Drake Sounds Out of Place on Honestly, Nevermind

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It looks like Drake is in his House Music era. And honestly, we should’ve all seen it coming. At midnight on Friday (June 17), the “Way 2 Sexy” rapper released a surprise album and new music video. The album, Honestly Nevermind, comes just nine months after his Grammy-nominated effort, Certified Lover Boy. This project is new and unexpected – not because it is a recently revealed surprise, but because Drake went full on “oontz oontz” with it.

For most of his career Drake has been a musical chameleon, nabbing bits and pieces from different genres and cultures and turning them into digestible, and sometimes critically acclaimed, pieces of art that dominate our cultural zeitgeist. Historically, Drake’s music has been good. Much of it has been great, culturally defining even. His method has worked… until now.

The album caps at 14 tracks and one feature, 21 Savage on the album’s closer “Jimmy Cooks.” Grammy-award winning, South African DJ, Black Coffee is a major collaborator on this album. It’s not the first time the two have worked together, The South African House veteran saw a feature on Drake’s 2017 album More Life on the song “Get It Together,” also featuring Jorja Smith. On Honestly, Nevermind Drake also reunited with long-time collaborator, Noah “40” Shebib, his manager Oliver El-Khatib and engineer Noel Cadastre.

Honestly, Nevermind is dedicated to the late fashion designer Virgil Abloh, a close friend of Drake’s and an avid lover of house music. Alongside dedicating the album to Abloh in his letter on Apple Music, the late artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection is memorialized through a sample in the song “Sticky.” With this album, the global superstar also dropped a new music video for the track, “Falling Back,” on Friday. The video sees Drake marrying 23 different women at a joint wedding. By his side is his best man, Tristan Thompson, who has been in the news for a number of cheating scandals against partner Khloe Kardashian.

The tone of the album follows the usual toxic, passive aggressive, sad-boy-hours-esque theme that Drake has built his image around. I mean even the title, Honestly, Nevermind, is a snide pass. Beyond that, lyrics such as “All I needed from you was to hold me down when things aren’t working/ For some reason, I believed in you” in “Texts Go Green” and “I found a new muse/That’s bad news for you/Why would I keep you around?” in “A Keeper” are all typical for the 35-year-old rapper. What is quite the surprise with this album is his decision to take on a sound no one expected him to embrace: rave music. We have previously seen him dabble in this space, most notably on fan favorite “Passionfruit,” but releasing one song with some house inspirations is incredibly different to releasing an entire Dance album.

Bearing an entirely new sound that we have never seen Drake tackle at length before, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone, perhaps even the rapper himself, that this album would be divisive. That is to be expected when an artist tries something new. But the problem is that the album simply does not feel like Drake himself. Considering the resurgence of Dance and Disco-Pop music over the last few years, it feels like Drake is once again trying to tap into an emerging trend, but this time, it didn’t land.

I get trying to be innovative, and I appreciate when artists switch up their sound and try something new, but that is precisely the problem. This doesn’t feel like innovation. Instead, it feels like Drake is attempting to tap into a cultural sphere, a genre that already exists and where people are doing great in it. Many recent artists have made the jump into disco or dance pop, The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles and Lizzo to name a few. For them it was gradual, and it fits. Unfortunately for Drake, this feels a little too far from his core brand, too abrupt and truthfully, like he’s a little too late to the game.

It seems as if Drizzy recently completed the album, considering references made to the arrest of Young Thug, Gunna and YSL in the new music video as well as on the tracks “Sticky” and “Jimmy Cooks.” The latter of which is one of the only tracks on the LP to follow the old-school rap sound we all know and love from Drake.

In the end, we may never know Drake’s motivations behind why he would choose to take his album in this direction, but maybe he knows something we don’t. Though the album came as a surprise to the general public, he’s made it very clear that this was not an overnight task for him.

“I work with every breath in my body cause it’s the work not air that makes me feel alive” he said, “That’s some real detrimental shit but that’s that shit my perfectionist mind doesn’t really mind because no one knows whats on my mind when I go to sleep at 9 & wake up at 5 – unless I say it in rhyme.”

Read Drake’s full statement for Honestly, Nevermind and watch the music video for “Falling Back” below.

I let my humbleness turn to numbness at times letting time go by knowing I got the endurance to catch it another time

I work with every breath in my body cause it’s the work not air that makes me feel alive
That’s some real detrimental shit but that’s that shit my perfectionist mind doesn’t really mind because no one knows whats on my mind when I go to sleep at 9 & wake up at 5 – unless I say it in rhyme

I can’t remember the last time someone put they phone down, looked me in the eyes and asked my current insight on the times

But I remember every single time someone shined a light in my eyes
I purposely try to forget what went on between some ppl and I because I know I’m not a forgiving guy even when I try

My urge for revenge wins the game against my good guy inside every single fckn time
I got plans I can’t talk about with more than like 4 guys because the last time I shared em with someone on the outside…well that’s another story for another night

I was tryna get thru that statement to get to saying I’m not @ a time in my life where pats on the shoulder help get me by

I’ll take loyalty over an oh my & emoji fire

I know if it was a dark night where all the odds were against my side & my skill went to whoever took my life they’d done me off with a big smile & maybe evn post it for some likes

I know everyone that tells me they love me doesn’t love me all the time especially when im doing better than alright & they have to watch it from whatever point they at in their life

I got here being realistic

I didn’t get here being blind

I know whats what and especially what and who is by my side

Honestly…Nevermind.

DEDICATED TO OUR BROTHER V
—Drake

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