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October’s Very Own is arguably bigger than he’s ever been. But his music has been on a steep decline for years, with no sign of things turning around.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Drake had plenty to say. Perhaps you remember the origin story: A gangly, Canadian Degrassi star decamped to Houston in 2009, where he coated his mixtapes with an appropriated codeine spritz and banged down the doors of Trey Songz and Lil Wayne until he had a record contract to call his own.
Drake possessed the audacious belief that he could reforge the music industry in his extremely unorthodox image; he would take the stage in letterman jackets and polo shirts and write lines about loathing fame and missing his dorm room. He even posed in a jeweled Chai chain and a Toronto Blue Jays cap on the cover of Vibe.
It actually worked, against all odds. In the early 2010s, as the solipsistic millennial stereotype was just beginning to calcify, Drake ascended as our unquestioned avatar. I was a 20-year old sophomore at a gigantic state college when Take Care came out, which is to say I represented Drake’s precise target demographic. He sampled a voicemail message left by an exasperated ex-flame on “Marvins Room” and christened a generation of isolated, terminally self-conscious oversharers. Drake was sulking towards the Pantheon, and we were lucky enough to be along for the ride.
So you can probably understand my dissatisfaction last Friday, after Drake dropped his baffling seventh studio album, Honestly, Nevermind, at the stroke of midnight. The record is 14 songs and 55 minutes long, and it officially introduces the rapper’s Caligula era. Something has gone horribly wrong here. Drake has traded in the toolbox that has gotten him so far for a whispery, Ibiza-ish EDM tincture that immediately evaporates into thin air.
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