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3.5

For Drake, being the biggest male pop star in the world came at the price of living under a microscope. It’s been revealed that he was hiding a child, his best friend is suffering from a life threatening disease, he’s the product of a broken home, he’s a biracial kid from Canada, and it’s even been rumored he doesn’t write his own raps. On his new album, Scorpion, which is currently obliterating streaming records left and right, Drizzy addresses these topics—well, most of them. We all know how the month of June went for the Toronto native. We learned Drake had a son and he once wore black face thanks to Pusha T’s “Story of Adidon” diss. Not sure if that ruined his album rollout or assisted it’s success, but it definitely increased the anticipation for Scorpion, and raised the stakes.

Scorpion is a double album. For many great rappers before him, an album of this kind is usually what set them apart from the rest. Drake is a student of the game and wants to cement his legacy more, so he knows this is a box he has to check off. Like Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Nas, Outkast and others, their double albums came after or before a turning point in their career. With all the news surrounding Drizzy these past few years, this album was long overdue. With whispers that he was falling off, the nasty rumor he has an OVO sweatshop full of ghost writers, and then many people thinking Pusha T buried him lyrically, Scorpion was his opportunity to put it all to bed.

The first 12 tracks, or Side A, clearly define it as the rap side. Made clear by two of three lead singles’ (“God’s Plan” and “I’m Upset”) appearance on this disc. He then doubles down with an appearance from rap legend JAY-Z (“Talk Up”) and a production credit from the legendary DJ Premier (“Sandra’s Rose”). Drake kicks Side A off delivering his signature introspective bars over brooding production from 40 and No I.D. As we expected, he addresses many things, but not the elephant in the room—not yet, at least. For some strange reason he chooses to completely ignore Pusha T but chronicles past disputes with Diddy and Meek that have been laid to rest: I’ve had real Philly niggas try to write my endin’/ Takin’ shots with the goat and talked about shots that we sendin’/ I’ve had scuffles with bad boys that wasn’t pretendin’. In that same verse he scoffs at Kanye West, rapping,I fell back a hundred times when I don’t get the credit.” Reportedly Ye has failed on numerous occasions to give writers credits to Drake on music he helped him craft. A narrative consistent throughout this disc is that Drizzy is pretty pissed off with Kanye and the G.O.O.D. Music camp. Saving all of his pettiest lyrical jabs for them with bars sprinkled in a solid 5 of the 12 tracks on Side A. On “Nonstop,” Memphis producer Tay Keith gifts Drake with one of the hardest trap beats. His flow is sharp and focused, making us forget how corny that light skin/dark nigga” bar was because he’s in such a good pocket, rhyming. The only thing missing on the track is a verse from Juvenile or Project Pat.

The standout track on Side A is “Emotionless,” which is a flip of Mariah Carey’s 1991 hit “Emotions.” Drizzy uses his somber So Far Gone rap style, detailing that he’s finding out fame and meeting all your idols isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We also get some clarity on the status of his relationship with his son, I guess. Saying “I wasn’t hiding my son from the world, I was hiding the world from my son” is a cringeworthy bar in my opinion. Drake checks off another box on his Mt. Rushmore Rap Achievements list,” scoring a DJ Premier beat for “Sandra’s Rose.” “I’m Upset” is still probably one of the worst songs Drake has ever recorded, with more cringeworthy bars about about not going 50/50 with no hos. Especially with all the talk about his son’s mother being a rumored porn star/escort. On “8 Out of 10” the 6 God finally directs some bars Pusha T’s way, but not nearly as much as we expected. Then we have the JAY-Z collab “Talk Up” which is produced by DJ Paul that samples N.W.A.—the type of hip-hop moment that we should get more of.

On Side A, Drake displayed all of his fans favorite sides of him, giving Island Drizzy a break this time around. The introspective tone of So Far Gone and Take Care, the crisp potent raps of Nothing Was the Same, and the trap production of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. The major let-down on this project is him staying out the mud like J. Prince advised him to, and not fully responding to what Pusha said on “The Story of Adidon.” A subliminal, but nothing compared to what he’s done in the past on rap diss records and previous responses. On Scorpion, it was felt he would take a heel turn like he did on VIEWS, but instead he has stepped into the anti-hero role, though reluctantly. It’s clear he’d rather go about his business, but for some reason people just keep testing him. One important thing about Side A is that Drake definitely took notes from what the greats did on their double disc albums. Knowing that a turn in his career was on the horizon, good or bad, Drizzy approached this project more focused than he did on his previous works Views and More Life, where he came off aloof and jaded. This was a Drake who had a point he wanted to make clear. He isn’t anywhere near falling off. He falls short of a classic, but solidifies his argument for a place on rap’s Mt. Rushmore.