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Certified Lover Boy track by track review: Drake successfully repackages love, regret and reflection like no other – even if it is overblown

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After months of keeping us waiting, Drake has finally dropped his new album, Certified Lover Boy, on us, and it is definitely a ride.

The 34-year-old released his new offering on Friday, sending fans into meltdown with samples of Right Said Fred, collaborations with Jay Z and Travis Scott, and the name dropping of a certain Ayesha Curry.

But is Certified Lover Boy actually worth all the hype around it?

Lucky for you, we’ve put together a track-by-track review, as well as some of the most quotable lyrics for your Instagram captions.

1. Champagne Poetry

Over a spliced sample of Masego’s Navajo – which itself includes a sped-up sample of The Singers Unlimited’s 1972 cover of The Beatles’ Michelle – Drake kicks off proceedings with a two-part, lyrical thesis that crams in more Instagram captions than influencers will know what to do with. Recognising this himself, he raps: ‘Under a picture lives some of the greatest quotes from me.’ Elsewhere, Drizzy talks fatherhood, co-parenting, trust, the spoils of fame, and loneliness. There’s a lot to unpack on this doo-wop meets rap grand slam. 5/5

Quotable: ‘Seen too many brothers get 25 from the boys / I’d rather see all of ’em get 25 from the Lord / And if the last negotiation made you pay me 25 / Well this is the perfect time to give me 25 more / I’m bigger now than before.’

2. Papi’s Home

Only Drake could turn an obscure Montell Jordan sample into a track about something other rappers. Having been at the top of rap’s totem pole for the past 10 years – something acknowledged this summer when he was awarded Billboard’s Artist of the Decade – it’s fair to say that Drizzy has influenced his fair share of artists. On Papi’s Home, he alerts his contemporaries to the fact that he’s back and that he’s better than ever. If that wasn’t enough, he recruits Nicki Minaj as ‘mama’ to flex on her underlings too. 4/5

Quotable: ‘Rap n*****s doing weak features for a pop artist ’cause they popped down / Used to wanna throw the Roc up, n*****s know how I rock now.’

3. Girls Want Girls (Feat. Lil Baby)

This is the first track on the album that hears Drake dip into his singing bag, complete with arguably the catchiest hook on the project. While there isn’t much substance to it, underneath the explicit tales of girl-on-girl action, platinum player lines and Drake’s bizarre claim that he’s a lesbian, the alluring production – courtesy of OZ, Ambezza and 40 – steals the show, sounding like something that could have been recorded during Drake’s Take Care era. 3/5

Quotable: ‘Starin’ at your dress ’cause it’s see through / Yeah, talkin’ all the s**t that you done been through / Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too / Ayy, girls want girls where I’m from.’

4. In The Bible (Feat. GIVĒON & Lil Durk)

Here, Drake questions the hypocrisy of the church-going women who opt to throw shade on him because of his sexual past yet won’t acknowledge their own ‘sins’. A sluggish and dreary low-point on Certified Lover Boy, the track welcomes an injection of energy from Lil Durk midway through as well as a beat switch towards the end of the record, but even these aren’t enough to make you want to return to it. 2/5

Quotable: ‘Think I’m Tiger Woods, the way I’m teed off thе 17.’

5. Love All (Feat. Jay Z)

Opening with the same ‘previously on’ skit featured on The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death album, you’d be forgiven for thinking your streaming provider was on the blink. However, stick with it because what unfolds is a collaborative rap masterclass anchored by arguably Jay Z’s most outspoken verse in years. As the smokey backdrop plays, channeling the same vibes as the pair’s Pound Cake collaboration from 2013, Drizzy and Jigga address foes and disloyal friends, with one key message: never mistake kindness for weakness. 5/5

Quotable: ‘This ain’t the same Shawn that you knew once / I don’t shine shoes, uh, this ain’t what you want, no / All that back and forth on the internet / N****, we don’t tennis that, y’all gotta do something.’

6. Fair Trade (Feat. Travis Scott)

Shining a light on fellow Toronto artist Charlotte Day Wilson, Drizzy samples part of the rising R&B artist’s 2019 track Mountains. In a moment of clarity, he realises that cutting toxic people out of his life in exchange for peace and happiness isn’t as big a cross to bear as some might think. As for Travis, he recalls a few dark times in his life and explains that he would rather break bread than watch his friends break down; he also lifts the lid on how he stores certain people in his phone contacts  – ‘Scrollin’ through my call log, by emojis, how I’m savin’ ‘em’. 4/5

Quotable: ‘I’ve been losin’ friends and findin’ peace / Honestly that sound like a fair trade to me.’

7. Way 2 Sexy (Feat. Future & Young Thug)

Who would have thought that Right Said Fred’s cheesy 1991 pop hit would be the foundation of a Drake record released 30 years later? No one, surely. Sometimes left field experimental punts work, but in this case not even guest spots from Future and Young Thug can’t save it from taking a nose dive into an abyss of claptrap tackiness. 0/5

Quotable: ‘Mama used to be on disability but gave me this ability / And now she walkin’ with her head high and her back straight.’

8. TSU

Similar in narrative to his 2011 song ‘The Real Her’, TSU is the story of a stripper set to a backdrop of chattering hi-hats and airy synths – but that’s not the only thing embedded into the production. Besides sampling tracks by NSYNC and Justin Timberlake, Drake’s decision to use a snippet of the video version of R Kelly’s 1998 single Half on a Baby warrants a discussion on morality. The R&B singer is currently on trial for allegations of racketeering, sex trafficking and child pornography; he also married R&B singer Aaliyah when she was just 15-years-old and is alleged to have had sexual relations with her while she was underage. Drake, as a self confessed Aaliyah fan who has a tattoo of the late singer on his back, really should have thought this one through more. TSU may be a solid record, but can you listen to it in good conscience knowing that R Kelly has been credited? 3/5 

Quotable: ‘I make it rain in this b***h, I make it snow in this b***h / She tryna get out of the mix, shawty is goin’ legit / Shawty is goin’ legit, me, I’m supportin’ this s**t.’

9. N 2 Deep (Feat. Future)

This introspective cut hears Drake communicate his feelings both with and without alcohol. Before entering the club, he’s tactful and cautious as he woos his love interest over a gritty, slowed-down guitar sample taken from Bun B’s Get Throwed. After passing through the velvet rope, a juiced-up Drake throws caution to the wind, armed with endless amounts of dutch courage, he confesses his inner most thoughts and fantasies. Future sets the scene – ‘We turn the studio into a strip club.’ 3/5

Quotable: ‘I just touched the city with the G-block stainers / And we got it doubted by some fifth ward strangers / You know what it means when I twist these fingers / Me and you been on a first name basis.’

10. Pipe Down

The shimmering production on Pipe Down is one of the album’s highlights; the more you listen, the more you get lost in it. As Drake dwells on love and pines for honesty and communication, he realises that no matter what he does or buys for the woman he’s with she’ll never be what he wants her to be. But who is this mystery woman? Certain lines on the track suggest Drizzy might be talking about Kim Kardashian. ‘Why does your ex think we beefin’, is that man alright? / That n**** can’t even look at me, he fell off twice,’ Drake raps, potentially referencing the very public beef he and Kanye West are currently embroiled in. 5/5

Quotable: ‘Angel eyes, but you’ve been giving me hell all night.’

11. Yebba’s Heartbreak (Feat. Yebba)

Drake enlists Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Yebba for the next instalment of his long-running interlude series. The skits, which are named after different women, have included Jorja’s Interlude (featuring Jorja Smith), Bria’s Interlude (featuring Omarion), and Cece’s Interlude. The somber, piano-led ‘Yebba’s Heartbreak’ hears the Memphis singer trying to figure out the best way to communicate her love, giving Certified Lover Boy listeners a breather from the album’s regular scheduled programming. 3/5

Quotable: ‘My single line of stars in noon/ Reflection of the very moon, I do.’

12. No Friends In the Industry

This very direct moment on Certified Lover Boy hears Drake take issue with the music industry and the lack of respect he’s been shown by those in it. Dropping scathing lyrical bombs over the rapid-fire Three 6 Mafia-influenced soundscape, he wants his opponents to know that he’s not scared of anyone and that he’s been at the top for a very longtime: ‘When I signed my first deal, that s**t came through a fax / That should let you know how long I been out here runnin’ laps.’ This is Drake at his best, rapping with intention and vigour, proving he’s much more than just a chart-topping pop star. 5/5

Quotable: ‘And all them tweets and all them posts / Ain’t got the type of time to be playin’ with you folk / I had a Richard prior to these n****s, that’s the joke / I’m really down to die behind these versus in my notes.’

13. Knife Talk (Feat. 21 Savage & Project Pat)

The tough-talking continues with help from 21 Savage and a show-stealing sample from Three 6 Mafia affiliate Project Pat. Sharpening their knives to go to war, it’s all about gang talk as Drizzy and 21 go back and forth with a few short verses interspersed with eerie piano riffs and the haunting squeals of high-pitched violins. 21 Savage is definitely the more believable here – even if Drake does throw in a few great lines. 3/5

Quotable: ‘When I see you, better put that f**kin’ pride to the side / Many times, plenty times, I survived / Beef is live, spoiler alert, this n**** dies.’

14. 7AM On Bridle Path

The latest instalment of Drake’s AM/PM series sees him take inspiration from Bridle Path, the neighbourhood in North York, Toronto, where his multi-million dollar mansion resides. Reflecting on life, love and everything else in-between, he raps for almost four minutes straight with no hook, sliding effortlessly across the glossy sonics provided by Maneesh, knd, Dez Wright and Cardo. Yet another album standout – especially for the Instagram generation searching for that perfect caption – it’s further proof that when Drake raps, he can rap with the best of them. 5/5

Quotable: ‘Told you I’m aimin’ straight for the head, not aiming to please.’

15. Race On My Mind

Drake has always had this innate ability to turn relationship issues into fire tracks; Race On My Mind is no different. Manoeuvring his way through a sea of fluorescent synths and feathery harps, Drizzy, who blends his signature style of simp singing and largely unfeigned rapping, finds himself on the receiving end of a drunk lover. Almost playing like a gender-switch of his love drunk anthem Marvin’s Room, word is the track’s about his ex-girlfriend and ‘muse’, Canadian TV personality Keisha Chanté. 4/5

Quotable: ‘Love showin’ the cakes, you know that they eat it up / Love touching the road as soon as it’s heatin’ up  / Invited you over, you said that you showin’ up / All them spelling mistakes, I know that you drunk as f**k.’

16. Fountains (Feat. Tems)

A Drake album isn’t complete without an afrobeat-infused track – especially ever since the overwhelming success of his global smash One Dance back in 2016. Enter: Fountains, a sultry lovers anthem that conjures up images of a bountiful romance on an abandoned exotic island, complete with waterfalls and all. Packed full of all the Sade feels, the icing on the cake of this bubbly and euphoric record is the dreamy vocals of Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems. 5/5

Quotable: ‘I got nothing to admire, taste certain / Baby, longing you make me feel something / I got my eyes on you, pull down the curtain / I’ll be patient with you, no more fighting.’

17. Get Along Better (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Over a bed of tearful synths and ponderous keys, a balladering Drake gets real about heartbreak and moving on. The certified lover boy loses one love but winds up with her best friend, and trying to explain that this wasn’t revenge but instead a genuine attraction. Delicately cutthroat, Drizzy and Dolla $ign hit the album’s key theme squarely on the nose with this one. 3/5

Quotable: ‘Trust me, this ain’t ’bout revenge / But now I get along better with your friend.’

18. You Only Live Twice (Feat. Rick Ross & Lil Wayne)

This braggadocios banger plays like an unofficial sequel to Drake’s Bay Area anthem, The Motto; it’s no longer YOLO, it’s YOLT (doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?). Crashing symbols and blistering boom bap drum kicks lay the perfect foundation for Rozay, Weezy and Drake to talk their s**t. While the Bink! and B-Nasty produced track is a celebration of riches, Drake takes a brief moment to address producer Swizz Beatz, who during an IG Live last year called him a ‘p***y’. Drake raps: ‘Yeah, I never did you nothin’ and you play like we family, huh? / Next thing, you wanna shoot me down, it can’t be love / Not sure where you was tryna send it, it can’t be up / That day you sounded like a b***h, you fancy, huh?’ 5/5

Quotable: ‘Not sure if you know but I’m actually Michael Jackson / The man I see in the mirror is actually goin’ platinum.’

19. ‘IMY2’ (Feat. Kid Cudi)

Showing he’s not above repairing relationships, IMY2 hears Drake team up with Kid Cudi for the very first time (aside from their fleeting appearances on Kanye West’s gargantuan posse cut All Of The Lights’), arriving after a brief public fallout the two had back in 2016. This deeply introspective cut hears the pair slip off into a dream state, tapping into their deep inner selves and testing the limits of imagination using a woman as the catalyst. It also features some profound words of wisdom from later rapper Juice WRLD. 3/5

Quotable: ‘All my n****s rally ’round me / Bold n****s gettin’ real italics ’round me.’

20. F**king Fans (Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)

With PARTYNEXTDOOR in tow, Drake cops to some of his past failings as far as artist-fan relationships go. Moping about the spoils of the lifestyle he leads, it’s hard to feel sorry for him when he’s essentially disguising a low-key brag as vulnerable reflection. Open to interpretation, there’s a few lines that could be Drake talking about the mishandling of his romantic dealings with Rihanna (or Jorja Smith). ‘Hard for me to justify the women I was into / Especially when the whole entire world wished they had you,’ he raps on the song’s third verse, revealing he was caught sleeping with fans while involved with a high-profile figure. It might not be the greatest moment on Certified Lover Boy, but it’ll keep Champagne Papi stans pondering. 2/5

Quotable: ‘We both getting rich but the trust getting broke / Tear me down with words but I know that’s how you cope.’

21. The Remorse

Saving the best for last, Drake’s thank you note to everyone involved in his rise to superstardom is him at his absolute best. The definitive sound of 40’s nuanced keys and sped-up vocal samples – which are synonymous with his rhyme partner’s success – are profoundly thought-provoking on their own, even without Drizzy’s brand of freehearted cognisance. Overflowing with gratitude for his team who he says he could ‘never pay back’, this is his Crew Love part two. Drake always seems to come through in the clutch when it comes to closing out his albums, and here is no different. The Remorse is the quintessential Drake record. 5/5

Quotable: ‘Dislocated shoulder, it’s hard to be always reaching back / All these IOU’s, it’s hard for me to be keeping track.’


Credit: Original article published here.

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