Certified Lover Boy: Hit or Miss?

September 9, 2021

Hit:

Drake. Travis Scott. Jay-Z. Lil Baby. 21 Savage. Kid Cudi. Lil Wayne.

This is every rap fan’s dream.

  Certified Lover Boy is a track filled with certified classics already. So let’s get into it.

Let’s start With “Champagne Poetry”. This song has the best beat that I’ve heard since the lemon pepper freestyle. With the love-themed background of the music combined with Drake’s classic freestyle voice, this song really just slams it out of the park.

It’s simple, it’s fresh, and it’s classic drake.

Moving on to “Papi’s Home”, this song has the best intro that I’ve heard in a long time. The voice that calls us to question Drake’s relationships and familial ties is so persuading. It’s a breath of fresh air for the rapper who seems to build up his entire career on flexing (Although he still flexes quite a bit). By being vulnerable, Drake exposes something new to the viewer that hasn’t really been shown before.

In “Girls Want Girls” and “In The Bible”, the features, admittedly, carry the songs. Lil Baby has been known to outshine Drake in songs like “Wants and Needs”, and he does so again. But these are still parts of the album and just contribute to that growth.

We then transition into one of the best songs in the album– “Love All”. Jay-Z comes and gives us the best feature we’ve heard in… well.. All of Jay-Z’s career.

“Fair trade” gives us the classic Travis Scott hype song. With the calmness of Drake synthesized to the speed of Travis, this song rivals 90210’s intensity. 

That takes us to “Way 2 Sexy”. This song is very controversial, but I for one love it. I think that it includes all of what Future advertises to be as a rapper, and that’s all we can really ask for. It’s quirky, it’s weird, and it’s spawned some hilarious dances on TikTok.

“Knife Talk” is my favorite song of the entire album. It combines 21 savage clean flow with an amazing intro, and it really knocks the listener off their feet.

Overall, CLB is an album that has been taking mixed reviews in the media. Generally, CLB is what it is advertised to be- it’s not Donda, it’s not a deep or influential track, and it’s not pushing social change. 

If you can take Drake for Drake, not try to make him anything more than an incredible entertainer, then you can enjoy CLB.

Miss:

Casamigos and 1942 are referenced quite a lot on Drake’s new album Certified Lover Boy. After listening to “Champagne Poetry,” “Girls Want Girls,” and “In The Bible,” I’m not entirely certain Drake didn’t drink a few bottles of them before heading into the studio.

Drake has always put out good music. That has never been the issue. But when I say I could confuse this album with a Drake’s greatest hits compilation, it’s not a compliment. I could not tell a difference between his songs from the last ten years and half the songs off of CLB.             

The melodic voice with a slowish R&B beat doesn’t hit anymore. I understand this is how Drake makes hits, this is how Drake’s flow goes. But an entire half of an album consisting of CTRL+C and CTRL+V is like the post office on Sundays. It just doesn’t deliver. 

“George, you’re just a Ye fan bashing Drake!” Don’t get me wrong, I do like Kanye. But I’m a Drake fan too. I genuinely thought CLB would be a lot better than Donda. I thought this latest project would deserve all the hype it was getting on Twitter and billboards all over America. It didn’t come close.

Now, if G Herbo or Gunna released an album of this quality, I would be praising it as their best work. This isn’t a bad album. “You Only Live Twice,” “Fair Trade,” “7am On Bridle Path,” and “No Friends In The Industry” are absolutely amazing. It’s Drake at his best, and songs I’d listen to on loop for hours. His ghostwriter’s wordplay on “No Friends In The Industry” is top-notch: “Ain’t got the type of time to be playin’ with you folk, I had a Richard prior to these ****** that’s the joke.” Richard referring to a Richard Mille timepiece, claiming even without his beefs with other artists he still was at the top of his game, while also referencing comedian Richard Pryor. 

“Fair Trade,” featuring Travis Scott, is reminiscent of the quality of “Sicko Mode,” the certified diamond single from their 2018 collaboration. It’s not quite as good as Sicko Mode but it is still of very good quality., and the two both give quite a performance. The beat perfectly fits the flows of the two and creates a top four track on the album. A sample from Charlotte Day Wilson complements the two. 

“You Only Live Twice,” reminiscent of “The Motto” off of Drake’s classic album Take Care, is definitely a bright spot on the project. Rick Ross starts off the upbeat track with a verse better than any Rick Ross verse I’ve heard before, dropping wordplay referencing ObamaCare and Patti LaBelle. Drake jumps on the beat next and delivers a classic Drake verse, containing much more energy than other tracks on the album, even dropping a diss at Swizz Beats. However, Swizz’s longtime collaborator Lil Wayne is next on the track and does not disappoint. The beat goes absolutely perfect with Wayne’s delivery, and I could play this track three times over.

Drake’s beef with Kanye heats up after a masterful four minutes of rap. “7am on Bridle Path” is Drake at his absolute best. Sounding fresh, (for once) the beat is good, the lyrics are his best on the album, with “No Friends In The Industry” the only track coming close to it in terms of lyricism. This is Drake at his best, and this is what every track on the album should sound like. I’d be much more inclined to give this a positive review if Drake gave this much effort on every track. 

But with the almost handful of highlights also comes a baker’s dozen of misses, with more skips than a competitive game of hopscotch. “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, is miles ahead of the competition for the worst song of the year. The intro, sampling “I’m Too Sexy” by 1990s band Right Said Fred, is questionable. However, it is unironically the best verse on the track. Next up is Future’s chorus, and I wanted to throw my phone out of my window but I was too busy laughing. I could have put my five year old nephew in the studio and he could’ve dropped a better chorus. Hell, I could say the same thing about my great-grandfather, and he’s been dead for four years. Drake’s and Young Thug’s verses also disappoint, creating an aura of failure for just over 4 minutes. 

On the bright side, it could only go up from there, solely because of how low Drake has fallen by the seventh track on the project. “Fountains,” one of the later tracks, is a Walmart version of Drake’s 2016 hit “One Dance.” With no Kyla Reid sample and Wizkid being replaced by…Tems, the song is one of the lowlights of the album. Both verses fall short of the expectations I had at the beginning of the album, and even fell short of the expectations I had after listening to the first fifteen songs on the album. 

Besides two not bad tracks on the back half of the album, “You Only Live Twice” and “IMY2”, Drake finishes with two forgettable tracks, “F***ing Fans,” and “The Remorse.” Thankfully, those tracks finished up an underwhelming project came to an end and I was able to give my ears a rest. 

Drake hasn’t been the same ever since he got curved by Rihanna at the 2016 VMAs. It’s embarrassing as a fan of Drake to be forced to listen to this album. I miss the old Drake. I can only hear so much about the haters, the tequila, how much money Drake has, how much watches Drake has, the almost desperate self-assurances that he’s at the top of his game. In the meantime, I’ll be content listening to Views and Take Care on full volume to drown out any memories I have of Certified Lover Boy.

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