Drake’s ‘Scorpion’: A Review

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Photo:  Hypebeast

Drake’s fifth studio album ‘Scorpion’ is indulgent, obsessive but also incredibly apt.

In comparison to his previous ‘More Life’ reggae-fuelled record, ‘Scorpion’ possesses a more typical moody yet lush Drake vibe similar to ‘Nothing Was the Same’.

A jam-packed record consisting of 25 tracks and two sides, the first consisting of more heavy rap tunes which transition into a more familiar sultry R&B sound on the second side. One of the talking points of the album is Drake’s initiation into fatherhood expressed in ‘Emotionless’, however we tend to get a sense of his emotional immaturity with the newfound position.

Fully loaded with 25 tracks, we sat down and selected the cream of the crop.

SIDE A

‘Survival’ opens with a glistening Claude Larson ‘Telex’ sample, almost sounding like the background music to a video game. Noah “40” Shebib and No I.D. cleverly reworked the sample, integrating some subtle strings alongside the original sample. Drake’s ego-fuelled lyrics set the scene in true Drizzy style as he emphatically ends with, “this just the intro, let me not get ahead of myself”. The track proceeds to fade out with the peculiar ringing ‘Telex’ sample.

It wouldn’t be a Drake album without a banger, ‘NonStop’ is just that. Produced by Tay Keith, the actual production is relatively simple which really allows Drizzy to dominate lyrically. Far from conceited, Drake flexes his business moves behind the music. Not to forget, he unapologetically confronts Pusha T throughout the track, “pullin’ gimmicks cause they scared to rap, ayy!”

‘Emotionless’ opens with a decadent classic piano melody and gospel choir alongside Mariah Carey sample of her 1991 song ‘Emotions’. Then the hard-hitting R&B bass line rolls in with Drake’s rap which ranges from his fears for the future, “I know the truth is you won’t love me until I’m gone”, to Kanye references, “Iconic duos rip and split at the seams”. But one of the biggest revelations is Drake confirming the existence of his son, Adonis“I wasn’t hiding’ my kid from the world, I was hidin’ the world from my kid”. He then ends the track with a somewhat assured uncertainty, “All these followers but who gon’ follow me to the end?”, to which Mariah’s ethereal vocals fade out.

‘God’s Plan’ is just a feel-good track, with its catchy soundscape reminiscent of something you would hear humming along whilst on a circus or festival ride. Despite the narcissism constantly swirling around him and on his mind, Drake articulates his strong belief in God in moulding his success, his purposeful isolation from those outside his circle and his pride in giving back to the people that have helped him along the way.

The accompanying music video, just as memorable as the song, directed by Karena Evans, Drake gave the budget money ($996,631.90) for the video away to families, schools and charities close to him. Consequently, the video received over 600 million views worldwide on YouTube.

‘Is There More’ is another noteworthy track, more so with Drake’s inclusion of female talent. Featuring Aussie female musician, Nai Palm vocalising Drake’s ‘ideal woman’ towards the end of the song. However, Nai Palm is not completely new to collaborating with Drizzy, as she featured on the upbeat ‘Free Smoke’ which opened Drake’s 2017 ‘More Life’ album. Additionally, ‘Is There More’ features a Maya Angelou reference and if you listen carefully hints samples of Aaliyah’s ‘More Than A Woman’.

SIDE B

Kicking off the slower, more alluring R&B section of the album, ‘Summer Games’ articulates the heartbreak of a failed relationship that moved too fast. Many speculations hint that the track is about Rihanna and Drake’s short-lived summer relationship. Fittingly, the instrumental possesses a woozy heavy bass-fuelled synth chugging along quickly beside Drake’s slower vocals and a hard-hitting drum beat, all working to perfectly capture the essence of the relationship.

‘Jaded’ alludes to Drake’s romantic interest for Jorja Smith, who was featured on the tracks ‘Jorja’s Interlude’ and ‘Get It Together’ for Drake’s 2017 ‘More Life’ album. As the song quite literally ticks along, it’s impossible to ignore the refreshing, fizzling pulsating synth bringing to life the romantic electricity Drake feels towards Jorja. Ty Dolla Sign interjects some atmospheric, dreamy background vocals throughout the chorus, as Drake speaks his thoughts for Smith, “I wanna be around while you chasin’, You wanna’ hit me up when you make it”.

‘Nice for What’ opens with Big Freedia’s punchy vocals, “I wanna know who mothafuckin’ representin’ in here tonight”. Then, Lauryn Hill’s rich angelic voice erupts, “I keep lettin’ you back in, how can I, explain myself”. The catchy and snappy Ovo 40 production features a winning combo of Lauryn Hill’s ‘Ex-Factor’ sped-up with a bass sample of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Can It All Be So Simple/Intermission’. By re-working such a classic hit in a way that is refreshing yet still respectful of the original is what makes this track particularly auspicious.

Additionally, what makes this track so magical is Drake’s emphasis on female empowerment in the digitial age. Although this track strangely contradicts ‘Emotionless’, Drake now sheds a positive light on these online bloggers, understanding and appreciating their hustle which is often widely criticised.

‘That’s How You Feel’ features a particularly potent sample from Nicki Minaj’s ‘Boss Ass Bitch’, which just gives the track a whole lot of ‘boss-ass’ attitude. Once again, it’s been suggested this song is about his broken relationship with Rihanna, as Drake articulates, “Time gets to tickin’ and it takes a toll, told you I couldn’t really draw the line”. However, Drake is also unafraid of expressing that he still has feelings for her, “workin’ to try to get you off my mind”.

‘Don’t Matter to Me’ features a captivating Micheal Jackson sample from a 1983 recording between Jackson and Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka. Definitely one of the best from the album, the soundscape instantly has ‘Micheal Jackson’ written all over it as soon as you hear his voice. The combination of the striking ‘Michael-type’ percussion and claps fused with the gloomy ‘Drake-type’ synth is a perfect marriage of sound.

Purchase ‘Scorpion’ here.

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