First Impressions of Drake’s New Album ‘Honestly, Nevermind’

Drake 'Honestly, Nevermind' album visual


Image via Drake/YouTube

Nine months after dropping Certified Lover Boy, Drake is back with more.

Following days of rumors that he was preparing to release a summer mixtape, he announced that he was actually getting ready to drop his “seventh studio album,” and it was coming very soon. As in, immediately. By midnight, the full 14-song album had arrived: Honestly, Nevermind.

At the end of his radio show on Sirius XM right before midnight, Drake hinted that this isn’t all we’ll hear from him this summer. He’s also preparing to drop another Scary Hours EP and a poetry book. But for now, it’s time to dive into the music on Honestly, Nevermind.

Members of the Complex Music staff—Jessica McKinney, Jordan Rose, and Eric Skelton—came together to share our first-listen thoughts after a few initial spins, including our picks for the best and worst songs. Here are our first impressions of Drake’s new album Honestly, Nevermind.

Eric: “Sticky.” It’s the only song on the album where he really raps over one of these dance beats, and it sounds great. (Although, I’m going to need a few drinks before having the courage to sing along to the “you know how sticky it get” hook in public.) Besides that, “Falling Back,” “Texts Go Green,” and “Jimmy Cooks” are also early favorites.

Jordan: Even though “Jimmy Cooks” sounds very similar to every other menacing song Drake and 21 Savage have made together, it still slaps. The smooth, jazzy beat in the first half is amazing and part of me wishes Drake had included at least two more verses like this on the album, but it’s a dance project so I understand.

Jessica: “Sticky” and “Liability” are tied for me. “Sticky” is the more uptempo track that gives Drake a chance to try a more playful delivery, while “Liability” is a chopped-up, distorted cut that sounds ideal for a late-night cruise.

Eric: “Down Hill.” Maybe this will grow on me, but parts of it gave me Disney soundtrack vibes, and I got bored halfway through. I didn’t love this one.

Jordan: I can do without “Massive.” The synthy beat is too drawn-out and the song is too long overall, and Drake does this weird thing where he sings off-beat for an extended period of time. It’s a techno dance song that somehow still sounds awkward on a dance album.

Jessica: The tracklist is concise and the songs blend nicely into one another, so there isn’t anything that sticks out to me as a skip.

Eric: Drake finally took some big risks and focused on one cohesive sound. On the last few projects, he was stuck in a routine of trying to please every type of fan he has, and he ended up with bloated, formulaic albums that tried to do too much at once. This time, he picked one lane (singing over dance music) and fully committed himself to it, pushing himself out of his usual formula. I never thought we’d get a cohesive 14-song album from Drake again—especially one with this much experimentation—and I’m very happy with the surprise. He finally stopped trying to appease every type of fan he has in a single album.

Jordan: Drake incorporating Jersey club beats into his dance album is a major moment for the scene. He pulls heavily from other club scenes, like Chicago house music, Baltimore club, and others, but Jersey club’s influence is obvious on tracks like “Currents” or “Sticky,” where its bed-squeaking beat and thumping bass is heard in the background. Jersey club has become more mainstream lately through virality on Tiktok, and now that Drake is using it, there’s even more visibility.

Jessica: I love the cohesion of this album. In the past, Drake has tried to please everyone, incorporating both rap and singing tracks on every album, and he’s usually ended up with 20+ songs. I love that he only appealed to one side of his artistry on this album, making a 14-track project that is more fluid and enjoyable to listen to all the way through. And I like that this record plays into the summer vibes, which leans into one of Drake’s strengths: creating atmospheric music that captures the essence of summer.

Eric: On first listen, I was a little disappointed he didn’t rap more on this album. After all the backlash he got from CLB, I was hoping for a couple more songs where he’d rap with a chip on his shoulder. But honestly, it’s a minor complaint. I’m sure he’ll rap more on the next Scary Hours EP (coming soon) and hearing him fully commit to one style throughout a whole album makes up for it.

Jordan: This is a dance album made for the summer time, which unfortunately might limit replayability for me outside of certain settings. I can’t imagine listening to a lot of these songs outside of a party or club, and many of them sound similar. You have to be in a specific mood for Honestly, Nevermind, as opposed to most other Drake albums that maintain some form of sonic diversity and have tracks that fit different occasions.

Jessica: Drake has always had a reputation for taking from other musical styles, but what I’ve appreciated in the past is his openness to share the spotlight with the original artists from that scene. I do think this was a missed opportunity to feature more new house music artists on this project.

Eric: Basically everything about this album surprised me. I was fully expecting to hear a petty Drake with a chip on his shoulder after the CLB backlash, and I thought he’d come through with a bunch of “Churchill Downs” type verses. In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear a summer album in June (especially now that the world is fully open again) but a 14-song album full of Drake singing over dance music was not on my Bingo card.

Jordan: I, like almost everybody else, was not expecting Drake to drop a dance album. What’s even more surprising to me, though, is that he called Honestly, Nevermind an “album” in the first place. Drake has historically been very reserved about the projects he calls “albums” (he doesn’t give Dark Lane Demo Tapes, More Life, or even If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late that label), but to shock drop this project that sounds so different from his previous work and call it an album is a very surprising choice to make.

Jessica: After Certified Lover Boy, and even more reflective bars like his verse on Jack Harlow’s “Churchill Downs,” I thought that Drake would be coming with heavy lyrical rap. I was surprised to hear that this album is mostly singing, with a dance sound.

Eric: I have no idea when or how Drake got into house music, but a stylistic shake-up like this is what he needed after the disappointing CLB. Drake’s chameleonic style has always been one of his biggest strengths, and he’s shown he can make any kind of music (drill, dancehall, Memphis rap, etc.) in small doses. We’ve just never seen him focus on one sound for a whole project quite like he does here. I think he finally realized he doesn’t need to make bloated something-for-everyone albums like CLB and Scorpion anymore, and he’ll be better off if he keeps each project focused on a specific sound. He just announced that a Scary Hours project will be coming very soon, which will presumably satisfy the rap fans that he let down on this album. I hope this kicks off a new strategy where Drake frequently drops concise albums that focus on singular sounds, instead of trying to squeeze all of his styles into each project.

As for the album itself, I think Drake pulled off the house music sound really well. On songs like “Massive,” he gets more experimental than we’ve heard him in years, while still putting his own mainstream take on it. I imagine some of these songs will go crazy at festivals. This is a summer dance album that’ll do exactly what it’s supposed to do: rack up billions of streams (I have a feeling this will do really well in international markets) and soundtrack every 2 a.m. dance party for the foreseeable future.

Jordan: I was never the biggest fan of More Life, and I enjoy Drake’s music the most when he’s rapping like he has a point to prove, showing off his lyricism and wordplay. That being said, I’m not mad about Honestly, Nevermind. It sounds like an evolved version of More Life that’s more concise and sticks to the same sonic theme. I think there comes a point in every artist’s career where they should try to “go left” and make something that sounds different from their previous work, and this is that moment for Drake. To shock drop Honestly, Nevermind and call it an album (something he rarely does) was a bold choice, but he did it unflinchingly. There are going to be a lot of people who feel disappointed by this album because it diverges so much from what we’ve heard from Drake before, but I think that’s the whole point. It’s labeled as a dance album on streaming platforms and Drake was clearly inspired by various forms of house and club music like Chicago house, Jersey club, and Detroit club. This album represents a major moment for those scenes, bringing them even more visibility, and it gives people the chance to listen to something completely different from what they’re used to. It’s important to be open to new things, and even though Drake only raps on two songs here, I wouldn’t have been as quick to listen to an album like Honestly, Nevermind if his name weren’t attached to it, and I enjoyed hearing something different.

Jessica: I’m really digging this album. It’s one of Drake’s most cohesive albums in years, not only because of the shorter tracklist, but because of the fluid sound. I thought we were getting a rap album to compete with some of the best rap albums of the year, but we got an album made for the summer and going outside. Honestly, Nevermind is fun and shows a side of Drake that has been missing for a while. He finally let go of his paranoia and stopped talking about his opps and he was able to create more light-hearted music. I think this is Drake’s first W in a while.

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