Drake finally grows up on his latest album, Scorpion… a little.
Over the years, the primary topics of Drake’s prolific pen have remained admirably consistent: Dramatic reproductions of his romantic relationships exaggerated for maximum pathos and his moody interpretations of the ups and downs of fame. For the past decade, that’s been enough to make him one of the most recognizable stars in hip-hop and in pop culture, despite muted grumblings from hip-hop’s growing cadre of disgruntled, underground fans online that he has been “too soft,” that he “sings too much,” that he’s disingenuous when it comes to old-fashioned hip-hop boba fides. He only raps about — or sings about — the same things over and over again, so the complaint goes, never mind that these same detractors usually hand out passes left and right to Drake’s contemporaries and forebears for doing the exact same thing.
If anything, Drake has played the traditional rapper role remarkably straight; after all, Drake’s primary influences like Jay-Z, Nas, and Kanye didn’t begin adopting “grown man rap” personas until well into their thirties. Jay’s most mature album to date, 4:44, was released well after his 47th birthday, while his first brushes with so-called “dad rap” weren’t truly incorporated into his repertoire until his 2011 joint album with Kanye, Watch The Throne, delivered a full decade after Nas needled Jay about his age during their iconic battle. That Drake is now 31 years old, only recently became a dad himself, and has only just begun to add this new dimension to his music is right in line with everything that has gone before.
Of course, on the supersized double album Scorpion, that newfound source of inspiration comes nestled within a now typical latter-day Drake album. Drake clearly heard the complaints, the album landed complete with an “editor’s note” that ran them down in detail. However, for all the moments of creative growth and the efforts to disprove or overcome each of his detractors’ critiques, Scorpion still comes with all the hallmarks that prompted them to begin with. He still milks his interior monologue with regards to women scorned for an uncomfortable portion of Scorpion’s sizable runtime, he still has an unfortunate penchant for style over substance and quantity over quality, stuffing much of the album with redundant filler. The difference is that, at long last, he’s begun to show true signs of maturity.