The best track on the so-so new album from the world’s biggest rap star? It’s 7AM on Bridle Path – and we know where our Drake is.
It’s the latest entry in a time-stamp series that includes previously-released songs 5AM in Toronto, 9AM in Dallas, 4PM in Calabasas and 6PM in New York. In the interest of transparency, Drake is publishing his diary for us. He’s also checking his watch, and, as usual, his timing is impeccable.
Working within a hip hop genre that is obsessed with gamesmanship and filled with last-word freaks, Drake patiently waited until his supposed foe Kanye West dropped his Donda album last Sunday before releasing his long-awaited sixth album, Certified Lover Boy, in the wee hours on Friday (1 a.m. in the Eastern Time Zone, in the vernacular).
Putting out the album just days after West’s pretty much guarantees that the exhausting slog that is Donda will reside on the top of the charts for only one week. It’s the latest move in a long-running game between West and Drake. Some see it as a “feud,” or a “beef.” But we shouldn’t look at it that way. The public back-and-forth should be considered art. Their lyrical jabs at each other through their songs is poetry sent via Spotify.
Keats and Byron have nothing on West and Drake.
And West has nothing on Drake. In the race between them to see which rapper would name-drop new professional basketball kingpin Giannis Antetokounmpo first, West managed only the feeble “I won with the bucks boy, let me Giannis,” as heard on the Donda track Junya. Greek to him, West didn’t even pronounce “Giannis” properly.
Conversely, with 7AM on Bridle Path, Drake rhymes Antetokounmpo with puto, Vito Rizzuto, mucho, David Caruso, kudos and the sparkling liqueur Nuvo. It’s enough to make Eminem choke on his prosciutto. He tops it all off with this doozy: “You tell ‘em I run the country, they’ll say, ‘True, though.’” The last two words are enunciated to sound like “Trudeau.”
We recall last year’s star-studded Stronger Together broadcast in support of front line workers in the fight against the COVID-19 crisis. After Prime Minster Justin Trudeau delivered the show’s penultimate address, Drake followed with a rambling show-closing monologue and alpha-male exhibition. Last word, you see?
Overall, I’m not sure Drake has much to say on the 21-track Certified Lover Boy. With all the guest artists (including Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Young Thug and Future), there are more features to the album than on an iPhone.
Back to 7AM on Bridle Path, the album’s flow does have that early-morning-in-the-mansion vibe. Drake and his team of producers put the “mid” in midtempo. There are no obvious breakout tracks of the God’s Plan or Hotline Bling kind. Mind you, Drake has racked up more than 200 Hot 100 hits over his career. These new songs will chart, by default.
The album opener, Champagne Poetry, has some bubbles to it, in particular a cheeky doo-wop interpolation of Lennon and McCartney’s Michelle. Lyrically on Champagne Poetry, in a breathless monotone, Drake seemingly fires back at his critics.
For those who question his commitment to his child: “I been hot since the birth of my son.” About his parenting skills and the relationship with the boy’s mother: “Co-parent of the year, we figured out a rapport.”
He’s getting help for the guilt he feels over his parents’ breakup when he was young: “My parents divorce is on me / My therapist’s voice is making the choices for me.”
Apparently it’s hard to get good help these days: “Even got the cleanin’ staff plotting extortion on me.”
Drake gets criticized for his lack of political commentary, but on Champagne Poetry he appears to address the Black Lives Matter social justice movement: “The city’s on fire and people are in denial / Charges being laid, but we’ll see what they do with trial.”
Elsewhere, the album features standard braggadocio. “Not sure if you know but I’m actually Michael Jackson,” Drake claims on You Only Live Twice. “The man I see in the mirror is actually goin’ platinum.”
We’ll see if West responds to Drake’s latest work. He’s not in a strong position, though – Drake’s already dismissed him as a worthy competitor. “You over there in denial, we not neck and neck,” he raps on 7AM on Bridle Path. “It’s been a lot of years since we seen you comin’ correct.”
Certified Lover Boy will soon be a certified chart-topper. It’s seven o’clock in the morning, and it’s goodnight Kanye West.
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