For the First Time, Drake Runs From His Feelings

Drake revisits his past at a moment of personal upheaval on his double album, “Scorpion.”

Drake breaks character only once on his new 25-song, 90-minute double album “Scorpion.” It comes on the last track, “March 14,” which addresses at length the fact that the 31-year-old superstar is now a father.

“Sandi used to tell me all it takes is one time/And all it took was one time,” he raps, repeating his mother’s cautionary advice. After that, the deluge: “We only met two times/Two times!” That last phrase — the repetition, the indignation, the way Drake’s voice rises and untethers when he says it — is the only moment of sweat here, the only acknowledgment that the most consummately controlled figure in pop music not named Taylor Swift is still able to be caught off guard.

Not that Drake’s career has been without anxieties and challenges — far from it. But over the past decade he has become the genre’s most sophisticated chess player, a rap strategist who understands the way offense and defense depend on each other. The throneholders before him — Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, even to some degree Kanye West — often appeared above the fray, but Drake’s broad-spectrum success has come because of his willingness to be attacked or undermined, his acceptance that part of ascending is the gravitational pull downward.

Reckoning with the responsibilities of new parenthood, untangling a brief liaison that became a lifelong bond — these are the sorts of subjects that would ordinarily animate great Drake music.

But “Scorpion” is something safer and less ambitious, largely a reprocessing of old Drake ideas and moods. It is the first Drake album that’s not a definitive stylistic breakthrough, not a world-tour victory lap, not an embrace of new grievances. It is, largely, a reminder of Drakes past, and perhaps also an attempt at maintaining stability in the face of profound emotional disruption.

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“Scorpion” is split into two conceptual halves: in the first, largely rapped, men cause him the most agita (professional, but a little bit personal, too), and in the second, largely sung, it’s women (personal, but a little bit professional, too).

“Scorpion” is Drake’s fifth album.Credit

Plenty of artists make songs that sound like their old hits, a strategy that effectively concedes creative defeat while maintaining commercial dominance. But Drake does something different. More than anyone else in pop, he is gifted at making songs that aren’t near-exact tracings of his…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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