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Friday, May 13, 2016

The 5 Best Songs on Drake's Views That Aren't "Hotline Bling" or "One Dance"

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 2:00 PM

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If you haven't heard already, Drake dropped a new album. The improbably long project — it has 20 tracks and clocks in at just under an hour and a half — is the Canadian rapper's fourth full-length record (because If You're Reading This It's Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive don't count as albums; they're mixtapes) and it's not his best.

Even if you're not a Drake fan, you've probably heard two of the album's singles, "Hotline Bling" and "One Dance," but those songs, it turns out, are misleading. The bulk of Views consists of slow-burning, languid jams that show off Drizzy's softer persona and tend to drawl on for a bit too long. Unlike his two 2015 mixtapes — and even 2013's Nothing Was The Same — Drake hardly raps, and you don't hear his characteristic, jubilant "Whoo!" on any of the tracks either.

This is a shame. Drake's duality as a singer and rapper is largely why he's so appealing. There's Drake The Pop Singer, Drake The Smoldering, Slow Jam Crooner, and Drake The Rapper. But rarely are we lucky enough to get all three on one album. 

In Views, Drake The Rapper hardly makes an appearance ("Grammys" and "Still Here" are the only songs in which we hear some slight rapping from the 6 God), and the bulk of it is dominated by Drake The Smoldering, Slow Jam Crooner. Of all Drake's personas, it is the Slow Jam Crooner who has showed up the least in his ouevre, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before he got his own Drizzy album. (Fairness and equality are, after all, key characteristics of Libras, one of the zodiac signs that Drake is on the cusp of.)

The album is saved from being a boring, too-long-don't-listen record by Drake The Pop Singer who shows up in a handful of songs, most notably "Hotline Bling" and "One Dance," giving Views some much needed life and energy (not to mention rhythm). 

This is not to say the album is a total flop. There are some gems on it, which is where we come in. We've done the dirty work and plucked out the five best songs that aren't "Hotline Bling" or "One Dance" (because Lord knows those are easily the best songs on the album). 

Is this a biased list? Duh. But so what? Impartiality is boring, and, as my aphorism-prone aunt always says: Opinions are like butt holes — everyone has one. 

1. "With You" featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR
Drake and fellow Canadian singer PARTYNEXTDOOR (who signed to Drizzy's OVO Sound label in July 2013) always seem to make magic happen when they collaborate. Aside from "With You," 2014's "Recognize" and 2015's "Preach" are the pair's strongest joint tracks, and it's now been three years since the two Canadians started working together. "With You" is a standout track, a perfect pairing of PARTYNEXTDOOR's unusual, off-key singing and Drizzy's buttery, smooth voice over a subtly tropical, marimba-based melody. 
2. "Too Good" featuring Rihanna
Rihanna, like PARTYNEXTDOOR, is a longtime Drake collaborator, and the pair first showed up together in "What's My Name?" a track off of Rihanna's 2010 album, Loud. This bouncy, Afro-Caribbean track is melodically in the same vein as their other recent collaborative track, "Work," and it seems to be a harbinger of the direction that both artists are tip-toeing in of late.  3. "Faithful" featuring Pimp C and dvsn
This is one of the most rap-heavy tracks on the album. UGK founder and Texan Pimp C starts the song off with a posthumous sample, but not before a clip of Amber Rose is slipped in, in which the former stripper and Kanye West's ex-girlfriend says, "I'm high-maintenance a little bit, but not in a negative way. I just like extremely expensive things." Canadian R&B duo and OVO Sound signees, dvsn, round out the song with their crooning, falsetto vocals, lending a softer side to Pimp C's harsh, gruffness. This song is a perfect example of disparate sounds working well together.  4. "Controlla"
For this song, Drake didn't have to lean on any featured guests to make a banger. This catchy, club-ready track works well with its dancehall beat and glitchy, electronic production. It's slightly reminiscent of the melody for 2011's "Take Care" featuring Rihanna, but it's a little more one-dimensional. Compared to the other songs on the album, this is one of the most radio-friendly and mainstream.  5. "Still Here" 
One of the few songs on the album to showcase Drake's rapping abilities, "Still Here" sounds like the Drake that we've come to know and expect — despite the fact that this version of Drake is largely absent from the rest of the album. While it's not the most clever lyrically, it's a Drake classic: A diss track directed at an enemy, positioning Drake as a tough guy that you don't want to be competing with. As he sings in the chorus, "Me and all my niggas doing well (doing well, dawg) / You not from the city, I can tell (I can tell, dawg) / Did it, did it, did it by myself (by myself, dawg)." Yup, you did, Drake. Thanks for reminding us — again.
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Jessie Schiewe

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