Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book: Mixtape Review

It’s been a hectic couple of years for Chance The Rapper. Ever since his first mixtape release was noticed on soundcloud in 2010 the only direction has been up. This is telegraphed by the positioning of his gaze on his three mixtape covers which I suggest you look at if you hadn’t already noticed. On his first mixtape (10 Day) he can be seen looking up into the sky, on his second mixtape (Acid Rap) he is looking directly forwards and now on his third and most recent one (Coloring Book) he’s looking down on the competition. A very witty and well thought out piece of imagery which speaks volumes for the Chicago born rapper’s rise to superstardom. His hero and role model, Kanye West, also a Chicago proud rapper, presented Chance to those who hadn’t heard him before on his recent album ‘The Life Of Pablo’, on which we were blessed by perhaps the verse of the album by Chance himself on ‘Ultralight Beam’. His fast paced, upbeat flow and production has provided a refreshing change to the image of rap music and as his name grows even larger, we anticipate even more from his projects. Will ‘Coloring Book’ be child’s play? Or will it be the gospel album of a lifetime we were all promised?

All We Got (Feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir) – 8.5/10
Beautiful horn intro twinned with gradually increased paced snare really sets the tone for the song. Chance begins in slightly hushed tones before exploding onto the track with a louder and quicker rap which brings with it the orchestra behind it creating a mirage of pleasant sound. The influence of Kanye one this song isn’t as prominent as I would have initially expected and there’s nothing in the form of a verse from him but instead an autotuned few lines in the chorus and hook. That poignant line of “music’s all we got really gives you the feeling of passion and raw emotion that not only went into this song, but Chance’s career, showing that although on the surface it may not seem it, Chicago is a city that bleeds music and celebrates gospel vibes. It can be a bit all over the place at times but it is clear as to why this has been done, mainly to show the emotion being spilled onto every note of the vocals and instrumentals. I think it’s an incredibly strong start to the album and represents everything Chance has stood for throughout his career, but it doesn’t match up to ‘Ultralight Beam.’

No Problem (Feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz) – 8/10
At first glance, you would be puzzled by this collaboration but it works absolutely brilliantly. Another key thing to point out is that despite the enormity of Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz as names in the rap industry, Chance doesn’t let them take over this song and therefore lose its traditional ‘Chance sound’ and that is as important an involvement as any on this project. He’s tone and style for rapping can be questionable occasionally, particularly at the start but it seems as the song goes on he slowly fades back into normality with his voice. Catchy chorus in which the gospel choir are mixed and twisted in the background along with Chance’s trademark chant. 2 Chainz has a strong verse no doubt and controls the flow well but there are far too many times when Lil Wayne gets drowned out by the instrumental, through no fault of his own. It seems bizarre that this would be allowed after months of tweaking to make it perfect and you can barely hear one of the most iconic feature rappers on this mixtape because of the beat? It’s the only thing that lets this otherwise brilliant song down.

Summer Friends (Feat. Jeremih & Francis & The Lights) – 8.5/10
Takes a long time to get into the song but my word is it worth it. Electronic but subtle beat creates a wonderful atmosphere for the song and tees up Chance for a verse which is probably the best on the album, impeccable timing, flow, rhyme, you name it and this first verse had it. The lyrics of this song show more of an acknowledgment of his success to what we usually see from Chance as he looks back at the friends he’s kept along the way but also unfortunately those who are there just for the short term gain of being a famous rapper’s friend, which is the main purpose of this song. It’s a powerful message which is portrayed in a catchy yet meaningful matter. Jeremih’s verse is short but sweet and coincides well with the song. Great song, that’s 3/3 success rate so far, this mixtape really has started magnificently and long may it continue.

D.R.A.M. Sings Special – 7/10
A bit of a filler to set up the next song but you can see why it has its place and it links the songs well, has a spaced out feel to it with nothing but positivity in the air as the lyrics repeat “everyone is special, this I know is true” which is a lovely message to send across. It’s positivity like this which is why Chance is causing such a stir in the rap industry at the moment with these blissful lyrics which focus solely on the glory and beauty of life, as opposed to looking down on everything and feeling sad about things. It’s the perfect message to send across and he knows that. The only reason this song doesn’t get a higher rating is due to it being more of a transitional piece rather than an actual song, but it’s still great nonetheless.

Blessings – 9/10
Such a mellow song in which Chance gives thanks to everything he’s been given in life, stating that “when the praises go up, the blessings come down” which is another positive message in which it shines his love for religion in a very positive light. His love for God in this song is the main thing to take away from this song as he thanks him for everything in life and all the success he’s achieved. An amazingly chilled out song which is bound to put a smile on your face, beautiful work once again by Chance. You could listen to that over and over again it’s just so soothing to hear.

Same Drugs – 8/10
Just Chance and a piano, it’s so simple yet so effective. Speaks of a transformation from drugs to blessings and a religious dedication to his life and almost offering himself as an example that it’s never too late to escape from the evil world of drugs and seemingly be saved by the Lord like Chance has. The power the gospel choir have by simply harmonising once or twice in the chorus is unbelievable as they just make everything sung about by Chance seem so much more real and meaningful, like they’ve been pulled directly from his heart and soul. If this song stopped after 3:30 I would have been more than happy but I just feel like it dragged a bit towards the end and you were sort of willing it on and for it to be over. It didn’t play too much of a part in the rating of this song, however as its such a minor aspect of a great gospel track.

Mixtape (Feat. Young Thug & Lil Yachty) – 4.5/10
What a change, this is an absolutely filthy beat which sounds crackly and almost broken in its style. Seems like a bit of a shot at other rappers who don’t seem to “care about mixtapes” and clearly, as seen by Chance’s mixtape heavy discography, is a big part of how he raps. The chorus does sound a bit whiny and can grind on you at times, and don’t even get me started on Young Thug’s verse. Now I’ve never been Thug’s biggest fan, he’s barely tolerable at the best of times but this is just agony. Not only can you not understand a single thing he says, he also changes his tone to this excruciating squeal almost and it does seem as though he’s only doing it to sound recognisable, it’s god awful. I didn’t rate much about this song really other than the beat which is proof that Chance can go outside that gospel commercial barrier and go toe to toe with the bigger rappers. The song itself is quite poor though and easily takes the prize as the worst on the album.

Angels (Feat. Saba) – 10/10
Genius, absolute genius. Almost a year old this song and it hasn’t aged by a single second. An absolutely infectious beat and a brilliant breathless vocal performance by Chance himself, what’s there not to like? The chorus is absolutely fantastic, it sounds like something fresh off a Caribbean beach with the wonderful steel drum beat before the Chicago sound is implemented with the trumpets and Chance just carries on once again as he started. He shows the confident side of a Chance that we all love and uses all of this energy from the track to be released vocally and refer to how he has “Angels all around” him and that they keep him “surrounded” which must mean he’s top dog to attract that many angels just for him. A sublime song with a touch of Caribbean heritage, it’s absolutely joyous and above all, grand.

Juke Jam (Feat. Justin Bieber & Towkio) – 6.5/10
A song all about the love between two people and how they used to incorporate music into their relationship. The chorus of “we gon’ have a juke jam, just like we used to” is an effective lyric, especially with the feeling that these two have perhaps broke up now and are remembering all the times they shared together. On paper, the feature of Justin Bieber, perhaps the biggest name in today’s music, would have created a huge buzz and had fans excited to see what could be produced. In reality, it’s a smooth beat with smooth vocals and passionate lyrics but that’s about it. You feel a bit short changed by Bieber in that all he does is harmonise with Towkio in the chorus and then technically has one line in the whole song which he sings a couple of times. It is an okay song and very easy listening but won’t be hugely memorable in the grand scheme of things.

All Night (Feat. Knox Fortune) – 8.5/10
Short and sweet track which fits into that ilk of a ‘modern hip hop beat’ but it also has a nice funk twist in its depth. I love this beat and it’s only made better by the brilliant hook vocals by Knox Fortune who makes you want to get up and dance, it’s such an upbeat song and works fantastically with the whole mixtape. Chance’s bars are a bit cheeky and jokey but have fantastic delivery and flow in his classic tone and pitch. It’s just a short but brilliant jolly track with a funky modern beat, another track that hits dead on the money for this, so far, fantastic project.

How Great (Feat. Jay Electronica & My Cousin Nicole) – 8/10
Religious imagery again with the opening of the song having a gospel choir sing “how great is our God?” This is a real tone setter for the song but it does drag on for far too long, I can understand why he leaves it for this long of course I can as he is trying to slowly transition the gospel into his style of song but it takes about a minute and a half too long for my liking. When this Jay Electronica influenced beat kicks in there’s a real sense of devotion and dedication to his Lord in a joyous tone. It must be said that what we lose in the very long intro, Chance more than makes up for it with his verse, a nearly two minute long verse full of celebratory bars for not only his life but also his hometown of Chicago and how he will never leave his roots behind. Jay Electronica’s verse is also brilliant and fast paced to provide a fitting end to a great song full of passion and love for his religious beliefs. The lyrics Chance uses are heartfelt and also heavily involved with God, lines like “I don’t believe in science” or when he states that everyone in Chicago is his “cousin” it’s a familial bond which links everyone together. Great song which would have been even better if the intro wasn’t so long winded.

Smoke Break (Feat. Future) – 8/10
Space aged beat which you do feel has been crafted by both Chance and Future with Future’s very distinct banger style vocals in mind as these snares become frequent at the end of each line. With this comes Chance using his vocals to incorporate this beat and so he ends each line with a sharp delivery of the word to make it stand out and be clear. Slows down the beat and thus the tone of the track after his second verse with a more melodic tone before building it straight back up for Future’s glaringly obvious lyricism to come into play (that was a lie). As I’ve said before about Future, you can never have a clue what he says but you’ve just learnt to cope with it now because he has a voice which is difficult to ignore and not only that, releases consistent high quality bangers which go down a treat in the rap industry. This is another top draw song about love and sensuality in which Chance shows himself off as this wonderful lover in every possible way and how he’s lucky to have the girl of his dreams there with him.

Finish Line/Drown (Feat. T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane & Noname) – 8.5/10
The longest track on the whole project and with a name like ‘Finish Line’ you would have imagined it would be put at the end of the mixtape but it hasn’t been for some reason. With it being almost seven minutes long it leaves the listener hoping for quality otherwise that is an awful lot of wasted time. Luckily, he delivers on this song as he always does. A beautiful and calm song which wouldn’t go amiss as the theme song for a cheeky American family sitcom with its groovy piano and drum instrumental. He really never ceases to amaze on his vocals too as his second verse sounds like he doesn’t even breathe, it literally sounds like a minute of non stop rap with no breaks for breath, it’s unbelievable talent to be quite honest. The best is something quite different for the first part of this song (‘Finish Line’) in that it’s almost like a band behind him with all the generic band instruments rather than a computer created beat. I like it, however, I like it a lot. On the second part of this song (‘Drown’) there’s a brilliant feature by Eryn Allen Kane who raps fantastically and really holds her own well against the legendary Kirk Franklin who appears after her. Just his legendary voice is all that’s needed for this song to be graced by his magnificence and it’s a brilliant ending to this very long but very powerful song. I thoroughly enjoyed every second and love the transition from part one to two.

Blessings (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign) – 9/10
A second song called Blessings on the same album which seems odd but this time there is a feature of renowned king of the hip hop feature Ty Dolla $ign. This is slightly different to the first Blessings track as he begins with a rap of epic proportions and ability and raps about being “Kanye’s best prodigy” which is one of many stand out just fantastic lines. The chorus is melodic, harmonic, soft, beautiful, just about any word you could use to describe a calm beat would fit the criteria for this. It’s a great job done by Ty Dolla $ign who coincides well with the choir and helps belt out “are you ready for the blessings”, a confident but loving line used to create a peaceful atmosphere for all listening to it. A quite magical way to end the mixtape and it leaves me with zero complaints, magnificent.

Overall – 8.5/10
Wow, just wow. This is truly phenomenal. There is one song I really dislike on this mixtape, and a huge portion of my disliking from the song hasn’t even come from Chance himself so that says it all really. He puts an incredible modern hip hop spin on a soulful gospel vibe and creates what I would call a modern hybrid masterpiece. This album is for me, without question, the best project released this year and it will take some shifting from the top spot. Angels, Blessings, All We Got and Summer Friends were absolute classics just to name a few and comparing it to his other two mixtapes, it’s definitely better than ’10 Day’ and is on level par with ‘Acid Rap’, both of which are absolute gems. It looks like Chicago is moulding a new king of hip hop to follow in Kanye’s footsteps, look out world.

Skepta – Konnichiwa: Album Review

Coming from out of the rough estates of North London, UK grime artist Skepta has swept the youth of the nation with his brash and fast paced raps spread over a 10 year career. He has come to prominence in the last two years with his huge hits ‘That’s Not Me’ and ‘Shutdown’ which still to this day sound brilliant and are at the top of the grime genre. His success has spread stateside as he has become friendly with Canadian rapper and global superstar Drake, who featured on Shutdown and brought Skepta out for his Wireless performance in 2015. This and an entourage performance on a Kanye West BRIT awards performance have meant that Skepta has played a pioneering role in making grime as big as it is today and now he’s back with a highly anticipated album called ‘Konnichiwa’. This release will only increase his following and influence even more people across London but will it hit the dizzying heights of Skepta’s recent success? Will we be saying hello to an album of the year contender or will  we be giving this a sayonara?

Konnichiwa – 9/10
Traditional Japanese activity in the background at the start creates a setting for the song and motive behind the album. Absolutely brilliant beat then kicks in with a slight mix on a classic Boy Better Know track. He raps all about his unexpected rise from North London to being friends with Drake and performing at the Brit Awards. Does show this humble side by saying he “performed at the Brits and walked home in the rain” but that modesty soon disappears as he goes onto the widely regarded topic of grime MCs thinking they are the best. Skepta is soon to squash any possibility of someone taking his crown with this pulsating and classic opener. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come because this is fantastic.

Lyrics – 8/10
Begins with a soundbite of being told people don’t want to listen to his genre. Once again it’s a very quick transition into a catchy chorus where he raps about being heard on the radio and seen on the TV as if he is still surprised by his fame but that he is aware that he is flying the flag for UK rap music. This is a banger in that it’s got a catchy chorus which could be easily sung along to and has a solid feature with great verses. The beat has a great effect on it which has the occasional siren sound and what sounds like a game console sound within an otherwise basic beat and these effects make it very strong and create a new dimension and sound for the track. Not as good as the opener but still very very good and sends the message that is sure to make all UK rappers very optimistic for the future.

Corn on the Curb – 7/10
Passionate involvement at the start in which he reiterates the importance of carrying on fighting against prejudice and discrimination across the globe. A more aggressive side to Skepta, it’s clear this is more of a statement than a song as he shows this anger in the tone of his voice. This song goes from 0-100 when the legendary grime artist Wiley does his part on the hook which is brilliant and a much needed change from this pure attack from Skepta. Discussion of crime on the streets within this song as Skepta shows a struggle from being worried about being shot and not seeing his son yet the crime also entices him and his rebellious side. This song is COMPLETELY RUINED by the stupid phone conversation between Skepta and Chip which really does seem like a horrendously cheesy celebration of Skepta’s achievements and how he’s “turned the country on its head.” This is a good song and without the ridiculous phone call at the end it’s a great song.

Crime Riddim – 6.5/10
Very oriental styled beat, linking back to the ‘Konnichiwa’ album name and perhaps where he got some of his influence. A verbal attack on the police in this song as he encourages young black youth to not accept the authority provoking the black community. Despite this message he does basically come clean about fighting in the streets and probably being worthy of his arrest but he only says that in hushed tones in the bridge and not in his raps, perhaps protecting his reputation and his name from being a joke. It sure is a Crime Riddim but it gets ruined by this pathetic conversation between ‘roadmen’ and an American, it all just seems stupid and irrelevant which is a shame because once again it damages the song as a whole.

It Ain’t Safe – 8/10
Filthy beat with catchy lyrics and an infectious, rebellious chorus. What more can you want from a top draw grime song? “It ain’t safe on the block, not even for the cops” is repeated in the chorus and shows just how intense the rough areas of London are, but there’s an embracing of that attitude shown by Skepta here as he reminisces on how he would hide in his house and peak round the the corner to find them and make sure they don’t see him. The police activity would never stop him from committing crimes, even now it seems as he goes on about people disrespecting “the gang” and that he would start fights in the street no matter how famous he is. It is a good song with a hardcore beat, but I probably wouldn’t play it to the kids as it sends completely the wrong message. Whether or not it’s PC doesn’t stop it being a banger, mind you.

Ladies Hit Squad – 8.5/10
A huge feeling of A$AP Mob influence is felt as A$AP Jest provides the vocals on the chorus and I assume he helps with the production as well. This was released as a single a couple of weeks before and you can see why as it’s spaced out vibe has the feel of marijuana inspiration as well as a great chorus. Of all the verses, Skepta stands out as he is cheeky and sexual in his approach but hits the spot with his flow and rhyme which are both impeccable as ever. A different style of so to what we usually expect from Skepta but it’s welcome and creates one of the many highlights on this album.

Numbers – 7/10
Seems to continue with this deep, underground Harlem, New York style beat production which provides a fantastic platform for Skepta to release great verses. Smooth chorus with a sway style but could perhaps experiment more than the basic case of “numbers”. As well as this you do feel a bit short changed with Skepta’s verses as they are quite short and, at times, slack and slow. I liked the feature on the chorus but the actual verse he performs is boring and not very original. Skepta once again stamps his authority and ensures he doesn’t get outclassed on his own song which is a sure fire sign of the man’s talents.

Man – 9/10
Great shout for the best beat of the year alongside ‘Kanye West’s Father a Stretch My Hands Pt 1’. That absolutely phenomenal wobbly noise he creates on the main part of the beat makes it sound like a public service announcement and instantly grabs your attention, it’s absolutely incredible. Not to mention that twinned with that heavy bass on the verses it sounds even better and creates a great flow for Skepta to follow. The song is lyrically all about his monumental fame in this country and how he has a huge following that are only recently trying to link up with him. “I don’t know why man are calling me family all of a sudden” is a great line which highlights the lifestyle he lives and how he must find it near on impossible to trust anyone. A truly brilliant song, in the top three for the album.

Shutdown – 9.5/10
Skepta got Drake to feature on a grime song, that is all that needs to be said about this strike of genius. I have had the privilege of seeing this song live and to call it bedlam wouldn’t be doing it justice. It has captured the imaginations of young people all over the country and made people recognise the incredible work UK grime artists are doing to make the genre big. Without doubt the best part of this song is the inclusion of a public complaint about Kanye West’s BRIT Awards performance, in which grime artists such as Skepta, Stormzy, Krept and Konan created a menacing entourage and woke the public up to the reality of today’s youth. It truly was the performance of a group of talented visionaries. By including that complaint he is showing the stir he is causing and how he couldn’t care less. This song is brilliant, has dominated the club’s with its intense vibe and even charted in the UK, serious movements for the Grime scene.

That’s Not Me – 10/10
If Shutdown was a huge moment for UK grime, then the release of That’s Not Me was colossal. Released what seems like an eternity ago, Skepta and his brother, fellow grime artist JME, created a trance sound which people could vibe along to and started this wave of new school grime for artists such as Yungen, Krept & Konan and most notably Stormzy to create a catchy hook which would stand out to the youth of Britain who are crying out for a change. This was a club colossus and still is to this day, with both Skepta and JME supplying 10/10 verses which are as memorable as it gets for this genre. The message within the lyrics is also quite poignant as it challenges modern trends and tells people to go against the grain. “I used to wear Gucci but I threw it in the bin ‘cos that’s that’s not me” is another way of telling people to stop conforming to society’s rules and regulations and just being yourself. The best song on this album and probably the best grime song of the last decade, it’s that good.

Detox – 6.5/10
Well how do you follow those three songs up? With a psychedelic deep house beat and verses about weed of course. The beat is magical and another sign of Skepta’s genius production but the verses are a bit silly and aren’t really as solid as the standards he has usually set himself. Jammer is his usual crazy self on this song and, as is usually the case, you can barely understand what he’s saying but he flows well so that’s enough for us. The other features are ok but nothing more than that, Skepta again holds the best verse on this song but even hat isn’t of his highest quality. Probably the weakest actual song of the album but only has the same rating as Crime Riddim because that had the ludicrous phone conversation between the London boys and the American man.

Text Me Back – 8.5/10
Classic text tone sounds used at the start of the track makes the whole song feel like a real throwback in time to old school nokias. More of a love song than we’ve usually heard from Skepta but it works well and shows a different side to the North London rapper. Still uses his road talk but it’s quite romantic and with that comes a slight melody twinned with a filthy grime beat. Raps about his ambition and how sometimes he has to neglect his loved ones to make sure he earns the money to reward them for bringing him up. It’s a lovely message with a roadman twist, who would of thought someone could twist that? Definitely the most inventive and thought provoking song Skepta has released from this album and it works very well as a finale. The fade before the last 40 seconds makes you think it’s over but there’s a great smooth beat at the end, again sounding quite oriental and perhaps paying homage to that Japanese link to this album. I love this song and think it’s a side to grime artists that we don’t see enough, the more the merrier as we see more and more experimentation from this booming genre.

Overall – 8.5/10
Right up there for album of the year, heroic work from Skepta, considering he was just a lad from North London who would get into trouble and cause violence, seeming to have no direction in life. To create this is a masterstroke and quite frankly, it not only secures his place at the top of the grime scene for a very long time, it also entices and encourages others to release albums and only make the genre bigger, before eventually the end goal is achieved and it becomes accepted as a respected venture of musical direction. Only Kanye West’s album rivals this so far in 2016 which is some feat considering the huge names that have released projects already this year. It’s sure to be a grim classic and will be spoke about for years to come, congratulations Skepta, you’ve done it again.

Drake – VIEWS: Album ReVIEWS

Aubrey Drake Graham, better known as Drake, is a Canadian born rapper/singer who’s rise from Young Money Entertainment to perhaps the world’s biggest rapper is an admirable feat. 2015 was his year in the spotlight as he released two hugely successful and acclaimed mixtapes, headlined Wireless Festival, made one of the songs of the year in Hotline Bling and featured in a whole host of successful rap albums. Now, it’s his turn to release an album which will be his fourth studio album not including his mixtapes. This album has been hugely anticipated and could see his place confirmed as the biggest rapper on the planet. If this album does not succeed, however, the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and J Cole are all there to pick up the pieces and stake their claim instead. There is a lot of pressure on Drake for this album due to its massive public build up; but now that it’s finally here, has it lived up to the hype?

Keep the Family Close- 5/10
Smooth jazz sound to start the song before a soft Drake vocal in which he sings about the importance of his family while growing up in the ‘6’ of Toronto. It’s also a backhand at an ex-girlfriend as he mentions her disloyalty and how she was never there for him. The tone of the track changes ever so slightly with these heavy crashes of a drum followed by a slight pace change by Drake himself which sees him linger between singing and rapping. The way this song rhymes can grind on you occasionally as there are some very lazy rhyme structures here. The song in general just seems a bit preachy and far too long for the same old lyrics to be sung. This song was crying out for a change similar to that in the opening track of his previous album, Tuscan Leather, where we had a great balance between singing and rapping. The song ends with a cringy phone call from who we assume to be the girl Drake sings about. It just seems unnecessary. Poor start to the album and I pray it doesn’t follow suit.

9- 9/10
Much, much better this. Same familial link but this time behind a brilliant hip hop, almost space age beat in which Drake shows solid bars and speaks about his lavish lifestyle. “I turn the 6 upside down its a 9 now” shows the sheer power Drake possesses in his hometown of Toronto and how if he were to do that, people wouldn’t really be that bothered because it’s Drake. He shows this passion for his local community in this song which almost gives him that power of the people to have the freedom of the “6” so he can do as he pleases. This arrogant side of Drake is something that, when executed correctly, can sound absolutely brilliant and is the reason why he’s in the conversation for being the world’s biggest and best rapper. In this instance, it works very well and creates one of the best songs on this album and of Drake’s recent discography. For comedic effect and also the fact it’s a fantastic song, ‘9’ is getting a 9/10.

U With Me- 7.5/10
Deeper beat in this track as it fades smoothly into this from ‘9’ and with that comes a more aggressive rap in which he seems to be on the attack at a girl and his first verse is brilliant, a new sound to Drake which we haven’t heard before. The second verse goes off a bit and Drake shows off his vocal range by singing about the same things but with a softer tone in what fans of his would call a ‘Take Care’ style. The aggression spilled in this song is highlighted by the large amount of swearing before straining into a high toned rap which changes the mentality of the track in an instant. It’s a great aspect of this song which shows the variety in Drake’s ability but occasionally lacks at the crucial moment. The one minute interlude at the end seems pointless and doesn’t serve much purpose at all but the song itself is good.

Feel No Ways- 7/10
Upbeat, funky, psychedelic. The heavy snare crashes make this beat punchy and memorable and set Drake up for a potential classic here. The chorus is indecisive, it is good but seems slightly childish and simple, which can sometimes work but in this case it doesn’t do it for me. By simply repeating “on purpose” after every line he makes it easy to sing along to but it’s just a bit bland really despite the interior motive of the lyrics being very intriguing and offering much more than that. The verses are good, however and do the quite brilliant beat some justice at least. Once again finds himself in that void between rapping and singing but finding the perfect sound between the two appears to be his mission on this album. It’s an okay lyrical performance over an outstanding beat which is a shame really and it would be ranked much higher if the lyrics matched his production.

Hype – 6/10
Much harder rap and beat combination. Brilliant flow and rhyme which will silence any critics of Drake’s ability to rap with the very best. The beat is very hit and miss it depends how you interpret it really, it is of course intentionally a bit distorted and strange but does it really match with the song? I would say not and it changes too much for my liking but that’s just my opinion. “Views already a classic” shows his arrogance but in reality, it’s not a classic at all. That doesn’t stop Drake from believing that and vibing off that opinion so he will continue to be in his own bubble in that regard. Rap ability wise, this song is good but beat and production wise, it’s weak and that’s what brings the rating down.

Weston Road Flows- 7.5/10
Strong track with a good sway motion beat and harmonic backing vocal. Good verses by Drake doing what he does best, rapping over a melodic beat with some elongated tones. Raps about his rise to fame and the stage he has reached now, calling himself “the most successful rapper 35 and under” to show his awareness and arrogance regarding this bundle of riches. It’s very much a reminiscent track looking back on his time in Toronto, Weston Road we presume is an area he grew up in and where most of these lyrics are inspired by. I do like this concept of remembering his roots and it is something that Drake has continually preached throughout his career, showing his immense pride in where he came from to where he is now. It’s a good song and reminds me of the 5am in Toronto/6pm in New York style of track, something I’ve often said is Drake’s best style so if he stuck to this pattern, the whole of the album would be a classic.

Redemption- 5/10
Deep house R&B sounding beat with this heavy bass behind it. Seems a bit heart spilling and annoying to listen to as once again Drake, much like a broken record, sings about being he victim in this relationship as he treats this girl so well yet still keeps coming back to her. His lyrics in this track are very contradictory and hardly make sense as he brags about giving “your name to someone else” and implying he is moving on from her, yet spends the rest of the song milking this love story and his heartache. I really didn’t like this song or its production as it all sounded clunky and out of place, it was far too stop-start in the vocals and the beat which killed any possible momentum it could have gained. Why are the worst songs on the album the longest ones?

With You (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)- 8.5/10
Anytime Drake collaborates with PARTYNEXTDOOR it always creates this majestic fusion and a quite magnificent sound that nobody in the genre can emulate. It’s such a unique style that both of them make and it’s no different here. Like a singing version of Future, PARTYNEXTDOOR’s influence is very recognisable as his strong vocal, twinned with a funky electronic beat, creates a catchy sound that would make this track single worthy. The transitions from Drake to PARTY are fluid, natural and executed to perfection as we get the best of both but in limited chunks. Not enough of Drake on this song, however, for me to really adore this song which is unfortunate because it was one more verse from being on a ‘One Dance’ level of banger.

Faithful (feat. Pimp C and dvsn)- 6/10
The feature here seems bizarre and doesn’t match the soft calm beat at all. Not the best start to a, quite frankly, poor song. Drake sounds extra whiny on this song and is just absolutely desperate to show to the world that he has this incredible relationship with women and it’s borderline cringy. The rap/sing switch in this song is a bit all over the place and again seems slightly unnecessary, it seems more suited to one or the other. Especially with the second feature (dvsn) providing an elegant vocal performance in which he makes singing Drake’s part on this song basically laughable. If he had stuck to rapping on this song and let his feature sing, this song would have been 10x better. I really struggle to rate this song highly because of this boring, unimaginative vocal compass he shows.

Still Here- 6.5/10
Fits into this modern category of a rap banger as he spits memorable lyrics in an easy to follow flow. All of this is done on a fairly basic but effective beat and when Drake creates songs like this, he shows that mainstream commercial rap is far easier to do than some people make out. He must just be a natural in this commercial bracket and is in general a very sellable name and figure so with tracks like this his name will only increase. I’m not saying this is a classic song it’s just a 2016 banger that seems quite lazily made but is still effective and memorable. Won’t match up with other rappers’ releases but is an okay song.

Controlla- 6/10
The decision to cut Popcaan from this album without prior warning to anyone seemed a bizarre one considering his large following and ability to create a fresh sound on a song, as seen last year on Jamie xx’s chart hit I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times with his reggae hip hop style. This decision became even more bizarre when you hear the actual song, it seems tailor made for his unique voice to feature on but alas Drake made the choice to cut him from the album and as a result it has left something to be desired on the track, a spark if you will. The afrobeat used on the hook adds an extra dimension to the track which could otherwise be accused of being fairly dull with Drake not really spicing it up with variation. The song to follow, however, is the best song of all time so we will let him off.

One Dance (feat. Kyla and Wizkid)- 10/10
I often joke about this being the best song of all time, it’s that catchy. It’s without doubt the best song released in the last 18 months and has swept the nation, topping the charts in so many countries and even landing Drake his first ever UK number one single, a statistic that is sure to surprise many considering his superstar name. Drake’s quick singing vocal matches up impeccably with this truly magnificent funk beat that sounds like it’s come straight out of 1995 and fills the dance floor no matter where you are. There is not much more to say about this song other than it is a confirmation of Drake’s genius and his ability to create banging songs that will blow up the charts. I would have been more than happy to have this on loop 20 times as an album.

Grammys (feat. Future)- 8/10
The dynamic duo return once again to create a filthy underground beat which follows the suit of their joint mixtape from last year, What A Time To Be Alive. I would describe this as a typical Future beat in that it may be fairly simple in its core but does create this non stop rhythm that is impossible not to sway to. Of the two, Drake does have a more talented verse in his diversity and lyricism, but it’s hard to ignore Future’s chorus/verse which you can’t understand at all but sounds fantastic. Much like Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ you don’t have a clue what he’s saying but get excited when he says the key word. For Desiigner, it’s “Panda” and for Future here, it’s “Grammy”. He says it enough times to remember it too so you’ll hardly miss it. This is a short and snappy track which has a trap vibe and is one of the highlights of the album.

Child’s Play- 7/10
Strange conversation on the phone at the start about a girl cheating on you with a basketball player, a bit pointless really. The song itself is upbeat and confident in its approach with the repetitive clapping beat sound in the first verse which soon cuts straight into an R&B wave. The chorus of the track is great and exactly what you would want from a catchy chorus; upbeat, memorable and inventive. Towards the end the song does tail off unfortunately and if I am being honest, there is only one truly decent verse in the song followed by 90 seconds of basically an outro which is frustrating to listen to because there was so much potential in this song to be a smash hit. It just seems lazy and as though he ran out of ideas so faded the song out as early as possible.

Pop Style- 5/10
The song he released along with One Dance a couple of weeks before the album to get us all excited. His feature, The Throne duo of Jay-Z and Kanye West, were arguably the highlight of this song which wasn’t a great showing of Drake’s rap ability and seemed to waste the talent on show with all three rappers. By cutting them completely from this song and doing it himself seems almost as brainless as giving Jay-Z just two lines on the original single release. The whole song was a flop and shouldn’t have been a single, the fact he took out the only huge drawing point for this song makes it even worse unfortunately.

Too Good (feat. Rihanna)- 7/10
It hasn’t been long since Rihanna’s smash hit ‘Work’ was released with Drake featuring on it and it rekindled rumours of the two perhaps being more than friends. This song will do only add fuel to the fire of those rumours as it is a racy and passionate track not to mention how catchy it is and that it will more than likely end up being a single. The lyrics are a showing of the pair of them trying to work out their differences and trying to make each other appreciate the love they show for one another. It’s a good song but won’t have the success of Work for the simple reason that it’s nowhere near as catchy a song.

Summers Over Interlude- 6.5/10
Sounds like something straight out of an album from The Weeknd with its soulful R&B mixed with heavy instrumentation and high toned vocals. Nothing more than an interlude so can’t be deemed a classic or a highlight but it’s a lovely song with a soft tone that will put your mind at ease. It’s also been positioned well to change from Too Good to the smooth R&B beat on Fire & Desire.

Fire & Desire- 2/10
This just sounds ludicrous with that ridiculous chipmunk noise at the start of the song on top of a disjointed out of sync beat. He tries being dark and mysterious in his tone by overlapping his vocals with numerous echoes and whiny dragging on of the last words of each line. Lines which are poorly constructed and have a very poor and generally lazy rhyming structure. This song could probably bore you to death if you listened to it for long enough and it was the song I struggled with the most on this album. He’s trying to be something he isn’t here and it just hasn’t worked in the slightest. The worst song on the album and one of the worst songs he’s ever done, I’m so very disappointed. Why would a song this horrendous need an interlude before it? It’s just a build up to something truly horrendous.

Views- 8.5/10
Gone with a gospel styling for the traditional ending to this album (Hotline Bling is a bonus track but it’s too good to leave out of the list). That gospel style lasts until this crashing of noise is met with a strong unique beat in which Drake raps to his absolute pinnacle power. “My girl a spice call me David Beckham” is a personal favourite lyric of mine as he likes to show off his illustrious lifestyle and the women that have followed from this fame. I absolutely LOVE the beat on this song because it sounds like a remixed gospel with edge and attitude, it’s absolutely everything the lyrics need to be matched with. A great way to end this album and leaves you with a smile on your face considering the diabolical work before it (Fire & Desire). Once again an irritatingly long outro which begs the question as to why he chooses to make us wait that long before the next song.

Hotline Bling- 10/10
The bonus track of this album but we aren’t complaining about it’s inclusion. An absolutely fantastic song that didn’t really gain the recognition it deserved until the music video was released, in which Drake poses some rather questionable dance moves in some lit up pods. These dance moves eventually became memes and as a result, the video and song became much more popular and saw the track rise up the charts triumphantly. Despite the upbeat cool beat that is used, lyrically this song is emotionally fuelled and speaks of how he feels he is being used for one thing. He speaks down on this girl’s image by suggesting she “started wearing less and going out more” when he left. There’s not much more to say about this song that hasn’t been said already but it was the song that got people hugely excited for this album and the fact it has appeared on here is always a great sign.
Overall- 7/10
Why oh why is this 20 songs long? It’s the length of a feature length film. He could have made almost two albums out of this so it baffles me that he would choose to do it like this. I would love to give this album a comedic ‘views from the 6/10’ rating but I can’t as it is better than a 6 I must admit. It is not in the top three of the year though in my opinion and falls way short of Kanye West’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’ album, which just seemed more inventive and daring as well as having superstar talent all over it. One Dance and Hotline Bling being on this album boost the rating without a doubt because they are two absolute masterstrokes by Drake creating them. There are, however, some really awful songs to compliment these bangers, most notably Fire & Desire, which could well be the worst song he’s ever made. Having said that, on first listen I gave this album like a 3 or 4/10, I was absolutely destroyed by how poor it sounded. As I’ve listened more it grew on me and now I kind of like it. It falls short of his other albums in my opinion but it’s solid, nothing more and nothing less. Views from the 7 doesn’t have the same ring to it but that’s the rating it gets.