Drizzy has been busy this last year or so following his last mixtape release; The Dark Lane Demo Tapes, as he has been embroiled in beefs, an ACL injury, and the launch of his own clothing brand NOCTA. In between all these things, he somehow got the time to finally release the highly anticipated album Certified Lover Boy, which was originally slated for a release in January of this year. Nearly 9 months later (something that a lot of fans have speculated to be a reference to the 9 months it takes for a woman to give birth) we have an album that was released within days of his rival Kanye West’s album DONDA. As the internet divides and decides their side, does CLB standalone as a great piece of work? Well for short, yes. Yes, but with some asterisks.
First and foremost, this is indeed another classic Drizzy album for any of his fans and appreciators, it is absolutely drenched in his machismo and elegance through a mainstream-friendly lens. By design, this album starts with the familiarity of the loud and brash introductions that Drake sticks to for most of his music but this time he eases into the real intro with “Papi’s Home” as it seems like a true opening from the prologue that is “Champagne Poetry”.
It has all of the lows and highs that one could expect in tone from Drake, who ruthlessly passes through a spectrum of feelings and thoughts in a quick blur of smooth hooks and straight-forward bars that seem to serve as a means for him to brag even further about his career.
However, it seems like he has reached a point where his career is already solidified so the seriousness that has been a staple of the first major pieces of work from Drake seems to be an afterthought for the sake of the music, which itself suffers from that very lack of seriousness.
In terms of classic, standard solemn tracks that provide his album with an elegant gusto we have “Love All” with JAY-Z, “Girls Want Girls” with Lil Baby, “IMY2” with Kid Cudi, “Fair Trade” with Travis Scott, and “Papi’s Home”.
After that, we have the much angrier and almost toxically competitively composed tracks with “No Friends In The Industry” and “7am On A Bridle Path”, which seem much more embroiled in the ongoing beef with Kanye, something that I mentioned hindered Ye’s own album DONDA and it is no different here. CERTIFIED LOVER BOY should have been without these kinds of rough additions that serve no purpose other than to add fuel to the fire of their conflict and distract from the overall narrative of what should be a rap-centric romantic album.
3 of the 4 best tracks (which are admittedly excellent on their own), are centered around that very theme and they serve as proper additions to the album. These are “Way 2 Sexy” with Future and Young Thug, “TSU”, and “Yebba’s Heartbreak”. And sure, Yebba’s song was mainly an interlude but it perfectly encapsulated the type of blend between what should’ve been a beautiful marriage of RNB, trap, and soul.
One could argue that some of the other loosie tracks like “Knife Talk” with 21 Savage and “Champagne Poetry” should be closely paired as promises a portrait of luxury and power, rather than any deeper meaning since Drake has notably stuck to a much simpler subject matter in the majority of his music but at the end of the day, this album is supposed to be Certified Lover Boy, not Certified Mixed Guy.
For rap fans, there is something to gain, for Drake fans, it’s another classic that deserves recognition, and for music fans, it could be another pop-oriented hip-hop album that lacks the depth that they crave, but what it is at its very core is some good music to vibe to. Nothing less and at its surface, not much more.
Where Drake suffers and lives is at the balance between being representative of larger ideas and indicative of small references to obscure life situations. Proving to be a hip-hop Larry David, Drake is not for everyone and neither is CLB, but it doesn’t make it less than the average, it makes it about everything and nothing.
Umm, this album isn’t what I wanted it to be. It’s kind of basic in terms of themes and it feels shallow, but Drake himself said that it was “part Toxic masculinity” so take that for what it’s worth. Controversial, but he’s still a great artist that deserves the recognition of the best and this further solidifies that. Like LD said: “having said that”, I really wish this album took itself as seriously as the hardcore fans such as myself did. Also note, that this album has a lower rating than DONDA but it isn’t inferior, as this one has better singles while the other had a better body of work.
FAVORITE TRACKS: “No Friends in The Industry”, “TSU”, “Knife Talk” ft., 21 Savage, Metro Boomin and Project Pat, “Way 2 Sexy” ft. Young Thug & Future, and “Yebba’s Heartbreak” ft. Yebba