Double albums can often serve as the make or break for an artist’s journey. What’s put forth, I’d assume, is the effort to split the creative intention down the middle. With each album, Drake’s persona only grows. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the allure of what attracted your core fanbase, all while welcoming new listeners that may have been late to the party. Scorpion comes at a time where Drake is being tested once more. Headline-worthy beefs aside, his stardom has skyrocketed, but not without taking a toll on his output; his innocence has been replaced with vengeance. And though he’s arguably inspired a generation after him to tap into their vulnerability, his level of fame leaves him jaded—So much so, this demands for his dual talent to be separated entirely—at least for the moment.
Side A of Scorpion found Drake mixing formulaic raps with facing a new chapter in his life. His rigorous honesty has always been a strong point, and he attempts to hone in on this even more with Side B. As most double disc offerings, it switches gears drastically. “Peak” throws listeners into the vulnerability pool, with sensual, yet captivating production. The song coyly makes references to a British girl, and let the internet tell it, its an open reference to his alleged romance with English singer Jorja Smith. “England breeds proper girls, where are all your good manners?,” he sings. The feels continue to bleed through song as displayed on “Summer Games” and “Jaded” respectively. The latter recalls yet another love lost story, aaaannd more references to Jorja Smith. “Differences in ages, you’re old enough, but you’re still a baby,” he croons. Joined by feature artist of the hour Ty Dolla $ign, its easily one of the biggest highlights of not just the second half of the album, but the entire project.
Throughout, Drake caters to his female audience but more than ever before, he’s conscious enough to target every corner of his fanbase. “Ratchet Happy Birthday” may appear out of place initially, but its a different approach for him that hadn’t been portrayed through song—it almost could’ve been an SNL skit. The stuntastic bounce of “Blue Tint” is enough for a summer banger in the making, and as I write this, I’m certain someone is filming a new “In My Feelings” challenge. Everyone from Will Smith to Ciara, thanks to Shiggy, has welcomed this monstrous hit and its only going to get bigger. Not all is celebratory, though. “Don’t Matter to Me” features Michael Jackson and is riddled with a hit-chasing stench that Drake simply didn’t need. MJ’s ghostly vocals don’t really fit the mold of whatever it is Drake was trying to convey here. “After Dark” features Ty Dolla $ign and the late Static Major. Its a case of the features stealing the show, but makes for a collaborative effort thats noteworthy enough to make it to your “after hours” playlist.
Its almost impossible to talk about Scorpion without the mention of Pusha T, or the smear campaign that was “The Story of Adidon.” Whether or not the diss track took a toll on Drake, we have “March 14″—his full-on dedication track for his son he was accused of “hiding,” closing out the disc. Rappers with songs for their offspring is far from new in the Hip-Hop genre, but this one feels a bit different. There’s a sense of disappointment in himself here that is hard to ignore. “Single father, I hate when I hear it, I used to challenge my parents on every album, now I’m embarrassed to tell ’em I ended up as a co-parent,” he admits. His voice even stammers in his admittance.
Though there’s much to admire in the fact that after 10 years, Drake can still unlock different layers to himself, Side B of Scorpion carries an air of disappointment buried under its guaranteed chart toppers. For the first time in his career it doesn’t seem as though he was in complete control of his artistic direction. Both Side A and B pull Drake in different directions, and he may have tried to appease his growing audience by separating his intent. With both sides though, he managed to capture his essence for the time being; unfortunately it came at a bloated price. This is just one of many reasons double disc releases can be risky. But as Hov would tell it, it’s the gift and the curse.