Drake – Scorpion
Released: 29 June 2018
Scorpion is Drake’s best project since If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and his studio best album in 5 years.
Side A: 3.52/5
#1 Survival: 2.75/5
I’m not sure that “Survival” is a good opener for Side A. It’s slow and reflective like many Drake tracks, but also menacing in a way, and sets a somber, vengeful tone for the album. Perhaps this was Drake’s goal, considering the album is titled “Scorpion” (for it’s deceptive, striking tail I suppose). I think “8 Out of 10” would have made a great intro. Especially with the Kanye subliminal disses; Drake striking back like a Scorpion indeed.
#2 Nonstop: 2.75/5
Even at track #2 this song feels out of place. The tempo and vibe is polar opposite to the intro. There’s 21 Savage’s flow and adlibs blatantly all over this which makes it uncomfortable to listen to with a straight face. But I really like the Mack Daddy Ju “My Head Is Spinnin” sample that creates the chorus. However, not even Drake can save this ill-placed track with bars like “Yeah I’m light-skinned but I’m still a dark nigga“.
#3 Elevate: 3.75/5
Elevate saves Side A in a big way, breaking the mediocrity of the first two songs. The intro “Survival” feels bored and the sophomore track “Nonstop” feels random. “Elevate” is vintage Drake as he seamlessly swerves in and out of rapping and harmony.
#4 Emotionless: 4/5
Verse 2 might go down as one of Drake’s best verses. In verse 2, Drake addresses Pusha T’s “The Story of Adidon” diss: “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world I was hidin’ the world from my kid“. He also paints a gorgeous portrait of society in today’s social media era: “I know a girl that saves pictures from places she’s flown/ To post later and make it look like she still on the go”. Me too, Drake. Me too.
#5 God’s Plan: 3.5/5
Whose flow is this on the first 8 bars? Let me know so I can go mine their music! I love the rhyme scheme there, and the last 3-4 bars are about 1 syllable short of the others, but still flows like water. Perfect.
#6 I’m Upset: 2/5
Bad song. Contrary to popular belief, this song isn’t about Pusha T or their beef. It’s about Drake’s baby mom and child support. Look at these lyrics:
“Can’t go fifty-fifty with no ho/
Every month, I’m supposed to pay her bills/
And get her what she want/
I still got like seven years of doin’ what I want/
My dad still got child support from 1991/”
#7 8 Out of 10: 4.5/5
One of the best songs on the album. Vintage 2010 Drake vibes; another banging Boi 1da/Drake collab. 1 of my fav songs on the album and I think it should’ve been the intro.
#8 Mob Ties: 3.75/5
In this song I hear: Playboi Carti, Ty$, Young Thug, and Future influences. Some say this song references XXXtentacion’s death “Louis bags in exchange for body bags“. But I won’t go there.
A couple facepalm-worthy bars on this song: “Yes I be with Future but I like to reminisce” and of course the infamous “I am not with the RA-RA/ I am a Da-da”
#9 Can’t Take A Joke: 4/5
The flow and rhyme scheme on the 2nd verse of this song is bananas. Again, WHO’S FLOW IS THIS?
“I grew up with the Reps Up boys, we crashin’ it and splashin’ in/
And when I say they crashin’ it, I do not mean a accident/
I–I’m still in the studio at 6:45/
And my haters either on they way to work or they arrived/”
#10 Sandra’s Rose: 3.25/5
Despite the Premo spot, this isn’t one of my standout tracks off Scorpion. The production doesn’t really strike me as Premo and Drake’s delivery sounds like he’s in the clouds – wandering. It doesn’t sound like he’s rapping with conviction. It’s like he’s reading off a paper. I had this same issue with the “Do Not Disturb” outro on More Life.
#11 Talk Up ft Jay-Z: 4/5
Again – WHO’S FLOW IS THIS ON VERSE 1? I love the hook, the theme of the track, and Drake’s verses. Especially the hook. Who recorded the original reference track? I might need to mine their music!
Sidenote: I wish Hov would go harder and really dot the i’s at the end of his verses, but the fact that we’re still even getting verses of this caliber from Hov at nearly 50 years old is amazing. He’s rapping right in stride with Drake who’s 20+ years younger and still in his prime. Salute to Jay-Z, YA KNOW WHAT IM SAYIN??
#12 Is There More?: 4/5
Deeply reflective track; vintage introspective Drake over low-pass filter beats. Drake stunts a bit on this track “Even if you rounded up the numbers and rounded the troops…./ Too bad reality checks don’t cover the balances due when it’s time to recoup” but also reels it back in asking himself “Is There More To Life?” than living it up. Great closer to Side A.
Scorpion isn’t really 1 disc Rap and 1 disc R&B…there’s plenty of Rap on disc 2: March 14th, Nice For What, Blue Tint, That’s How You Feel, Final Fantasy. These are all on disc 2 and all are rap songs. However, the moods on disc 1 and disc 2 are definitely different, with Side B housing a softer vibe: more R&B sections and more references to women (Jorja, Nicki, Magnolia Shorty, City Girls, Kiki, etc).
Side B: 3.519/5
#1 Peak: 2.75/5
Another questionable intro. I would’ve preferred “Finesse” here. “Peak” is like a metronome, lulling listeners to sleep right at the beginning of Side B.
#2 Summer Games: 3/5
This seems to be the only dance/pop track on this entire 25-song album. This is very interesting considering More Life was littered with dancehall/pop-aiming singles.
#3 Jaded ft Ty$: 2.75/5
They say “Jaded” is about UK’S new 21 year old songstress, Jorja Smith. I really enjoyed her Lost & Found album that also dropped in June of this year (2018).
On my 1st listen, I couldn’t help but notice how deeply sad and DIRECT the music on Lost & Found feels. Some of the songs seem to spiral into a depressive state. I remember hearing “Teenage Fantasy” and every one of her lines hitting me right in the heart. Upon observing “Jaded“‘s connection to Jorja Smith I must ask – is Lost & Found about Drake?
Are these “Teenage Fantasy” bars about Drake?
#4 Nice For What: 4.5/5
Very, very dope song. I love the added DJ mix at the end of the song, it gives the song a new dimension. Lauryn Hill sample. Murda on the beat. Is this Scorpion‘s theme song?
#5 Finesse: 3.75/5
Heavy PARTYNEXTDOOR vibes. I feel like “Finesse” and “Peak” are two tracks trying to capture similar vibes, but “Finesse” just does it much, much better. I would’ve enjoyed this more as the intro to Side B.
#6 Ratchet Happy Birthday: 2.75/5
If anyone was going to make Hip-Hop’s 1st unofficial official birthday song since 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and 2Chainz “Birthday Song“, it was going to be Drake. However, I don’t understand this one right here. This doesn’t feel like a birthday anthem – or an anthem at all. I think I heard Drake in autotune, which is a first as far I can remember. Also, this song isn’t ratchet whatsoever…ain’t no twerk-vibes here.
Only time will tell if “Ratchet Happy Birthday“ is played at birthday parties around the world. I enjoy the drums and piano mesh in the production, though.
#7 That’s How You Feel: 3.5/5
The Nicki sample in the chorus bounces beautifully with the drums. Nice, moody track. Night-time, windows down, reflecting on a situation-type song.
#8 Blue Tint: 4.25/5
Why is “Blue Tint” smushed in the middle of disc 2? Easily one of the best songs on the album and deserves to be out in the open.
“President doin’ us in” is the most political I’ve ever heard Drake get. Ever. And even then, he’s still not even saying anything. Surface-level observation. Guess he just isn’t that type of artist.
#9 In My Feelings: 4/5
Probably the most popular song on the album, but seemed like it took a good week for it to gain traction among fans. Drake, as usual, is name-dropping real names on the hook.
This songs features a segue from the City Girls and Magnolia Shorty. “In My Feelings” is the second song to receive a female-sample + chorus/bridge combo on the album (the first being Nicki on “That’s How You Feel“)
#10 Don’t Matter to Me ft Michael Jackson: 3.25/5
Definitely a smooth track but it just doesn’t feel right with the MJ feature. I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll feel different at a later date, but for now – Meh.
#11 After Dark ft Ty$ & Static Major: 3.75/5
Heavy Ty$ vibes here. Ty$ is in great company among the features on this album: Michael Jackson (RIP), Static Major (RIP), Jay-Z, and Ty$ are the only features. Amazing company.
#12 Final Fantasy: 4/5
Drake GETS OFF on the first verse before the song segways into the R&B transition. WE NEED ANOTHER RAP VERSE!!
#13 March 14th: 3.75/5
Fitting outro and Drake’s note-on-wax to his son. Drake breaks into a sorrowful serenade in the tracks last moments, begging for guidance as he transitions “from a boy to a man” with his new son, Adonis. A very vulnerable and honest closing moment on the album. Almost makes you forget that Pusha T delivered audio-Ether in the form of “The Story of Adonis” just a month ago.
★★★1/2: 3.51/5 – Very good; a few bland songs or minor flaws throughout.
Scorpion is Drake’s best project in years.
There’s a lot on this album that I haven’t seen many people unpack. The internet seemed really quick to write this album off. It’s pretty dense with bars about Kanye, Push, Diddy, and even newcomer Jorja Smith. This is Drake’s best album in YEARS.
Scorpion isn’t without it’s flaws. There are times where I feel Drake sacrifices creativity in order to be directly personal – such as naming names of people, events, etc that are enclosed within his inner circle. When this happens, its easy to detach from Drake’s songs.
Also, Drake cannot seem to escape corny punchlines and bars (such as “I am not with the RARA, I am a Dada); it’s been one of my main criticisms on him his entire career. On “March 14th“, Drake cringingly tells his son Adonis “I got this 11 tatted for somebody, now it’s yours” (likely a reference to Jorja Smith, whose first project was titled Project 11). Extremely cringeworthy.
I also wish he’d rap with more conviction. Drake’s delivery has sounded bored and uninterested after NWTS. This certainly is not the same energy that gave us “All Me” or “Miss Me“.
Sidenote: No pop-dancehall, caribbean/UK accents, or faux grime flows on this album? THANK YOU