The Zodiac Rapper: Why Drake’s Views is a Failure

Drew Millard tells you why Drake's Views is a failure before attending to his ferocious pack of wild dogs.
By    May 22, 2016

drake

Drew Millard is the tenth member of the Baha Men.

At this point, I think we can all agree Drake is a big fat fucking failure. Not in a “Views underperformed” sense—the album, his fourth, sold over a million copies in its first week out. Nor is Drake a failure in a “he’s poor” sense—Drake is probably so rich he could wipe his butt with $100 bills for the rest of his life and it wouldn’t be that big of a financial hit. Instead, in the past few weeks Drake has shitted a bunch of his public goodwill down the toilet, and Drake can never get it back, even if he wiped his butt with gold doubloons.

Speaking of poop, I don’t have a lot of time to get into this because I’m worried that Chiquita, my un-potty-trained foster dog, is going to take a shit on the floor, but here’s what’s up. Throughout the past few years, Drake has released singles, albums, and mixtapes, taken part in goofy publicity stunts, Saturday Night Live skits, and memes. This has all helped him position himself as one of the smartest and self-aware stars in all of pop music. The operative term here is, of course, pop. By shooting to become a part of culture at large—sanding off his rough edges and attempting to appeal to as many people as possible—Drake has shifted the popular perception of himself from “rapper” to “pop star who raps.” Think of his biggest hits in the past few years: “Marvin’s Room,” “Take Care,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” “Hotline Bling,” and “One Dance.” None of these songs are rap songs.

“Back to Back,” Drake’s sole recent rap hit, only further underscores this transition. In case you were continually jacking off for the past year, it’s the song in which Drake perhaps irrevocably reduced his then-rival Meek Mill into a human Pepe meme. You remember back in the day when 50 Cent permanently derailed Ja Rule’s entire existence on the basis of Ja not being street enough? Well, Drake somehow successfully accomplished the inverse of that. He pulled some Ted Cruz-ass shit, reframing Meek’s original beef (that Drake didn’t write his own lyrics) as Meek being mad that Drake was more famous and successful than he was.

Essentially, though Meek Mill was (is) a better rapper on both a technical and bar-for-bar level, he was an inferior pop star to Drake. In the rap game, you have to write your own shit. Once you hit the proverbial pop style, all bets are off. The only rule of pop stardom is that you damn well better be the most famous, have the most money, and make the most impact as humanly fucking possible.

When you judge it by this metric, Drake’s newest record Views sucks a bunch of goat dicks, then pooped out weird, goat-jizzy crap, then ate its own self-shit. High-profile album releases are meant to be consumed in real-time—they’re like the Grammys, or a presidential debate, or an episode of Game of Thrones—so-called “watercooler events” for the social media era. What Drake needed to satisfy the self-imposed conditions of his pop stardom was his own personal Thriller, an album that slapped you across the face with a dead fish from the outset and never let up. And he certainly could have done this—he very easily could have knocked out twelve songs like “Hotline Bling”/“One Dance”/“Controlla” in his sleep, and the world would be extremely excited about Drake right now.

Instead, he made a grievous miscalculation, and decided it was time to release some damn Art. With its lush, often orchestral arrangements, relationship-y subject matter, and leisurely pacing, Views’ most obvious antecedent is Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear.

But two things separate these records. One, Here, My Dear is an album about how sad Gaye is that he’s getting divorced from his wife, while Views mainly just consists of Drake being mad that girls are mad that he won’t date them. Divorcing your wife is tragic, bitching that girls are mad that you’re being a dick to them just makes you a double-dick. Two, Here, My Dear was released in 1978, back when people were willing to give a record a few months to take. Drake doesn’t have that luxury. What he gave people to consume in real time was, frankly, underwhelming.

The jury’s still out on whether or not Views is actually any good. I sort of admire the fact that Drake probably knew that the record was going to be a hard pill to swallow, and I don’t doubt that I’ll probably end up liking, or at least respecting, this thing in a year. But when the public expected Drake to deliver a bunch of pop bangers, he instead gave them a record full of maudlin crap most immediately memorable for his use of bad Jamaican and British patois. People will be less likely to follow him wherever his pear-shaped Canadian heart goes next time, more apt to make him work for their faith in his music rather than giving it to him freely. Drake done goofed, and now he’s got to deal with the consequences.