Drake has never handled relationships or rap beefs with the utmost grace and understanding before, but as far as anyone else was concerned, it was Drake vs. Drake’s emotions, and that was about it. More recently however, Drake’s words and actions have begun to affect others, whether it be through Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Kanye West, Pusha T, or even his own child, and his ability to respond to these situations has not improved.
Drake takes everything too far. Every new album is extremely long, and his latest totals at 25 tracks (1 hour and 19 minutes). He found a sound that worked for him on Take Care, and he’s dragged it on unwaveringly his entire career (save for some dancehall pop hits). He had a rap feud with Meek Mill from 2015, and he’s still talking about it. His romantic relationships never work out, and he still doesn’t think it’s his fault. He heard the tiniest mention of his name on Pusha T’s album, and he started a rap beef that ended in a photo of himself in blackface and rumors of him harboring a secret son.
Love him or hate him, Drake is a really talented artist. As described in Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Drake So Different, So Appealing?, he really helped shape popular Rap/R&B following Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Lil Wayne, but it was his egocentrism and exhaustive catalog that has been his major downfall critically as of the past 3-4 years.
Kanye West’s recent stream of albums only 7-tracks long (usually around 22 to 27 minutes) showed that 18+ track records didn’t need to exist in the age of streaming. Artists had been making albums over an hour long to dominate the entire time you were listening to music on streaming services, but Kanye’s 7-track albums felt refreshing.
Following these highly digestible records that made their playback value almost comically easy, Drake’s double-disc, 25 track effort here on Scorpion is too much to handle. Like his unwavering sound, Scorpion is an exhaustive task more than it is background music. It’s full of complete throwaway tracks like “Can’t Take a Joke” and “In My Feelings,” and features the Drakiest lines from “Bills so big I call ’em Williams,” to “The new me is really still the real me.”
Trying to breakdown Scorpion into a 7-track album actually improved the record. There’s a whole lot of nothing said on this record, so it wasn’t hard to trim the fat, but I found when listening to the revised 7-track that I had created for Scorpion, that Drake doesn’t come off as such a self-centered or exhaustive figure. Personally, I listen to “Emotionless” first, then pretty much in order of “Elevate,” “God’s Plan,” “Mob Ties,” “That’s How You Feel,” “Don’t Matter to Me (feat. Michael Jackson),” “March 14,” and then maybe “Nice for What” as a bonus track that should have stayed a single.
While this 7-track representation of Scorpion, to me, is a way better record in terms of being able to digesting the themes present, the sound, and the “big moment” topics Drake covers, it sadly doesn’t exonerate him from how he chooses to handle each of them. His son finally gives him something else to talk about, and yet he treats him like he does everything else in his life—by whining and trying to make people feel bad for him.
A child isn’t a failed relationship or rap beef however, and a line like “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world/I was hidin’ the world from my kid,” is a pretty horrible excuse for what was definitely shame that he got an ex-adult-film star pregnant and now has a son that he kept from the public. Was it right for Pusha T to out that to the public during their rap beef? No, but nothing’s ever “right” when it comes to the pettiness of a rap beef.
As much as Drake tries to turn around the rhetoric of him owning up to having a son to be about how he will always take care of him despite never being there for him, Drake can’t help but show his real feelings on a record that’s 17 tracks too long. “They always ask, ‘Why let the story run if it’s false?’,” he raps on “Emotionless,” forgetting that the next line, “You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all,” is probably the most bullsh*t sentence to ever come out of Drake’s mouth.
If anyone says way too much about themselves, it’s Drake, and the same record that has him saying “Just tryin’ to make sure that I see him sometimes/It’s breakin’ my spirit” about his son on “March 14,” also has him saying, “Can’t go fifty-fifty with no ho every month/I’m supposed to pay her bills and get her what she want/I still got like seven years of doin’ what I want,” on “I’m Upset.”
Maybe if Drake turned out to be the greatest dad in the world, it would have made Pusha T’s big reveal moot point (who cares that Drake didn’t tell the public about his son because he’s a great dad that doesn’t want his son in the spotlight), but instead it seems from the lyrics that he’s only ever seen the kid once since he was born in October, and doesn’t want to really be a part of raising him at all.
He not only makes me cringe at describing himself as a “single father” or a “co-parent,” but goes on to detail that even though he grew up with just his mom to raise him because his dad left when he was young, it pains him to do the same thing to his son. “I got an empty crib in my empty crib,” he somehow gets out of his mouth, before describing that the baby clothes he got for him don’t even fit because he’s grown already. Drake, having missed all of this child’s early development, remarks, “But man, you know/I still had to get it for my boy though, you know.”
And the critique isn’t that Drake should be in his son’s life, obviously he has every right to take part in as much or as little of this child’s life as he wants, but it’s wrong for him to think that we should, in any way, take pity on him for this. Drake now has a third component to what he believes are tragedies set upon his talented life, and tries his very best to prove that he’s not the one to drag on rap beefs, fail in romantic relationships, or have a child despite not intending to, but with every release it makes Drake look worse and worse.
When Drake was being Drake, it was fine because it only affected Drake. Now, he’s Drake and he’s an absent father. He’s a very talented artist with the most insane pop-sensibility around, but we don’t even need the ego or the media to spin this tale. He isn’t painting the greatest portrait of himself.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.