Album Review: Drake’s Certified Lover Boy

by The Cowl Editor on September 23, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Album Review: Drake’s Certified Lover Boy

Does Popularity Equal Quality?

Talia Rueda ’23

Everyone knows Drake, and for the most part, everyone loves Drake. Of course, there is always that batch of rap lovers or R&B fiends that outwardly prefer to go against the grain—those who claim not to love Drake.

This is not uncommon in the music industry. An artist becoming mainstream is often as devastating as it can get for an OG listener, but what does this mean? Do artists like Drake that have become widely popular lose significant amounts of dedicated fans just because they have gained more of them?

It is quite a bewildering situation when a mega-famous artist is opposed just for being remarkable. In Drake’s case, for example, he is not losing popularity. In fact, the public’s ever-growing admiration for him is what causes some antagonistic opinions of him. In simple terms, fame makes him less compelling.

Still, he is never even slightly in competition with other artists for the leading spots on the Billboard Hot 100 and dominates the topics of our conversations. Basically, if there’s a conversation that is going to be had about a newly-released album, chances are it’s going to be about Drake.

He’s just universal like that.

But, with this popularity, questions emerge concerning his swift takeover of every United States chart and also of every topic of conversation. Does he reach the top because of his signature fusion of hip-hop and R&B, or simply because of his enormous popularity and reputation worldwide?

Drake’s sixth studio album was released on Sept. 3, 2021 by OVO sound and Republic Records. The album was widely embraced, but it was also met with the apprehension that comes with being launched by such an established artist. Both of these viewpoints towards Certified Lover Boy, though, can be justified after a proper listen of the album.

Fans have a genuine basis for their adoration of Drake and his new album. It’s everything they love about him, and it’s clear that Drake still reigns as the ideal medium of the past and present of both R&B and hip hop. “Fair Trade” is a significant example of this blend, as a Charlotte Day Wilson sample in the intro holds a nostalgic place for Drake listeners. Wilson perfectly captures various aspects of R&B when she sings behind the beat.

Notably, such usage of female R&B samples is prominent in Drake’s discography, such as Jhene Aiko in “From Time” and Jorja Smith in “Get It Together.” Regarding Drake’s admirable mixture of this R&B sound with hip-hop in “Fair Trade,” Travis Scott’s feature illustrates the latter genre’s synthetic ideals.

Now, these characteristics are what Drake is known and cherished for, so when do they become labored and monotonous? Those at odds with Drake’s same old sad-boy sounds and typical journey of love through fame seem to be allowed some sort of grounds.

For starters, the first thing listeners hear on the album is a common sample that has gone viral from Masego’s “Navajo,” which is a pitched version of The Beatles’ “Michelle.” This is surprising to listeners, as Drake’s samples are often a breath of fresh air and have become a distinguishable component of his projects. Drake is also known for his worthwhile lyrics, and some could claim that many of those on Certified Lover Boy are senseless. In “Way 2 Sexy,” for instance, Future mumbles that drugs are the reason for his sex appeal, and in “Girls Want Girls” he infamously says, “Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too.”

Thus, many may argue that Drake’s newest music seems strained due to the absence of meaningful lyrics and repeatable samples. Additionally, some may allege that he is only at the top due to his strong popularity rather than the actual quality of his latest album.

However, how come the reason for his success can’t be both?

Most fans expect an up-to-date sound from Drake with every album he releases, yet some are relentless when they don’t hear the same seriousness that came from Nothing Was The Same, or the “old Drake.” Some listeners appreciate the less-weighty version of him, while many seek the same heartbreak heard at the beginning of his career.

Both versions of the artist deserve the respect that they get.

While it seems that Drake cannot please us all, the charts suggest otherwise and indicate that there is something in his extensive discography for everyone.