In Review: “Scorpion”

Once upon a time, a rapper named Drake put out several successful albums. His most recent and fifth successful album is titled Scorpion. Of course it is called Scorpion, because the rapper, born Aubrey Graham, is a Scorpio in the zodiac family and he reps this very proudly. Prior to this, Drake or Mr. Graham was a teen star on a teen drama called Degrassi, for which he gets made fun of a lot, which is why he actually abandoned his government name and started using the name Drake. Since Degrassi, Drake has become an all-around successful artist and celebrity – putting out mixtapes as well as studio albums where he raps, sings, and drops innuendos on his hip-hop peers to start beef, for which he also gets made fun of a lot.

So, who is Drake? Well, what is double-sided with a gray cover with a man in a hoodie along with his signature initials on it? Drake’s new album. And what is also double-sided with a grayish color scheme with a woman hosting along with her signature on it? This website, di-a-logue.com. So now, with these two things joining together – an album and a blog site – we have what I would like to call a collaboration between a great rapper and a review. This is a first for di-a-logue.com. This is also a first for Drake, as the rapper’s latest project is his first double-album. The project, consisting of hardnose hip-hop beats mostly produced by his longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib neatly tucked under Drake’s original lyricism and voice, makes for yet another determined project for the rapper.

In Scorpion, all features matter. The rapper yet again pays homage to being “October’s Very Own” with the title. And the gray cover is an appropriate choice for a fifth album out in the summertime for a not old, but accomplished rapper looking to not make a statement, but maybe say a few words. And the hoodie that he appears to be in is an obvious ode to the current events which have transpired over this generation of young people that he inspires. And his signature initials say this is Drake aka Aubrey Graham aka a Scorpion like nothing else. And most importantly, the double-sided aspect is sure to take music fans back to the old days of records and cassettes.

Drake effortlessly adds his commitment to the double-album phenomenon, which he revealed to us via a post on his instagram of a whiteboard with the tracklistings of A Side and B Side written on it. As if the instagram promotion behind Scorpion isn’t enough, the double-sided aspect makes you venture into split personality ideas. The album is exactly split with A Side being all rap and B Side being all R&B. Nothing says Drake or Scorpion like it. For longtime fans of the leader of today’s hip-hop and music world, Drake’s attention to his roots as a multi-talented artist who sings and raps embodies a perfect album before even listening to it track by track. Drake’s determination in the making of Scorpion is an invitation to listen, review, score, and break down. It is an invitation to make fun of him for all of the things about his persona. For being a rapper who sings. Or for being a child actor on the popular teen show Degrassi before turning into one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or for being a beef-magnet of his musical peers like Pusha-T. Or for being a human and celebrity at the same time because he is now a father to a baby boy.

It all makes sense once you jump into Scorpion, an album with an interlude for a first track that couldn’t have been more appropriate for a 90-minute studio haul. It is the track “Survival” where Drake boasts, “All of this disorder and no addressin’,” “There’s a whole lot in my possession,” and “My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions.” Indeed, Drizzy. All of this stuff in hip-hop is disorder and hardly anyone but you is speaking up. Indeed again, Drizzy. There is a whole lot in your possession. Indeed and of course, Drizzy. Yours and a lot of others Mount Rushmore’s might be you four times. In just a minute and a half track, Drake wastes no time in highlighting the quintessential features of a solid hip-hop project, including all of the recent comotion surrounding himself and a look into a bright future with solutions for all of it.

On A Side track “Emotionless,” Drake tackles being a father with the help of a sample of Mariah Carey’s classic “Emotions” ( it’s the MTV Unplugged version, too ). He raps, “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world/I was hidin’ the world from my kid.” Oh, snaps. On “8 out of 10,” he responds to Pusha-T. “As luck would have it/I’ve settled into my role as the good guy/I guess luck is on your side,” he goes. Oh snaps again, Drake. The real “oh snaps” tune is that of “I’m Upset” which has a video accompanied to it featuring the now all grown up cast of Degrassi. The song itself is a playful knock at all of what can happen between being a child star and a rap star, especially for Drake. Drake’s attitude over these matters in his best songs is determined to shape our perception.

Drake takes us track by track on Scorpion on purpose, which cleverly makes fun of its obvious length or the fact that his 31 year old rhymes are still similar to those in his 20’s on projects like Nothing Was The Same and Take Care, and perhaps, even Thank Me Later. Thankfully, Drake keeps up with the same cleverness, charm, and braggadocious swagger, if not the time. It is this kind of attentiveness which contains the secrets of his lyricism and the motivation of his beats. All at once, the double-album doesn’t seem too long or too Drake. Scorpion seems like a worthy piece of collection of songs that is entirely up to you. There are hip-hop focused tracks like “Talk Up” that take on a heavy beat with Jay-Z as a feature, and that is just one more song away from “Peak” on B Side where Drake sings, “ you gon’ make me turn up on you” to a girl after their relationship hits its, well, peak. Having two sides comes into play well here in helping us through all 25 songs.

Now, onto which side is better. Of course, the easy answer is that rap fans will take A Side and r&b fans will take B Side. But the real and true answer is that both sides are good. Admittedly, the fact that it is split up this exact way forces you to choose a side, which is the total opposite of what we should be doing with music, especially new music. We should be listening to all the songs on a new album and not skimming through it as if it were a hits collection. Luckily for Drake, he has some features and some samples to keep us entertained in the meantime.

Again, on Scorpion, all features matter. When Drake is not rapping or crooning, your hear the voices of Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, and Boyz II Men. And he keeps it clean. Michael nearly overtakes the track “Don’t Matter To Me” only as Michael Jackson would. It’s hard not to keep mentioning “Emotionless” even in this review as it is to not listen to because of the depth of creativity of having classic Mariah Carey on a track about the same subject of emotions. The same can be said for the Aaliyah and Boyz II Men tracks. Aaliyah croons her classic “More Than A Woman” at the end of a track called “Is There More.” And you can just keep listening to the Boyz II Men sample on the track “March 14,” which is the last song on B Side. Also, wonder why Aaliyah and Boyz II Men close out each side? Oh, that’s right – because it’s Boyz II Men and Aaliyah and Drake likes Boyz II Men and Aaliyah. That’s why.

Drake neatly packs all of his items with this one. Scorpion could benefit from less luck and more of the godsend blessing that it is, but it is very good like most Drake material. It is better than last year’s More Life and 2016’s Views, and remarkably comparable to the others. Because we know that Drake cares about hard beats, smooth rhymes, singing, being a superstar, beef, fatherhood, women, musical idols, his latest is a collective of all of that and more. Luck and blessings are on your side, Drake. And so is Summer. You can eat your freeze pops and blast the music all day long with this one.

 


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