5 Takeaways From Drake’s New Album Honestly, Nevermind

5 Takeaways From Drake’s New Album Honestly, Nevermind

We only had a few hours’ notice before Drake released Honestly, Nevermind, his seventh studio album, into the world. As he did with 2021’s Certified Lover Boy, he presaged its release by sharing a majestically incoherent note on Apple Music, spilling over with guffaw-worthy Drake-isms. “I can’t remember the last time someone put they phone down, looked me in the eyes, and asked my current insight into the times,” went one line, which made me wonder if Drake was waiting patiently for someone to quiz him on runaway inflation or how Democrats can avoid a rout in the midterms. After that, he released the video for “Falling Back,” a bizarre and somewhat depressing spectacle in which he marries 23 different Instagram models. The Drake meme machine seemed to be firing up in preparation of another typical Drake banquet—ridiculous quotables, samples so absurdly expensive that Drake could have used the money to fund Toronto city schools for a year, a tracklist that made you cancel your weekend plans to get through the whole thing.

So it’s a bit of a surprise to see that Honestly, Nevermind is one of his shortest albums ever—14 tracks, over in less than an hour—and that it contains only a few transcendently stupid Drake Thoughts. The album is filed under “dance” on Apple Music, and throughout Drake downplays his rapper persona in favor of crooning behind lush, air-conditioned beats. One of the biggest takeaways is how little there is to… take away. Drake doesn’t reignite any beefs, share any particularly extravagant pieces of gossip, co-opt any big memes, or even utter the name of a single major chain restaurant. It feels like one smooth-brain dance playlist, like if you put on his hit “Passionfruit” and let the algorithm do the work for the next 52 minutes. Let’s get into it:

Drake once again hits up his African pop connections

As he tends to do whenever his music needs a shot of adrenaline, Drake leans heavily on contemporary African pop here. After 2015’s drab, cramped VIEWS, he regrouped with 2017’s More Life. Now, after Certified Lover Boy scored the requisite No. 1s while mostly inducing some polite yawns, he is going back to the well. The Congolese-born Afropop musician Tresor worked on six of the album’s 14 songs and contributed vocals to three; Black Coffee, a longtime Drake collaborator, is listed as one of the album’s executive producers, and his son, Esona Tyolo, has writing and production credits on “Texts Go Green.” Honestly, Nevermind sets the BPM at “One Dance” and doesn’t let up.

Honestly, the unchanging Drake-iness of Drake’s music is starting to get a little creepy

Has any major pop figure of the last 10 years been as resistant to change as Drake? Perhaps the most interesting thing to happen to him all decade was when Pusha T nearly murdered him with one line (“You are hiding a child”), but apart from seeming knocked on his back foot for a few hours, he regrouped, told the world he had concealed his child because of Instagram, and kept on making Drake music. What, if anything, could ruffle that composure at this point? Honestly, Nevermind raises this question even more than Scorpion or Certified Lover Boy, in part because the lyrics are so interchangeable. By now, Drake albums are like software updates—they don’t go away until you finally click on them, and when you do, you only notice the stuff that doesn’t work as well.

There’s lots of of easy nostalgia to be had in the production

In general, the beats take a lot of tricks from late-2000s and early-2010s dance music, and the emphasis is on frictionless, recognizable sounds. Onetime collaborator Jamie xx is a big touchpoint, as is Moodymann, Diplo, and various high-energy regional dance styles. On “Currents,” music’s most famous bedspring sound pops up, but Drake keeps it very chaste and earnest, singing, “You’re the missing piece I been longing for” against the giggle-inducing squeaka-squeaka.

Drake almost disappears himself

In general, there is very little rapping. Outside of “Sticky,” some of which must have been recorded in the last few weeks since it contains a shout-out to Young Thug and his ongoing legal drama (“Free Big Slime out the cage”), and the last track, “Jimmy Cooks,” featuring a fierce guest verse from 21 Savage, Drake plays the background, crooning sweetly in your ear about the ways in which you are disappointing to him, personally (“I’m still holdin’ my breath for the day that you will/See that the effort I make is too real/How can you say that you know how I feel?”) or how he is disappointing to you but if you would only hold on a second (“Swervin’ between emotions/I know we got real issues/Can’t give in so еasily.”) Like an HVAC at a Crunch Fitness, he’s always humming away in the background, but you sometimes have trouble isolating him from the surroundings.

A few parting thoughts…

  • On “Sticky,” Drake complains about only being given a plus one to the Met Gala, so he couldn’t bring D-Block. It’s one of the album’s more reasonable gripes—we need to see Sheek Louch in Timbs and cargo shorts on the red carpet.
  • Did you know Drake didn’t already have a song called “Texts Go Green”?
  • “I know my funeral gon’ be lit ’cause of how I treated people,” he claims on “Massive.” Does this mean that Drake imagines a tableau of weeping, grateful faces, women prostrating themselves at the foot of a recently erected golden statue? Or does he dream of brawls, hair-pulling, self-immolations? What are Drake’s thoughts on karma, and the hereafter?!
  • Let’s say, for a thought experiment, that Drake absconded Earth on Elon Musk’s SpaceX jet with the 23 Instagram models he married in “Falling Back,” starting his own space cult centered around his own Genius annotations. In this scenario, he never releases another note of original music, leaving the work of churning out “Drake” music to a deepfake AI. My question here is: Based on Honestly, Nevermind, would anyone even notice?

#Takeaways #Drakes #Album #Honestly #Nevermind