Album: Honestly, Nevermind
On June 16th, Beyoncé announced that she would be releasing an album for the first time since her 2016 album, ‘Lemonade.’ The album is set to release at the end of July. Additionally, she revealed to British Vogue that the album will focus on dance tracks. Only hours after Beyoncé’s album announcement, Drake revealed that he too would be releasing a dance-oriented album that would be released later that night.
The Canadian rapper hasn’t been shy about releasing music recently, whether it’s features on tracks with other artists or even an entire album that he released only nine months ago. To me, announcing his house album immediately after Beyoncé announced hers initially felt like a bad idea. Drake is an artist who releases music very frequently so the timing of his releases can make or break its success. I felt that much of the potential commotion for his announcement was lost in the excitement for Beyoncé’s announcement, since she hasn’t released an album in six years. Posts about his album drowned in the massive amount of social media traction that Beyoncé received. There was very little time for him to promote the album before its release. That night, my social media feeds shifted between posts about Beyoncé and people asking, “wait… did Drake release an album?”
While I initially thought that the promotional efforts for the album felt rushed, I realized that this may have been intentional after my first listen through. It is clear that this album was not made for Drake’s typical fan base. In ‘Honestly, Nevermind,’ he experiments with other genres that are unlike what he is usually known for which is why I felt that he wanted to keep the album slightly under the radar. If there had been any more promotion, it may have attracted the wrong audience.
The rap industry is ever-changing. Today, it is dominated by artists in their 20s who experiment with new sounds and styles. Artists such as Playboi Carti and Yeat are famed for expanding beyond the “comfortable” rap sound that was used by artists such as Drake years before. On social media, Drake is a punching bag for jokes made by fans of the newer rap sound. Since Drake has been in the rap scene for over ten years, many people on social media are quick to poke fun at his attempts to stay relevant in the industry that has evolved so much since he first began. By keeping his new album relatively low-profile, Drake not only targeted a specific audience but also proved that he doesn’t need major promotional efforts to release a successful album. Although many don’t want to admit it, he still knows how to navigate the ever-changing industry.
During my first listen, the thing that stood out to me most was how consistent each track was. Like Drake had said, the album is very danceable. However, each song maintains this quality without being too upbeat and fast. This style, which is especially evident in ‘Flight’s Booked’ and ‘A Keeper,’ is comparable to Drake’s older projects. Because of the similar beats in each track, the songs flow very well into each other. However, the last song, ‘Jimmy Cooks (feat. 21 Savage)’ is more aggressive and modern, and is also the only song with a feature on the entire album. Initially, I felt that this song felt very out of place in comparison to the other tracks, especially since it was the last song on the album. However, I feel that he may have done this as a way of showing his versatility. In the earlier tracks, he reminisced on his old sound but ‘Jimmy Cooks’ proved that he can pull off a more current rap sound as well.
The 8th track on the album, ‘Massive,’ has potential to be my favorite song of the summer. It is no surprise to me that this instantly became the most well-received track on the album. The song escalates the dance vibe that is present in the rest of the album, making it sound like more of a club song. It also has a catchy, repeated chorus that makes the song easy to sing along to. There is a unique keyboard melody in the background that perfectly encapsulates a summer vibe and reminds me of Calvin Harris’ style in the 2017 project, ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1.’ The song is super approachable and fun and is perfect for summer beach days.
As someone who has been a fan of his for a while, I immediately fell in love with the album. I am still surprised by the public’s negative response. For the past few years, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about Drake’s new style accompanied by claims like, “I prefer his old music.” Even the album’s merch teases this idea.
Photo from @HipHopDX on Twitter
After being in the industry for so long, I feel that Drake is held to a high standard. He gave the public exactly what they had been asking for and it was still not well-received. The lack of promotional efforts showed that he is aware of and unbothered by these standards. Drake is in the spotlight a lot because of how frequently he releases music so I found it really interesting that he released this album so spontaneously. He not only proved that he can maintain his old style but also proved he is capable of more unique sounds. Additionally, he established his dominance in the industry yet again, proving that he can succeed with or without promotional efforts.
Jimmy Cooks (feat. 21 Savage)