Certified Love Boy - Drake
On September 3rd 2021, Canadian superstar Drake dropped his 6th studio album, Certified Lover Boy.
Where to start with CLB, it was easily one of the most anticipated albums of 2021, and the follow up to Scorpion, which had tons of hits but was an overall mixed bag as a whole. I was expecting Drakes' best album since Views with the feature run he's been on this year, not to mention his EP Scary Hours 2, which has had three of the biggest and best songs of the year. The way he announced the features by posting billboards in the featured artist's city is some of the best last minute album promotion ever, and added even more fuel to the hype train. However upon the 2 AM eastern time drop, seeing that over eighty minute run time had me a bit worried.
The intro track Champagne Poetry is a nice little glimpse of If You're Reading This It's Too Late Drake, which we haven't seen in awhile. Drake sounds the hungriest he's been in years, but unfortunately also the hungriest he'd be on the album. He's letting you know that he's on top of the game and he knows it, but he only plans on going higher. The progression of the beat and sample, as it gets more angelic up to the switch is one of the best moments on the records, and seems to be a prelude to a return to prime Drake. The second track Papi's Home is another great song that sounds like a victory lap for Drake, making it an odd placement this early but doesn't take anything away from the album. He raps about how he fathered the modern rap game and the odd interlude from Nicki Minaj only adds to that. A solid follow up to a great introductory track.
After these two great tracks we get the middling Girls Want Girls with Lil Baby, and In The Bible which features Lil Durk and Giveon. Girls Want Girls has Drake giving one of the most cringe inducing choruses ever, over a bland trap beat stolen right out of 2019. Drake's verse and flow isn't horrible but every time I hear Drake say "You a lesbian girl, me too" it just makes the track worse. Lil Baby came through with a pretty great feature, but the rest of the song is not worth it to get to that point. In The Bible on the other hand might just be the least essential track on the whole album. Durkio and Drake give solid verses, despite Drake's weak singing, but Giveon is so out of place here, leaving you with nothing worth coming back to.
After these two misses we get a pretty long run of good songs. Love All with JAY-Z is a good song but neither drop a stand-out verse. That is followed by Drake and Travis Scott's first time together since the chart topper, Sicko Mode, and it is certainly no number one hit, but it does not disappoint either. The beat is luxurious and climactic with a great sample woven in and it progresses to fit the tone of the song throughout its run. Drake is yet again just solid throughout but Travis gives one of his best features in a while, despite the off putting start to it. If it wasn't September right now, the upbeat, charismatic Way 2 Sexy with Future and Young Thug could very well be the song of the summer. Future steals the show with a lowkey but catchy hook that just gets stuck in your head and the elite trio all drop memorable verses. This very well may be the big hit off the album, not only having hit potential but an amazingly zany music video to go with it.
Drake keeps up his consistently good output for the next couple of tracks as well. TSU is a Drake cut reminiscent of Take Care, and at this point Drake trying to hop in Future's lane is starting to get laughable, as Drake is thirty four years old and borderline a pop star. Despite that the track is good, another solid Drake verse with good use of samples and a great beat switch that keeps it interesting. N 2 Deep with Future yet again is one of the few diverse instrumentals we see with a heavy guitar riff looped throughout. It was interesting to hear Drake over this and overall good and he switched it up at the right time allowing the latter half to be a trap banger where again Future steals the show. Pipe Down is another of many great angelic samples that Drake uses throughout and although the subject matter of the track is a little uncomfortable to say the least, it is still a great track.
This brings us to Yebba's Heartbreak, which pretty much serves as an interlude that's too long. Yebba's singing is not bad by any means but it is boring and feels really out of place on this record. No Friends In The Industry is the first hype banger similar to Free Smoke or Energy that we get on Certified Lover Boy. It is nowhere near as good as either of those tracks but it could hold its own with a solid instrumental and lyrics from Drake, as well as an entertaining whisper flow. Knife Talk featuring 21 Savage and Project Pat is good, they all put up good enough performances but the beat is stale and I do not see a reason to revisit this track. Not to mention Project Pat in the intro takes his flow from Lane Switcha, off of the Fast 9 mixtape and passes it to 21 Savage, it doesn't sound bad but just comes off as lazy. 7 AM on Bridle Path is not as good as any of the other time and place songs has dropped but it's his best lyrical track with some great bars aimed right at Kanye West's neck, however if he didn't diss Ye on this track I don't think it would be as good or memorable as it is.
Race My Mind is the only real R&B cut on this album, which is good because R&B Drake is not always good, but bad because this is one of those cases. Very boring track that, like Yebba's Heartbreak, kind of throws off the pacing of the album. Fountains with a guest appearance from Tems is another weak moment where it sounds like he is desperately trying to try and recreate One Dance, except without any good vocals or passion. Another skip for me. On the contrary, Get Along Better with Ty Dolla $ign is the most moving track on the album. It is the only one that feels like some emotion was put into it. The beat progression is great and it is the only song on this album that will make you feel. You Only Live Twice with frequent collaborators Rick Ross and Lil Wayne is another track that features a high end and boisterous beat. Rick Ross comes in with his best verse quite possibly since Devil In a New Dress, with Drake staying with him with one of, if not his best verse on the album and of course Lil Wayne absolutely slides on the beat to keep up his elite feature run this year.
The final three tracks are a mixed bag. IMY2 with Kid Cudi is a great song, but it'd be better without Drake. Kid Cudi steals the show with a great verse, an even better hook and his staples hums over a spacey trap beat that Drizzy just can not keep up on. F*cking Fans is just plain boring, there is not a single thing interesting about this song, it is underproduced heavily and features Drake at his most uninteresting. The Remorse is a weak closer to another mixed bag of a Drake album, it's not inherently bad it is just goes on for too long, and blends in with several other of the cuts on this album
Certified Lover Boy is certainly no IYRTITL but it is not a bad album by any means. It's getting dragged by most people (including me) but that is only because it did not live up to the hype and looks weak in comparison to Donda. Like Scorpion, Views and More Life the album way too long so it gets boring throughout the extensive run. It is also another album where not only does Drake not evolve sonically at all, sounding the same as he did on Views, but becoming hard to take serious as someone who portrays himself as a heartbreaker throughout the album yet has a heart shaved into his head. The record feels like it was thrown together recently and severely lacks any memorable moments. That doesn't mean it's bad though, it's just not as good as we wanted it to be.