By Terrance Turner
June 16, 2022
In a surprise move, rapper Drake announced today that his seventh album, “Honestly, Nevermind,” will be released at midnight. Drake announced the news today via Instagram, featuring the album cover and its spray-painted font.
According to the New York Times, “The new album’s producers include longtime collaborators like Noah Shebib (known as 40), Oliver El-Khatib (who is also one of Drake’s managers) and Noel Cadastre, as well as Black Coffee, a South African D.J. who came up through the underground and in recent years has worked with stars like David Guetta and Usher.
In a note attached to the album on Apple Music, Drake said that “Honestly, Nevermind” was dedicated to Virgil Abloh, the influential fashion designer who had a long association with Kanye West” — one of Drake’s rivals and the source of some of his (many) feuds.
The album comes just nine months after the release of Certified Lover Boy, which featured a dazzling list of guest stars: ‘Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Travis Scott, and others. But thematically the album focused on what by now have become familiar topics to Drake listeners: casual romances, petty rap feuds, feelings of betrayal. Critics took note of the sameness.
Entertainment Weekly noted: “With scarcely little notice paid to the pandemic or the concurrent Black Lives Matter reckoning, there’s often a stinging sense of déjà vu to CLB, not unlike watching the eighth season of a sitcom and growing hyper-aware of all the recycled jokes and the actors’ laugh lines.”
The Independent was withering: “Certified Lover Boy‘s greatest crime is just how bland and boring it is. There’s very little here that Drake has not done better or more emphatically elsewhere; his album is deprived of any kind of experimentation or insight. He rose to the top baring his soul. Now it feels like there’s no soul to bare.”
Pitchfork noted: “Yet “Certified Lover Boy,” a long-awaited album that was delayed by more than a year, exists in the same vein: not as some refined, cohesive work, but an overlong dump of tracks that can be briefly exhilarating, quickly infectious and absent of any noticeable evolution or risk from someone who might credibly be considered the world’s biggest artist. It’s an album that feels like the work of a fan curating an enjoyable but ultimately unadventurous mix of Drake’s works from the last five years or so.”
Despite the critical indifference, the album sold over 600,000 copies in its first week and shot to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, overtaking Kanye West’s Donda with what was at the time the biggest debut week of 2021. The LP includes the Right Said Fred-sampling, Young Thug and Future-featuring “I’m Too Sexy” and the 21 Savage and Project Pat-featuring “Knife Talk,” according to Pitchfork.
UPDATE: The new album is out, and it is unlikely to satisfy those who don’t feel Drake is evolving as an artist. After a promising saxophone intro, the album segues into “Falling Back”, with Drake mournfully crooning over percolating dancehall beats.
“How do you say to my face, ‘Time heals’, then go and leave me again?” he complains, while the music video bizarrely shows him marrying an endless line of at least 20 women — in a ceremony featuring Tristan Thompson, of all people.
Another catchy dance beat opens “Texts to Green”, following the formula set by its predecessor. “If I come around you, can I be myself?” Drake asks in the first few bars, adding, “Why should I fake it anymore?” He aims the track at yet another unnamed woman, insisting, “I moved on so long ago.” But the lyrics of this five-minute lament suggest otherwise.
On “Currents,” he offers more Auto-Tuned vocals over a track that seems to include the sound of bedsprings (what is that squeaking sound?!?) And on “A Keeper,” he directs his ire at — you guessed it — an ex. “I found a new muse,” he sings, but has he found any new material? When he asks, “Why would I keep you around?” the more pressing question is: Why should we keep listening?
This story will be updated.