Review: Drake Reimagines His Sound On Surprise Album ‘Honestly, Nevermind’

The element of surprise never fails. Almost without warning, at midnight on Friday Drake published the album honestly nevermind And it became a trend right away. It had the best weekly debut on Spotify and managed to get four of its songs into the Top 10 of the most listened to songs on the music platform in the world.

However, the surprise is not just limited to a marketing strategy to draw attention to the new Canadian rapper. The necessary successor to Certified Lover Boy (2021), which was a false step in the career of the man who made the world dance with “onedance” Y “Hotline Bling”, also represents the beginning of his new musical personality.

As if it were a return to the best face of the mixtape More Life (2017) —especially in “passion fruit” Y “Madiba Riddim”—, Drake presents a dance music album with an interesting warm and minimalist approach in which Afrobeat and dancehall influences are intertwined.

The first sign of this new path is “Falling Back”, a relaxed theme that unexpectedly intertwines with “Texts Go Green”. Over a repetitive pulse of electronic drums and refreshing synth chords, Drake sings to a withering relationship. “How can you tell me to my face that ‘time heals everything’?, / So, go away and leave me alone again, / I see that we are fading”, he launches with an agonizing falsetto that recalls the best of The Weeknd in after hourss (2020).

That confessional climate is maintained for a large part of the album. “You lie to me and a part of me dies (…), / You play with my emotions”, she claims in “Liability” with the voice filtered to the maximum to generate a serious and almost robotic tone. “If I were you, I would hate myself, / You left us to be with someone else,” she laments in the aforementioned “Texts Go Green”, whose relaxed phrasing recalls, at times, the sound he built on “passion fruit” Y “Tootsie Slide”.

One of the great successes of honestly nevermind arrives with “Tie That Binds”, where an irresistible beat and the chorus –again built on a melancholy falsetto– are completed with frenetic phrasing of an acoustic guitar in the style of “Africa Bamba”, that song that Santana recorded in the mega-successful Supernatural (1999).

After having failed with the endless Certified Lover Boy —an hour and a half—, which although it accumulated hundreds of millions of reproductions on platforms had a poor reception from critics, Drake decided to reinvent himself. Y honestly nevermind It’s a good change of direction in his career. With the only two exceptions of “Sticky” and “Jimmy Cooks” —which he recorded with 21 Savage—, behind was the rap and trap that he knew how to express so well since he released his debut, Thank Me Later, in 2010. What he did want to keep is the confessional tone he had outlined in “Champagne Poetry”, “F*****g Fans” and “The Remorse”.

Nevertheless, honestly nevermind it is not an album of self-analysis like in the just mentioned songs of Certified Lover Boy; Drake’s new builds on all the feelings that go through the end of a relationship. “Our chemistry froze, we felt disconnected and exposed (…), / Tell me you’re ready to go,” he assumes in “Down Hill.”

Coinciding with the resurgence of dance music and electropop in the mainstream —Dawn FM, by The Weeknd; and some songs from A summer without you by Bad Bunny—, Drake opted for a danceable album for the summer of the northern hemisphere. The album features future hits like “Falling Back,” “Texts Go Green,” and “Down Hill,” and especially breathes new life into Drake’s work.

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Review: Drake Reimagines His Sound On Surprise Album ‘Honestly, Nevermind’

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