If you’re wondering why Drake was excluded from our Year End Review, it’s simply this: After we looked at all the categories we couldn’t make a strong case for Drake in any one. It wasn’t a debut, and it certainly wasn’t overlooked. It didn’t quite color outside the lines, nor did it eschew conventional release tactics. And yet, we were loath to name it #SimplyTheBest, either. Our quandary only proved the fact that Views is Drizzy’s most divisive project.
Numbers don’t lie — as we previously detailed, 2016 belonged to Drake. A No. 1 debut, nearly 5 billion streams on Spotify, 13 weeks atop the Billboard 200 album chart…Views shattered records, making it a commercial triumph. But did people actually like it?
BuzzFeed's review argued: "On Views, the rapper is getting older, but not necessarily better." While Complex concluded, "The man who spent the past couple of years flexing on us seems to have allowed himself a small nightcap of that very bitter pity potion with Views." Here, REVOLT tries to reconcile the project's unsatisfying success.
Danielle Cheesman, Senior Editor
I never had a problem with Sad Drake. Sure, he was pretty “woe is me” for a rich guy, but at least it felt honest. But I get it. There are only so many memes one can take before you Arthur-fist your way out of the situation. And Drake’s always felt like the nice guy who finished last—I mean, he and Rihanna have had, like, five false starts and at this point it just feels like he’s been handed more swerves than a man’s ego deserves—so I understand his desire to be all, I’ll show you!
But, at a bloated 81 minutes long, Views felt a bit self-indulgent, no? Like a self-proclaimed opus created with the intention of becoming an opus. The lengthy lyrics see-sawed between braggadocio and being bitter, and left me wondering (still, after all these years) if Drake feels energized by introspection or showmanship. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
On Views, he seemed to indulge in the spoils of success as much as he lamented them (which is the exact reason you’d consider rescinding that pity party you were planning on throwing him), but if you don’t focus on the word weight (because who needs “Chaining Tatum” anyway?), Drake’s ability to ride the hook of a hit is still unmatched. It’s as if when he stopped ruminating and let loose, he found his groove again. And I don’t care if he’s just posturing, if he’s just an impressionable mold that takes on the face of whatever the trend o' the day is, you deliver “One Dance,” “Too Good,” “Controlla,” and “With You” on one album, and I’ll be too busy wining to care (or even realize) that you can be challenging to be friends with (or, in this case, a fan of).
Driadonna Roland, Senior Editor
am was not a Drake fan. But you don’t have to be a fan to acknowledge greatness, and I firmly attest that Drizzy is the most dominant male artist of today. He and his collaborators crafted the sound of this generation; unfortunately, that sound can be summed up thusly: “I ain’t sh-t to the women in my life, but it’s not my fault; no one ever taught me.” Begging-ass Drake made solid, but somber, records. So, I gave them a pass to confirm my theory, then shoved them back in the glove compartment.
However, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late marked a departure. The light-skinned Keith Sweat turned into Champagne Papi. (I blame the beard.) Basically, The Boi turned his attention from the honeys to the haters. Since Views continued down that path, I had few complaints! Admittedly, I was ready to set my laptop on fire after his reckless slaughtering of classic DMX on “U With Me?” but the rest of the project redeemed itself. “Controlla” and its effective soca riddims was my personal song of the summer; “Child’s Play” beckoned ratchet me to bounce like woah; “Too Good” was the Rihanna collab we really needed; and “Summers Over Interlude” was so sultry I wasn’t ready for it to end.
I feel the day ones who decried Drake’s lack of lyrical (and topical) growth, but I appreciated how he explored sounds beyond his usual BPM, and balanced the sensitive with the savage.
Ralph Bristout, Senior Writer
Based off of the sheer excitement and mounting buzz, Views was supposed to find Drake chopping off heads and standing atop the rap mountain with a bloody sword in hand and sullen owl perched on his shoulder. Of course, this is said because the arrival of the project came at a such pivotal moment in the OVO star’s career. For the first time ever, his impenetrable armor had begin to dent thanks to ghostwriting accusations and calls for growth. Like the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown. And after running the game for about eight summers (since 2009’s So Far Gone), Drake was now at a point where the seams in those worn shoes were starting to split. In fact, Views became so anticipated that it caused the rapper to drop not one, but two projects (both shot up to No. 1) to make up for its delay. Historically, the weight of these expectations either crystalizes or crushes crowns. So when it arrived on the night of April 29, the hype was through the roof. But by the next day, many fans (this guy) felt like they were sold short.
Now, Views isn’t horrible. It actually fits well within The Boy’s discography. In all actuality, it’s really Drake just being Drake — creating yet another soundtrack for listeners that is filled with cold introspection, relatable self-consciousness, and, yes, some of the biggest records of the year (“One Dance,” “Too Good”. It’s another masterful release from the man who is at the center of the pop bubble, but it’s also Drake playing safe. As mentioned earlier, this was supposed to be the project that supersedes where Nothing Was the Same cemented him as this era’s hip-hop king (“Tuscan Leather,” “Pound Cake”). But instead of being focused on people’s feedback and proving them wrong, like he mentioned on “0 to 100,” with Views Drizzy reiterated: “If I haven’t passed out yet, watch me catch up now.” He jumped over Yeezy, outsold King Bey, and helped Rihanna get her biggest hit to date. If he was superstar status before, Views placed Drake in a league of his own as a walking titan.
But, as you can see, the bulk of Views’ importance to 2016 is its success. We talk more about “Controlla,” “One Dance,” “Too Good,” the album sales, and accolades than we do the actual content within the 81-minutes long release — thus the reason why I couldn’t sit with it being in the #SimplyTheBest lineup. Lemonade was significant and gave 2016 the most talked about narrative. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight cemented Travis Scott as master of vibes and gave 2016 arguably one of best cohesive rap releases in the year. A Tribe Called Quest returned in golden form on We Got It from Here, while Chance the Rapper opened up heaven’s gates with Coloring Book. Solange gave us a poignant cultural soundtrack, while Nick Jonas proved R&B is not dead. With Views, Drake just won. That’s it.