The Long Boring Life of an Insecure Scorpio
Drake is a cultural phenomena. To call him a pop sensation would not be an exaggeration. The Toronto native has been a staple of the country’s media landscape since his days on Degrassi. Which is ironic, as Drake’s music throughout his ostentatious career, a career which is a streaming magnet, that his music itself, has been like Degrassi. Some fantastic episodes, but did it really need to go on that long? And did it really need to have this kind of content, every season? And, most importantly, was it actually ever that good?
If you are offended by my Degrassi slander, I apologize. But much like re-discovering old ‘90s and ‘00s shows, this album makes me question not only my old taste, but my old morals. Was Drake ever good? Yes, but did he deserved the elite status the world gave him? Probably not. In my opinion, Drake has 3 solid albums, albums that actually have full-play/re-play value; Take Care, Nothing was the Same, and If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late mixtape, a personal favorite. His last 2 projects, the horrendously long and motion-sickness inducing Views, the faux B-side record More Life, a playlist in celebration of cultural appropriation and stellar marketing. This era of Drake is when he fell from my rotation. I actually found More Life to be tolerable; it was the last time Drake’s trendy sounds seemed to fit the man. These projects solidified my opinions that Drake is too big for his own good. Drake’s unending relevance is what produced Scorpion. Specifically, the fear of it ending. In 2018, that fear was higher than ever. I am not going into the Pusha-T vs Drake drama, I could do a different piece on that. But, to keep it simple, I do believe Drake’s insecurities were exposed, and it was going to affect his work. And on this album, it shows.
This is what is good. I am starting with the highlights because if the stans want to remain in the dark, they can do it without having to read the other half. I feel that Drake can produce some amazing hits. His albums aren’t conceptually, they tend to follow the same formula. In fact, the majority of this album, the biggest downsides are the formulaic aspects of the songs: great production, simple easy-to-understand flow, and a confused blend of tough and soft. Recently, he has added “let’s make this long af to get our streams up” into the equation. I believe this double-disc format is cheap justification for 90 minutes of fluff. I don’t think length is inherently bad. My favorite rap album of 2017, 4eva is a Mighty Long Time was a double disc. However, each disc had a different sound, a different theme, a different concept, a different something. Scorpion side A is the alleged rap disc, and side B the alleged R&B disc. I say alleged because there is so much sonic overlap between the discs, like Drake’s music in general. The formula does occasionally produce a fucking jam. “Nice For What”, a 2018 radio addiction, has amazing sampled vocals, energetic snares, and a great break-down outro, all courtesy of Murda Beatz. I would say Drake’s ability to attract hot, quality producers is one of his strengths as Scorpion features production from 40 of course, but also legends bio-1da, No I.D, DJ Premier and the rising, loud Tay Keith. Thus, the production carries this album, coupled with Drake’s ability to maintain an above-average flow, carries this album’s radio appeal (see God’s Plan, Survival, Mob Ties, In My Feelings). Speaking of legends, Jay-Z makes an appearance on “Talk Up”, with a frozen line about XXXtentacion and George Zimmerman. On “Sandra’s Rose” one of the more soulful cuts, Drake provides another “i-❤-mom” song, that isn’t horrifically corny, while providing lyrical diamonds in a very rough project.
Stans can stop reading now. This album, like Drake’s 2018, is awkward and uncertain. Every cliche “Drake-the type-of-” bar appears on this bloated, Naruto-level filler album. Scorpion is Drake being laughably egotistical, (“my mount more is just me with 4 different expressions/Who’s givin’ out this much return on investment?”), laughably unfunny (“I get 2 million a pop and that’s standard for me/Like I went blind dog, you gotta hand it to me.”), and subtlety creepy. I have always found Drake to be incredibly patronizing and classist in his lyrical rhetoric concerning women. It’s “nice-guy” rap. A lot of his songs objectify women, but it’s hip-hop, I can stomach a lot worse, and have. The irritating aspect of when Drake does it, is people praise him for it. People praise him for feeling bad about his sexism. Also the line “High school pics, you was even bad then” is well. Up to your interpretation. I’ll leave it at that.
This is the majority of Drake’s content, however, Scorpion is his sound stripped of his original appeal, and that was charisma. Forget the ghostwriting allegations, I personally believe it’s not a big deal; people write for other people, as long as the writer is compensated, I think it doesn’t completely cheapen the artist. Drake’s delivery and confidence in his previous albums allowed his masculine insecurities to translate into interesting songs. “Marvin’s Room” is one that comes to mind, despite the incel-vibes aging badly. He sold himself effectively, surrounded himself with great talent, and that’s all has to do to maintain relevance. His celebrity status has snowballed to Kardashian proportions; Drake will be fine by simply being Drake. He has literally nothing to lose. But he is acting like it. He is letting standard Hollywood drama dictate his musical decisions; the last thing his music needs. On the final track of this HOUR AND A HALF album, Drake drops the mic with “March 14”, a track were he address the hidden child allegations. He admits his son exists, but vaguely tiptoes around the more scandalous details. This attitude of emotional vagueness applies throughout every song on Scorpion. On side A, it is at most, generic trap background music. On side B, when he genuinely tries to be emotional, he reveals how emotionally awkward his thoughts and actions. I think was his intention with “March 14”, to create a cute, father-son connection, for when his son is older. If that’s the intention, cool. Doesn’t make up for what you put me through Drake. It might be contradicted by this particular line. If one’s brain wasn’t anesthetized into amnesia by the 45 minute-mark, one might remember this line on “Emotionless”: “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world/ I was hiding the world from my kid”. If Drake’s literal child could not inspire him to cut the emotional vagueness, the grating lyrical bullshit.
As a whole album, Scorpion is so pointless, made worse by how commercial and forgettable the musical experience is perceived by the listener. Every 30 seconds, I ask Drake “so what”. What was the point of pulling a poorly-mixed Michael Jackson verse from the depths of Motown? Publicity and sales. What was the point of having 6 promotional singles? Publicity and sales. What was the point of literally taking over Spotify across all genres? To go platinum in a day. What is the point of anything Drake says in this album? I don’t know. I’ll never know. I doubt anyone truly relates to this bourgy lifestyle, and as a person, Drake is at best, occasionally interesting, and worse annoyingly dull. I will def hear music that is worse than Scorpion this year. I thank 40 for giving me some great singles for my playlists. I wish him the best with his health issues. But I am almost personally offended at Drake’s apparent disinterest in making entertaining music, while being the biggest name in entertainment.
Side A: 6 out of 10
Side B: 3 out of 10