Know Yourself. Bérengère Vch/CC Flickr

For the rest of the summer, practically every club, restaurant, and shisha bar in Toronto will be playing something off of Drake’s new album. The theme of the much-anticipated LP Views is changing seasons in Toronto. It seems appropriate that his critics have responded coldly to tracks that fail to bring the heat. Even if the LP is not critically-acclaimed, listening is basically required for everyone living in the GTA.

You’ll be happy to know, therefore, that Views is not bad. “Keep the Family Close” starts out slow, and then it brings in these unreal drums reminiscent of “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. “Hype” and “Grammys” are nothing but fire. “With You,” “Controlla,” “One Dance,” and “Too Good” make use of Caribbean influences in unique ways.

In a Beats 1 interview with Zane Lowe, Drake described the album’s theme as being “based around the change of the season in our city… Winter to summer and back to winter again.” The LP does not follow this formula in a straightforward manner. It is unclear exactly what makes a “summer” versus a “winter” song to Drake.  There is a type of complexity underlying the theme that listeners might expect from an artist like Kendrick Lamar.

There is a type of complexity underlying the theme that listeners might expect from an artist like Kendrick Lamar.

 

Drake’s critics seem to hate the LP. Rolling Stone points out that Drake’s formula is: “Rap, sing, brag, emote, confess, seduce, reflect, lament — then repeat.” They’re calling the whole album predictable, boring, and narcissistic. Lots of other notable reviewers have offered similar criticisms.

The harshest critic to date is probably Anthony Fantano of  ‘theneedledrop’ on YouTube, who sounds like a disappointed father when he talks about Views. Besides pointing out the sloppy production level, he criticizes all the struggle bars like: “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum” from “Pop Style,” or “Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake?/ You know I love to go there” from “Childs Play.”

It seems like these critics don’t understand Drake’s changing musical style. He’s an R&B singer now, who makes rap on the side. He’s more comparable to Frank Ocean than Kendrick Lamar. And his lines aren’t bad,  they’re goofy, like the dance to “Hotline Bling.” If Drake didn’t make struggle bars, what would we all caption our Instagram pics with?

The real reason to listen to Views is that Toronto loves this guy. His albums act as the background music to the entire city. We listen to Drake, we talk about Drake, and we reference Drake, all day, everyday. I watched the Raptors body the Pacers this weekend while listening to Views and that was one of the most Toronto moments I’ve ever had, second only to the time I ran into Jose Bautista wearing a ‘We The North’ jersey on a delayed TTC train. Avoid listening to this, and you will miss out on countless cultural references.

Get ready to feel a weird sort of bias about Views, like you have to defend it every time someone from outside the GTA brings it up. It doesn’t really matter if it’s perfect, all that matters is that it’s a win for the 6ix.

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