By Rohail Spear || Arts and Leisure Editor
Certified Lover Boy, Drake’s sixth studio album, is a reminder of Drake’s potential but falls short of what it could be. Sonically, it sounds amazing, but Drake’s refusal to venture into new territory, even a little bit, will turn most audiences looking for something different away.
The album is clean and crisp to the core. Expensive trap beats will get your head nodding; melodic verses will have you humming along. Every song simply sounds good. Clearly, Drake (and his four or five other writers and four or five other producers) know how to write a hit. If Drake’s goal with this album was to knock Donda off of the charts, he will most likely succeed.
Unfortunately, the pros of this album are also the cons. While each song sounds flawless, every song sounds rehearsed. While each song has hit potential. every song sounds like another Drake song. The predictable rhythm and melodic switch-ups become tiresome after 86 minutes. Of course, this is most likely intentional. As one of the biggest rappers in the world, Drake may be thinking, “Why fix what isn’t broken?” Well, because it gets boring.
One of the most common complaints about Drake is his self-pitying, adolescent-esque lyrics. Here, he finds some room to grow. On “Fair Trade,” he realizes that “losin’ friends and findin’ peace” is a fair trade. The self-awareness he displays on “Champagne Poetry” is refreshing: “I know I tend to talk about how I got a fortune on me;” indeed, money has been a favorite subject of his in recent albums. Of course, in the same song, he complains about how “his parents divorce is on [him]” and how his “heart feel vacant and lonely,” the latter of which not only sounds self-pitying but also childish. Say what you want about the song “Girls Want Girls,” but it simply does not make sense: “Say that you’re a lesbian, girl, me too.” How can Drake be a lesbian? Why would he say that he’s a lesbian? What metaphorical meaning could this line possibly have?
Drake has claimed that this album is about toxic masculinity. More specifically, it can be said that this album is about how Drake has been affected by toxic masculinity. In “Way 2 Sexy,” Drake is “way too sexy to go unprotected” and “way too sexy to accept requests.” He knows “you never seen the top” because he’s “standing at the top” in “Papi’s Home.” While these lines could be viewed as Drake having a healthy level of confidence, it is more plausible that Drake feels the need to be at the top and rap about how he’s at the top so that everyone knows he’s at the top. Whether this is the result of toxic masculinity or something else is debatable, but if the lines are the result of a rap star feeling society’s pressure to be the best, the lyrics certainly become more digestible.
Certified Lover Boy will most likely be certified platinum in no time. The record includes several go-to club songs that get the base pumping and the tik tokers tik toking. On a deeper level, the record will not satiate listeners looking for anything more. Certified Lover Boy is an expensively produced album with gorgeous melodies that, by the end of the album, get old. It’s good, but you’ve heard it before.
Sophomore Rohail Spear is the Arts & Leisure Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.