After a nine month delay, Labor Day weekend saw the debut of the much anticipated new Drake album, Certified Lover Boy. Because it is a Drake release, it set the internet ablaze in a way few artists do these days. It’s 2021, everyone has an opinion.
As a well known Drake appreciator, it is easy to know where my opinion would be headed upon the release of CLB. But, after a weekend of listening through the album on multiple occasions, it put me in the headspace to truly grade Drake’s recent projects and where Drake stands in terms of his prime era.
Here are some thoughts I mentally logged as I spent the long weekend listening through the 21 song project. If you want to know my feelings on the album as a whole, where Drake stands in the pantheon of rap, and of course how it compared to Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ project, feel free to skip to the bottom.
The album begins with Champagne Poetry and quickly lays the ground work for a true Drake project and why he typically shines above our peers. The song, much like Tuscan Leather on NWTS, is five clear, concise minutes of Drake setting the tune for the entire project. We have reached an era where songs are barely crossing the two minute mark. It’s not necessarily a complaint, it’s merely the times we live in. As we are allowed quicker access to information and entertainment, our attention spans have begun to fade. In music, that has created an era of shorter songs but longer albums. It is quick to rifle through each song like the posters in the back of Hot Topic and pick out the handful you like. There is nothing wrong with that. Artists like Iann Dior and Trippie Redd are apart of that new age and they make good music. But if you are going to be labeled the greatest of a generation or even simply a decade, songs like Champagne Poetry and of course, The Remorse need to be in your repotiore. They are the rap version of the State of the Union.
Papi Home’s home is fine. It just lacks the certain luster most second tracks on a Drake album offer. Furthest Thing was perfect. Shot For Me is one of the all-time deep cuts. Non-Stop will forever be one of the go to concert songs. Papi’s Home is none of that.
Girls Want Girls is one of the best songs on the album. Yes, “you say you are a lesbian, girl me too” is a line that’s hard not to snicker at every time. But this song is the classic Drake flow with simple, Instagrammable lyrics that get stuck in your head in a pleasant way. Drizzy and Lil Baby, it is hard to find a hotter duo in rap right now.
Here’s what I like about In the Bible featuring Lil Durk. It’s the first sign that this wasn’t a half-assed album. Back in the summer of 2019, Drake dropped Laugh Now, Cry Later’ featuring Durk. he debuted it as the first single off of Certified Lover Boy, debuting in January. Obviously that never happened so it’s nice to see he didn’t stick with that song. It has come and went. The GOAT’s don’t half ass it. Tom Brady isn’t content with a ring he won last year. That’s why he has seven (we are a sports blog after all). Drake and Durk didn’t settle, it’s not a radio hit like last year’s but it’s a solid song.
Fair Trade, Way 2 Sexy, and TSU are an all time run an album. TSU is probably my favorite song on the album, the chopped n screwed intro build up has grown on me. Fair Trade is an excellent collab showcasing Drake and Travis Scott’s best skills. Way 2 Sexy will be played at every club this fall.
I am very confused why some social justice warrior was able to go viral stating there weren’t any woman features on Certified Lover Boy. Did they not hear Yebba’s incredible voice showcased on Yebba’s Heartbrack like Sampha was on Sampha’s Interlude from More Life? Did they not enjoy the end of summer vibe Tems gave us on Fountains? Underappreciated tracks.
7AM On Bridle Path. There is a time stamp. We have been around long enough to know what that means.
The head-scratching knock on Drake is that his style doesn’t change. Really? Because what other album is able to go to Race My Mind, from 7AM On Bridle Path a few songs after Pipe Down?
IMY2 with Kid Cudi is amazing. Cudi’s recognizable flow is there and Drake blends in with it like a chameleon. What an amazing collab, maybe the best the project has to offer.
If you take off a song from the album maybe it’s F*****g Fans? But it does serve to wind the album down as Drake gives his final remarks in the state of the OVO Union, on The Remorse. Once the piano hit, you know it was going to be a ride. It was very reminiscent of Do Not Disturb, The Calm, and 30 for 30. The perfect ending.
This is Drake’s most complete project in years. He introduced More Life as a playlist, and that it was. Similar in length to CLB, it felt mostly like the songs he recorded while traveling Europe on tour. Dark Lane Demo Tapes was a loose project and it’s totally fine. But this album puts into perspective how bad of a project Scorpion was. It is an easily skippable album compared to CLB. The concept of an A Side/ B Side with Rap vs R&B is solid, but the content didn’t hold up. CLB is not Take Care nor Nothing Was The Same. But nothing ever will be. That was a time in our lives that has faded leaving us with memories of the era that was. With time, the songs continue to hold value, and that’s what makes them so special. But Certified Lover Boy gets back to the basics for Drake. The album doesn’t feature commercial hits like One Dance or In My Feelings, instead it is just flat out good, solid music. It’s his best work since VIEWS which has gotten the Great Year of 2016 bump. In five years, we may look back at CLB with similar favor.
At first, I hated the album cover. It seemed lazy and strayed from the typical Drake album cover headshot. But after seeing the internet reaction to it, I understand. Keep your branding simple and relatable. Make companies promote your album for you for free.
— Unsah (@unsahmalik) September 3, 2021
And lastly, because this seems like a mandatory take we must put forth one way or the other, CLB is better than Donda. Coley said it best on Barstool’s new podcast Macrodosing: the production of Donda is great as is tradition with Kanye projects. But, most of the more memorable lyrics are from features, not from Kanye. It’s 27 songs of mostly filler. Certified Lover Boy is simply the more complete project. Drake goes back to his strengths: mixing the variety of his flows, meshing with other artists well, and balancing rap lyrics with the deep cuts. He no longer sounds like an angsty rapper looking over his shoulder, he sounds content with his life and his place in rap.
Drake fans were worried about the potential of an underwhelming project after the delay. Much like the aforementioned Tom Brady, you never doubt the greats.