If Drake’s 2011 Grammy-winning sophomore effort Take Care stands as his most personal and introspective musical offering then Views is his nostalgic opus yearning for his humbler Jane and Weston beginnings while simultaneously recognizing that what he has become will never allow him to go back.
Views starts as something of a cruel winter dream. It takes Drake back to the centre of where it all started — the 6, for lack of a better term. The album begins with the 29-year-old rapper, and recurring singer, lamenting former friendships on “Keep the Family Close.” It’s a sombre realization of betrayal that ends with him coming to the conclusion that family always trumps friends as he sings “Guess I should’ve tried to keep my family closer / Much closer.”
After turning the 6 upside down on “9,” Drake gets “on some DMX shit” and takes a page right out of the Ruff Ryder don’s classic R&B flavoured joint “How’s It Goin’ Down” on “U With Me?” which stands as one of the better cuts on the album. Co-produced by Kanye West and OVO production king 40, it’s the quintessential Drake track with a lush ‘90s hip-hop song brought back in a new and inventive way for a modern audience.
That trend continues on “Weston Road Flows,” a tender throwback sampling “Mary’s Joint” and having it echo subtly as his backdrop. It’s truly a trip through Drake’s upbringing, referencing everything from childhood friends to Toronto artists Glenn Lewis and Jelleestone — who Drake salutes with lyrics from his 2001 hit “Money (Part 1) as he gleefully admits “I’m happiest when I can buy what I want / Get high when I want.”
Another standout track comes in the form “With You” which features PARTYNEXTDOOR and a brief Jeremih cameo. Boasting a more up-tempo beat that serves as something of a precursor to summer vibe tracks like “Controlla” and “One Dance,” the Jamaican influence is certainly prevalent throughout many of Drake’s more head-bopping songs.
In typical Drake fashion, however, there is still plenty room for street bangers. Those come in the form of songs like “Hype,” “Still Here” and “Pop Style.” The premier example of this sound comes on the Future-featured “Grammys” which sees producers 40 and Southside linking up to cultivate a song reminiscent of the What a Time to Be Alive era with slightly more polish and shine.
Following a strong individual performance from Majid Al Maskati (of Majid Jordan fame) on “Summers Over Interlude,” Drake delves into “Fire & Desire,” a song that could’ve easily appeared on Take Care with a hauntingly beautiful Brandy sample and the “we’re perfect, but she got a man” subject matter we’ve grown to expect and love from him.
So the people want to know: does Views live up to the hype? Well, that really depends on which Drake sound you love most. If you love the in-your-face bravado of Nothing Was the Sameor If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late then you might be slightly, just slightly, let down. But if you’re a Take Care loyalist, as a large portion of his fan base is, then this album packs just enough reminiscing about lost love and past friendships to balance out the big summer chunes that make you rock, rock, rock, rock, rock your body.