Drake is an artist that has spent nearly a decade churning out chart-topping hits. Like many dominant artists, he has cultivated a winning style that has maximized mainstream success. Given his consistent mainstream appeal, we expected Scorpion to be a fair continuation. I dove into the 25-song project anticipating a solid collection of bangers featuring high level production & mild creative tweaks.
But, I didn’t get it. Probably the most glaring disappointment is the lackluster production. Despite having a near limitless budget, both sides A & B sound near poverty-stricken. With the exception of a few tracks, the tape offers bare-boned beats and dry instrumentals with little switch-up or creative upside.
This flaw hits the tape hard largely because his tapes are dependent on featuring some club/house party-friendly bangers. Solid production has been a Drake staple so it is appalling how seemingly little effort was exerted. While the album as a whole was weak, there were a few standouts which at least took some creative liberties. “Summer Games” comes to mind as it uses a distorted synth rhythm layered behind bouncy percussion; however, it still leaves a bit more to be desired. “Nice For What,” a single released well before the album debut, seems to be the most intricately constructed track, featuring layered vocals, fast-paced beats, and much needed chops/switch-ups.
Even with the unadventurous instrumentals, Scorpion could have avoided sounding so lazy with only modest improvements to the lyrics. Granted, Drake isn’t a Kendrick or Nas type who are known for their deep narratives and skilled lyricism. However, Drake has demonstrated in the past that he has bars and some of his best works show this. So it’s fair to not expect a profound message or complex rhyme schemes.
The two songs that excel in exploring somewhat stronger lyricism and storytelling are “Sandra’s Rose” and “Jaded.” However, it is fair to anticipate candid energy and memorable flows which is where Drake disappointed. He seems to play around with a cold, nonchalant, monotone flow that aims to be cool but falls short sounding disinterested. Hell, there are points where it gets so nonchalant it almost sounds like he is chatting in a podcast. Even more frustrating are the flashes where he plays with the idea of using more energy but seemingly does it ironically (see. “Ratchet Happy Birthday”) or over the driest beat of the album (see. “Can’t Take a Joke”).
As someone who really awaits huge album rollouts such as Drake’s, I really wanted to like this album on first listen. However, Scorpion instead disappointed as a lukewarm, lethargic, twenty-five track tape that was a borderline exhausting listen.
Recommended Songs: Can’t Take a Joke, Non Stop, Nice for What, In My Feelings.