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Drake bares his soul

Artist Drake balances his soft side with de rigueur rapping.
Artist Drake balances his soft side with de rigueur rapping.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Rapper shows his feelings through verses and melody on his fourth studio album Views

In one of the most anticipated hip- hop albums of recent times, Canadian artist Drake seems intent on cementing his position as one of contemporary rap's most singular artists.

Views is his fourth proper studio album and his first since Nothing Was The Same in 2013, although he has also released two acclaimed mixtapes last year, If You're Reading This It's Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive, a collaboration with American rapper Future.

Over 20 tracks, the former teen actor ramps up what he does best - balance his soft, sensitive side with de rigueur rap braggadocio.

It is a multi-faceted album, full of his trademark rapping/singing hybrid style and framed as an ode to his hometown of Toronto.

While Summers Over Interlude captures the transition between the city's cherished summer to its freezing winters, he waxes lyrical on the people who come and go in his rise to fame, most notably on album- opener Keep The Family Close ("You're supposed to put your pride aside and ride for me/Guess it wasn't time/And of course you went and chose a side that wasn't mine").

Then there are plenty of rhymes dedicated to old flames through tracks such as Redemption ("Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces?") and Hotline Bling, the meme-baiting single and viral video released in October ("Ever since I left the city you/Got a reputation for yourself now/Every- body knows and I feel left out").

  • HIP-HOP/R&B

  • VIEWS

    Drake

    OVO Sound/ Young Money/Cash Money/Boy Better Know/Republic

    4/5 stars

Don't pity him too much, though, because the arrogance comes hard and fast elsewhere in the album.

Referencing his multiple Grammys nominations and Best Rap Album gong for 2011's seminal Take Care, he goes for the jugular on his rivals on Grammys ("I would ask you what's the deal/But you don't even got a deal").

The beef with other rappers are mere dirt off his shoulder, as he would lead you to believe on tracks such as Hype (I don't know what else is left for me/After this there's no one a threat to me/My enemies wanna be friends with my other enemies/I don't let it get to me").

Having almost single-handedly put his beloved city on the global hip-hop world map, his dalliance with dancehall and afrobeat also comes to the fore in the middle third of the album, culminating in a duet with Barbadian pop star Rihanna, their fourth one to date.

That track, Too Good, is a follow- up of sorts of their last song together, the catchy Work from RiRi's recently released album, Anti. Lines such as, "Years go by too fast/I can't keep track/How long did we last?", are convincing and you ask - are the former lovebirds together again?

For the most part, the production is deliciously minimal, with collaborator and producer Noah "40" Shebib giving 1990s R&B jams a modern sheen on half the tracks. It's a perfect backdrop for a rapper not afraid to be demonstrative with his feelings through verses, flow and melody.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Drake bares his soul'. Print Edition | Subscribe