Drake’s Newest Album “Certified Lover Boy” Is Here…And Maybe That’s All It Is

The multi-platinum superstar rapper has released his latest project “Certified Lover Boy” and it’s leaving a lot to be desired.

It’s here, it’s here: Drake’s much-anticipated sixth studio album Certified Lover Boy is finally out, after months of delays due to Drake’s knee injury. And maybe he should’ve spent some time in the studio revising this project in the meantime. The album feels very familiar–it’s got that signature Drake sound that hasn’t evolved much since his 2016 smash-album hit Views. But gone are the days where this kind of sound is inventive or interesting. Instead, this album feels like a washed-up regurgitation of Drake’s least-interesting hits. 

Image courtesy of Aubrey Graham and Damien Hirst

It’s frustrating to hear Drake get to this place. Aubrey Graham, you are 34 years old. It’s not exciting to hear these songs––tinged with misogyny and unconvincing back-and-forth lyrical explorations on whether he wants to be in love or be a hoe––from Drake anymore. But maybe that’s what he was going for? He does describe this project as a “combination of toxic masculinity and acceptance of truth, which is inevitably heartbreaking” in the Apple Music notes for this project, so at least he’s self-aware. But that self-awareness doesn’t make the project any less unexciting or uninspired. 

It’s an album that basically ignores the mass appeal of Drake’s music, and leans into his most played-out tendencies. Remember those exciting nights in 2016 when Drake and his brand of what could only be described as celebrations of the prowess of hot girls (before we had such a name for the category) dominated the entire music scene? Or, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, those Drake songs about love and heartbreak that had everyone screaming his lyrics at the top of their lungs over their exes? Yeah, we don’t get ANY of that on this project, and to Drake’s detriment. Instead, we get a salty and angsty song like “Girls Want Girls” that decries anxiety over women deciding to be with other women instead of being mistreated by men, which is a song that is unsettling to say the least, and weird as hell to put it less mildly. It’s a petulant energy that is a little ugly to listen to from a rapper with as much experience as Drake. 

The rapper also invites a kind of disturbing controversy with a track on this album that is troubling as hell. With his song “TSU”––a supposed homage to Texas Southern University, Drake writes a story about trying to help a young stripper with her goals of becoming an entrepreneur. The song, wherein Drake recounts a relationship with very questionable power dynamics, features a sample from R. Kelly’s song “Half a Baby.” R. Kelly has been placed into the spotlight recently because he is on trial in federal court for counts of sex-trafficking and racketeering. And, on this specific track, it feels sick and twisted to hear Drake associating with such a singer. R. Kelly has a lengthy history of allegedly manipulating, abusing, and sex-trafficking young Black girls and women across the country. And, this track, wherein the 34-year-old international superstar shouts out a university and then describes a story about a savior-dynamic with a young stripper looking to leave the industry to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams, feels like a dangerous-yet-knowing nod to behaviors that should worry fans and critics of Drake alike.

The only track of interest on the album is one where Drake isn’t even present. “Yebba’s Heartbreak” which features singer YEBBA, is the standout of the album. It’s a slow, interlude-type of song that is filled with yearning and unrequited love. But Drake doesn’t appear once in the entire song, and that’s the reason why it’s so interesting. It’s a great break from the back-and-forth game Drake plays lyrically on the album, where he jumps between wanting to be in love, being with a woman and hating it, being unfaithful and sorry about it, and denouncing the idea of love to submit to the player lifestyle. It’s the only earnest track on the album, and that says a lot about the entire body of work from the rapper who made his stardom with earnest songs like “Marvin’s Room.”

Certified Lover Boy is nothing that Drake had promised us, but maybe it’s also all he has left to give us. There are no standout tracks that’ll take the club scene by storm like his previous bodies of work possessed, and there are no redeeming or exciting songs that’ll have anyone hitting replay. When Drake sings “I’m in too deep” on the track “N 2 Deep,” it sounds like more of an omen about where he’s at in his career than where he’s at in his romantic relationship. It seems like he’s in too deep with his obsession over his own fame, the loyalty of his friends, his ego, and his ability to be with the women he wants, and his album suffers all the more for it.

Listen to “Certified Lover Boy” by Drake for yourself, available now to stream wherever you get your music, here.

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