What a Drake SZN it has been! He’d been gone since late July, yet many were acting like he died — never mind that More Life was one of the biggest
albums mixtapes playlists(?) of 2017. Some of us wrote him off due to, among other factors, the rise of SoundCloud rap rapidly changing face of hip-hop. We should have known better.
Drake is the biggest rap star of his generation partially because he is also his generation’s finest wave-rider. If you’ll recall, he was already allegedly ripping off XXXTentacion’s flow on More Life. He’s adapted to several sea changes in rap besides the one he himself set off nearly a decade ago. He doesn’t just survive, he dominates. In 2018, he’s found new ways to do so.
“God’s Plan,” which emerged as part of a two-song EP back in February, at first seemed conspicuously basic — a Drake-by-numbers single if there ever was one. Maybe that was the key to the song’s success because it became the first Drake song to debut at #1. Buoyed by a benevolent and/or manipulative music video, it stayed there for 11 weeks and was only bumped out of the top spot when the next Drake single came along.
“Nice For What” started at the top as well, partially thanks to boisterous production inspired by New Orleans bounce, built from samples of Lauryn Hill and Ms. Freedia, plus a video starring dozens of famous, beautiful women. That one ended up spending seven weeks at #1 all told, climbing back to the summit twice after being dethroned first by Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” and then by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Psycho.” We are 26 weeks into 2018, and Drake has had the #1 single in America for 18 of them — a run so successful that his obscenely sprawling new double album Scorpion is eligible for platinum certification upon release. Plus, thanks to hit collaborations with BlocBoy JB, Migos, and Lil Baby, he regularly had two or three singles in the top 10 simultaneously this past spring. Somehow, he’s been more ubiquitous than ever in 2018.
Thus, Scorpion, streaming below in all its double-disc opulence, is the grand finale of a triumphant rollout. Or at least it would be that if Pusha-T hadn’t come along and hijacked the narrative, making a fool of Drake with the most vicious diss track in recent memory. After Drake responded to a stray insult on Pusha’s “Infrared” with the serviceable clapback “Duppy Freestyle,” Pusha unleashed hell on him with “The Story Of Adidon,” revealing an alleged secret child and an old photo shoot for which Drake wore blackface. It was a knockout blow in their rekindled feud — the one major L Drake has taken in a year full of Ws.
On the advice of mentor figure J. Prince, Drake opted not to respond to Pusha. Instead he served up another attempt at virality, this time reuniting his old Degrassi castmates in the video for his tepid “I’m Upset.”
Now, at long last, Scorpion is here: all 25 songs and 89 minutes of it, including features from Jay-Z, Ty Dolla $ign, Static Major, and Michael Jackson; samples from Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj; and an uncredited Future cameo. On Apple Music, it also includes these Editor’s Notes from Drake:
I HATE WHEN DRAKE RAPS
DRAKE SINGS TOO MUCH
DRAKE IS A POP ARTIST
DRAKE DOESN’T EVEN WRITE HIS OWN SONGS
DRAKE TOOK AN L
DRAKE DIDN’T START FROM THE BOTTOM
DRAKE IS FINISHED
I LIKE DRAKE’S OLDER STUFF
DRAKE MAKES MUSIC FOR GIRLS
DRAKE THINKS HE’S JAMAICAN
DRAKE IS AN ACTOR
ANYBODY ELSE > DRAKE …
YEAH YEAH WE KNOW
And yes, on Scorpion Drake acknowledges the son revealed by Pusha in “The Story Of Adidon.” On “Emotionless” for example, he raps “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid.” And “8 Out Of 10″ includes the lyric “Kiss my son on the forehead and kiss ya ass goodbye.” On the final track, “March 14,” Drake goes into more detail:
She not my lover like Billie Jean but the kid is mine
Sandy used to tell me all it takes is one time, and all it took was one time
Shit, we only met two times, two times
And both times were nothing like the new times
Now it’s rough times
I’m out here on front lines just tryna make sure I see him sometimes
It’s breaking my spirit
Single father, I hate when I hear it
I used to challenge my parents on every album
Now I’m embarrassed to tell them I ended up as a co-parent
Always promised the family unit
I wanted it to be different because I’ve been through it
But this is the harsh truth now
But hey, this just the intro, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hear Scorpion below.
Scorpion is out now on Republic/Cash Money.