait is finally over.
An agonizing one year and nine months ago, Drake announced his fourth solo album (originally titled Views from the 6, but shortened simply to Views this past week). Not that it’s been radio silence ever since: The Toronto rapper had his biggest year yet in 2015, thanks in part to a surprise mixtape (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late), joint Future album (What a Time to Be Alive) and meme-able megahit (Hotline Bling).
Coming off last year’s victory lap, you’re probably wondering how Views stacks up to Drake’s recent output. For starters, it’s a much more chilled-out effort than expected, hewing closer to 2011’s sensitive Take Care than the chest-thumping bombast of buzz single Summer Sixteen (his upcoming tour’s namesake, although not included here). Clocking in at 20 songs and nearly an hour and a half, Views is equal parts intriguing and lethargic — overstuffed and at times repetitive, but elevated by mesmerizing production and some of Drizzy’s strongest vocals to date.
Like any album, we’ll need to spend a bit more time with this hometown love letter before stamping it with a final verdict. But for now, here are six must-hear tracks that caught our attention:
(Warning: Songs contain some NSFW language)
U With Me?
Sure, we’re disappointed that Kanye West’s bars were cut from Pop Style, but he still shares co-producing credits with 40 on this twitchy, DMX-sampling ballad. Grilling his lover about their relationship status, Drake effortlessly soars into his upper register on the lurid third verse, in which he ruefully recounts their assignations.
With You (feat. PartyNextDoor)
The first (and arguably best) guest spot on Views belongs to Drake’s OVO signee PartyNextDoor, whose smooth vocals meld perfectly with the rapper’s husky croon. But it’s the understated and entirely hypnotic production by Murda Beatz that makes the song, which is unfortunately one of the album’s shortest at just over 3 minutes.
Faithful (feat. Pimp C & dvsn)
Up until now, Drake has spent most of Views writing off fake friends and twisting the knife further into his broken heart. Which is precisely why this pulsing bedroom jam is such a refreshing change of pace, highlighted by some of Drizzy’s cleverest double entendres yet.
Pop music has been struck with a case of island fever, as evidenced by the dancehall influences washing over recent songs from Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and now Drake. Although Popcaan’s verses have been scrapped for the album, this laidback love declaration still sizzles with a sample of Beenie Man’s Tear Off Mi Garment.
This is Drake storytelling of the highest caliber, as he winningly details a petty argument going down at the mall. Guaranteed, this breezy number contains the greatest Cheesecake Factory reference you’ll hear in a rap song all year. (We love going there, too, Drizzy.)
Too Good (feat. Rihanna)
Song-of-summer prognosticators, take note. The superstar duo delivers yet another stellar collaboration on this tropical-flavored duet: the pair’s fourth musical outing, and a low-key but just-as-steamy sequel to springtime smash Work. Seriously, you two, just give us a joint album already.