REVIEW: Drake – Certified Lover Boy
With a full week in the books, it’s time to take a deep dive into the artistry of Aubrey “Drake” Graham as it relates to his 6th studio album, Certified Lover Boy. The instant feedback on social sites has gauged my interest. On one hand, there are many suggesting this is one of his best works in recent memory and then there are those stating the opposite. The near 50/50 split in response is cause for vibrant conversations. If you can recall, Views was heavily judged in its first few months but the narrative surrounding the album overall would change after some time. CLB seems to be following suit.
Drake is one of few artists who are critiqued on a scale vastly different than his peers by the general public due to his long-running success as one of hip-hop’s best. It’s put unrealistic expectations on anything he releases because he’s provided the masses for many years with a broad variety of sounds ranging from rap, r&b, afro beats, dancehall & UK drill amongst an abundance of other styles; He’s been experimenting as an artist for 13+ years. The Boy’s projects have also been consistent with showcasing new artists. The brilliance surrounding Certified Lover Boy however, comes in the form of Drake’s candid ability to follow a routine formula while displaying all those successful years of music into a fun, concise album.
The formula I speak of is simple. A mixture of rap and r&b while giving us an undeniable radio hit we end up hearing endlessly. Why divert from what’s been working? The “Caption King” has a tendency to give his fans the best of both worlds on his projects while providing us with timeless quotes to live by. His duality is what separates him from most.
Even with a run time of one hour & thirty minutes, the album doesn’t feel like a drag to listen to. Drake kept fans on their feet with a combination of transitions, exceptional production, samples, song flips & features like no other that made Certified Lover Boy worth every listen. CLB leans more into his bars which we haven’t seen from his projects for some time now. Records like ‘Champagne Poetry’, ‘7AM on Bridle Path’, ‘You Only Live Twice’, & ‘The Remorse’ are an elite level of wordplay that lets listeners know The Boy is still at the top of his game.
R&B Aubrey doesn’t carry the project as much but he still leaves memorable moments with ‘In the Bible’, ‘F**king Fans’ & an exceptionally produced song in the form of ‘Get Along Better‘ by longtime OVO affiliate & 1/2 of dvsn, Nineteen85. When he drops new “toxic” songs that some of us can relate to, they tend to be similar in the message but differ in lyrical content that makes each record better than the next.
The Houston ties which have been prevalent in Drake’s career, especially in his early days of So Far Gone & Thank Me Later made a comeback appearance with the incomparable songs ‘N 2 Deep’ which samples Bun B’s classic ‘Get Throwed’ & ‘TSU’ which starts off with OG Ron C speaking about Houston in that legendary chopped & screwed style.
‘Way 2 Sexy’ is the obvious radio smash I spoke of earlier. A spinoff of Right Said Fred’s Pop hit ‘I’m Too Sexy’ which went #1 on Billboard in 1992. Produced by TM88 & Too Dope!, the synths & 808’s mixed with Future Hendrxx on the opening chorus are the first things to catch your attention on this walking hit record. I instantly could hear this song being played in the club and since its release, there have been videos of exactly that. Filled with nothing but quotables, Twitter has been having a field day with users tweeting what they are “too sexy” for. The song also features an outrageous video of the 3-headed snake in rare form. Seemingly so, this record just earned a #1 entry on Billboard which adds to the list of chart-topping hits for Drake.
Another major highlight of CLB is the production. Sonically, this may be one of Drake’s best produced albums. There are many familiar names who formulated the best sounds of this art but the name that is not so familiar with fans and stuck out was Leon Thomas who produced ‘In the Bible’, ‘Love All’ & arguably the best song on CLB in ‘Pipe Down.’ Thomas is most know for playing Andre on Nickelodeon’s Victorious but as you have seen and can hear, his musical skills are world class.
Overall, Certified Lover Boy is an appreciable project. A love letter to his day one fans, Drake put together an album that takes you through his different eras while also emphasizing the importance of the state of music today. This is the kind of music that has had an immerse effect after only a week but the songs will continue to age gracefully. When the discussion happens 1 year from now about CLB and its placement amongst The Boy’s discography, this will be ranked as one of his top projects.