After almost two years of teases, Drake’s fourth official album is here at last, and it’s a monster, clocking in at 82 minutes. But what does it sound like? Who worked on it? And what, exactly, is troubling Aubrey Graham’s mind now? We break down all 20 tracks below.
1. “Keep the Family Close”
During the Beats 1 interview Drake used to introduce the album, he said that Views is “based around the change of the seasons in our city … Winter to summer and back to winter again.” Sure enough, the album begins with the words “a little chilly out there” and the sound of gusting wind (a sound that repeats through much of the first third of the album).
The mood and substance of this “Real Friends”–esque track are chilly, too, as Drake sings (on the hook), “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore.” The production, courtesy of the relatively unknown Toronto producer Maneesh (who also produced later tracks “Summers Over” and “Views”) combines orchestral soul with chipmunk soul with dark night of the soul, before closing with some ominous-sounding organs, as Drake laments, “I guess that’s what they say you need to family for/ ’Cause I can’t depend on you anymore.”
The wintry atmosphere continues. Bundled up in a steady bed of fuzzy retro synths—courtesy of producers Boi-1da and Brian Alexander Morgan—Drake muses on his relationship to his city, overwhelmed to find that with his great power comes great responsibility. While the city seems to beckon to his every call (“I turn the 6 upside-down; it’s a 9 now,” he raps, in the line that gives the song its title), he’s also surrounded by leeches (“All these handouts, man, it’s getting outta hand”). In the end, over a faint sample of the song “Dying,” from dancehall singer and previous collaborator Mavado, he concludes, “And I made a decision last night that I would die for it.”
3. “U With Me?”
This one may feature production from Kanye West, but the stars of the track are DMX and Drake’s longtime collaborator Noah “40” Shebib. Drake opens the song by announcing he’s “on some DMX shit,” and sure enough the track draws from not one but two of the Ruff Ryder’s songs. It opens with a sample of “What These Bitches Want?” and takes its title and chorus from “How’s It Goin’ Down”: “How’s it goin’ down?/ It’s on till it’s gone./ What I gots to know now is/ You with me or what?”
The lyrics include an appearance from everyone’s least favorite Drake, Petty Drake (“I group DM my exes./ I told ’em they belong to me./ That goes on for forever”), and the production sounds more 40 than Ye: minimalist and melancholy, the kind that could easily have fit on any of Drake’s previous three albums. (To be fair, those albums also owe more than a little to West’s own 808s and Heartbreak.)
4. “Feel No Ways”
Produced by Majid Jordan’s Jordan Ullman, who brought the ’80s vibe to Drake’s hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” this one draws on that same era, with an old-school drum machine beat, tinkling keys, and a sample of Malcolm McLaren’s “World’s Famous.” Drake’s part, meanwhile, is classic Moody Drake: He’s trying to reconnect with a girl after some time away, and she isn’t having it. But where before he might have moped, these days he’s more confident than ever—perhaps to a fault: He thinks she’s just playing hard to get. Before we find out who’s right, some plaintive strings wash it all away.
This one’s just flexin’: Over a beat from Boi-1da, Nineteen85, and Beat Bully, Drake brags that where other rappers hype themselves, he’s just the real thing. The result is a track that’s more dense with bars than almost any other on the album (example: “That boy light as Michael Jackson/ But off verses, he been blackin’ ”) and one that could have fit right in on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late or What a Time to Be Alive.
6. “Weston Road Flows”
As the title suggests, “Weston Road Flows” is another cut that’s dense with rhymes—Weston Road is a rougher part of Toronto where Drake spent some time growing up—but the mood here is less tough and more fun-loving and nostalgic. Over a continuous sample of Mary J. Blige’s “Mary’s Joint,” courtesy of 40, Drake stays bragging, but with a sense of humor: Addressing his competitors, he brings jokes: “I’m lookin at their first week numbers like ‘What are those!’ ” and “You platinum like rappers [or wrappers] on Hershey’s, boy—that shit is worthless.” He concludes by agreeing with fellow Toronto rapper Jelleestone, as Drake sings a bit from his “Money (Part 1)”: “Money can’t buy happiness/ But I’m happiest when I can buy what I want/ Get high when I want …”
An introspective and mostly sung slow jam (produced by 40), “Redemption” finds Drake searching for the right words to say to an ex. In the last couple minutes, though, it takes a left turn and speeds up, as Drake seems to finally finds his words and launches into rapping. Not that it’s a happy ending: “Guess I’m not in a position to deal with commitment,” Drake concludes, adding, “I’ll never be forgiven”
8. “With You”
This dancefloor-ready anthem, built up from finger snaps and 808-style handclaps (produced by Murda Beatz, the young Canadian producer known for his work for Migos), seems to mark the turn from winter to summer. The lyrics turn warmer, too, with a reference to going “M.I.A. in the M.I.A.,” and a pretty straightforward chorus about wanting to spend more time with your lover: Drake and his protégé PartyNextDoor both sing, “It’s about us right now, girl, where you goin’?”
This track, which leaked earlier in April, opens with a sample of Amber Rose talking about being “high maintenance” (taken from an Instagram video) before coming in with a verse from the late, great Pimp C (the same one that Jay Z debuted on a remix of “Tom Ford”). When Drake finally comes, it’s to talk dirty: “On my way from the studio, so get undressed/ Let’s do the things that we say on text/ I want to get straight to the climax/ Have you coming all summer like a season pass.” And before ceding to R&B duo DVSN, he makes a pledge: “I won’t have affairs, I’m yours, girl/ Faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful.”
10. “Still Here”
You could probably divide Views into two halves: songs aimed at girls who have disappointed Drake and songs aimed at boys who have done the same. This one is in the latter category, with two verses that seem to unsentimentally target a former friend or even an old OVO crew member. “You just went and turned your back, dog/ I thought we were family,” Drake sings, inhabiting a tone of voice that manages to contain hurt, contempt, and calm all at once. The melody sounds like a schoolyard taunt—it’s easy to imagine Drake saying “nyah nyah” at the end of a lot of these lines—and the slow, quizzical beat by 40 and Daxz (a young Toronto producer who also made last summer’s Meek Mill diss “Back to Back”) sounds disappointed and suspicious. The one false move here happens when Drake says, “Girls all in my bed/ and they don’t trip off first impressions,” which makes it sound like he has a small penis.
This song leaked before the release of either of the two official singles, and hearing it in the context of the album after listening to it a million times on its own serves as a good reminder—for me, at least—that the Views’ songs that are new will probably sound totally different in a few weeks, once they’ve sunk in. One big difference between this version of “Controlla” and the one we had previously is that Jamaican dancehall singer Popcaan, whose voice was all over If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, has been removed. In his place, the track samples Beenie Man (“Tear Off Mi Garment”).
12. “One Dance”
It was a relief to realize a few songs into Views that, insofar as it’s a double album, it’s not divided, as some predicted it would be, in some contrived way into “rap songs” and “pop songs.” The speculation that that’s what Drake was preparing was fueled by the simultaneous release of this pretty, melodic song and the much surlier “Pop Style” as the album’s two lead singles. The fact that he sequenced the album along a much less straightforward rubric makes the final product feel more disorienting and rich, but I can’t help but still perceive “One Dance,” with its tropically inflected, twinkling atmosphere as its stylistic heart.
The common knock on What a Time to Be Alive, the joint mixtape Drake and Future put out last summer, was that the two rappers sounded like they were being ported in from different universes. That’s true here as well: When Future comes in halfway through and delivers a verse that’s mainly about him feeling like an outsider, it’s easy to forget that Drake was just in the room. (This might be especially palpable because the hook that gives the song its name—“They gon’ think I won a Grammy”—is never uttered by Drake himself.) One intriguing moment from Drake’s verse comes when he says, in an aggrieved tone of voice, “Still mine, all mine/ co-sign, co-sign,” which sounds like it could be a defiant acknowledgment of the criticism he’s received for appropriating other artists’ styles by co-signing them.
14. “Childs Play”
Like a lot of songs on Views, “Childs Play” demonstrates in no uncertain terms that Drake is not concerned about being jumped on by bloggers for having politically incorrect feelings about women. “Don’t make me take you back to the hood,” he says at one point, which will surely strike some listeners as problematic and cause them to accuse Drake of being a bad boyfriend. But Drake, apparently, doesn’t care. He is mad that this person has ruined the Cheesecake Factory for him by fighting with him there, and once again he has no interest in holding back his pettiness.
15. “Pop Style”
The single version of this song included a verse by Kanye West and a brief appearance from Jay Z. The album version is all Drake—a fact that’s revealed as soon as you hear him say Jay’s line (“They still out to get me/ I don’t get it /I cannot be gotten—that’s a given”) at the top of the second verse. For my money the song works better without guests: Drake sounds like he’s talking to himself when he says, “I/ can’t/ trust/ no/ fuckin’/ body” and the absence of any other voices here amps up the sense that this is an inward-facing mutter rather than an attempt to intimidate anyone.
16. “Too Good”
“They decided to make a hit” is what a friend of mine said on Thursday night when the first verse of this song drew to a close. He was right—there are easily a half-dozen hooks on this song, and the vocals from both Drake and Rihanna land with a lightness that brings to mind ’90s teen pop. The cracks in Rihanna’s voice, especially, make her sound like she’s channeling Taylor Hanson on “MMMBop.” The infectious sample that comes in at the end of the song is taken from an old Popcaan track—a consolation prize, maybe, to make up for his being removed from “Controlla.”
17. “Summers Over Interlude”
A brief showcase for OVO artists Majid Jordan, who supply the vocals to this late-album palette-cleanser. Call me crazy, but this song sounds kind of like Pink Floyd at their most glamorous and dramatic and chintzy.
18. “Fire and Desire”
A big question pervading the early reception for Views is whether each of the love-related songs on it is about a different girlfriend, or if they’re all about the same one. If it’s the former, you really have to marvel at the number of very involved, emotionally turbulent relationships our man manages to get into despite his busy schedule. Lyrically, Drake is leaning into his caricature a bit here, confessing that he feels “sleepy,” and “sometimes… so indecisive” before praising the person he’s singing to as “a real-ass woman.” I’d characterize this one as another piece of evidence that Drake is not worried about creating the impression that he is a fun guy to date.
For the album closer—bonus track “Hotline Bling” doesn’t count—Drake revisits the brawny state-of-the-union flow he has previously used on statement songs like “Tuscan Leather” and “5AM in Toronto.” It’s the mode he enters when he wants to demonstrate his chops as a rapper while declaring his independence from everyone in his life who would like to think he depends on them. “I’m getting straight to the point with it,” he raps here, “Need y’all to know that I never needed none of y’all.” The problem for Drake is that, ever since his extended showdown with Meek Mill last summer, every song he writes in which he sounds angry and vengeful is going to seem like it’s about that situation. (“I never needed none of y’all,” for instance, could be a shot at the former collaborators whose contributions to If You’re Reading This earned Drake accusations of ghostwriting.) That said, chances are good that, whoever it is that Drake is mad at, listeners who are singing along to this song will just fill that mystery in by conjuring the haters in their own lives.
20. “Hotline Bling”
What really needs to be said about this one? Though the song feels unmistakably out of place on Views, it works beautifully as an encore, as well as a reminder that for all the surprising risks Drake takes with his singing voice and his flow on this album, he is also capable of delivering a classic, easy-to-love sing-along. Considering “Hotline Bling” gave Drake his biggest hit ever when it came out last summer, it’s tempting to imagine that it’s responsible for putting him on the path to Views and allowing him to hit the stride he’d been looking for since announcing the album all the way back in 2014.