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The Most Noteworthy Moments on Drake's New Dance Music Album

The Most Noteworthy Moments on Drake's New Dance Music Album
It’s mid-June, temperatures are high, and Drake clearly wants to shake something. Honestly, Nevermind, his surprise seventh studio album, feels considerably lower stakes than 2021’s Certified Lover Boy–in part because it was announced just six hours before its release. Light on features and more musically cohesive than anything he’s put out in years, we find Drake once again diving into the worlds of Afrobeats and house music that he has in the past, but for nearly a full hour as opposed to just a couple tracks.

Despite being released alongside a cryptic, rhyming letter (“I’m not a forgiving guy even when I try / My urge for revenge wins the game against my good guy inside every single fuckin’ time”), this album feels less sonically somber than some of his other recent projects. Executive produced by Black Coffee and featuring house and electronic music producers like Gordo, Rampa, and Alex Lustig, Honestly, Nevermind feels like Drake dancing himself clean.

Still, its release comes colored by a certain amount of loss and trauma. Dedicated to “our brother V” (the late Virgil Abloh), Drake’s latest focuses not as much on empty escapism, but on recognizing the adversity and setbacks that make it necessary. He references the current legal case against Young Thug and YSL multiple times on the album, and there are plenty of wounded breakup ruminations, to boot.

Here’s what jumped out to us on a first listen to Honestly, Nevermind.

Drake just wants to dance.

Fans online have already likened Honestly, Nevermind to 2017’s More Life, Drake’s last record that drew heavily on dancehall, house, and Afrobeat music. But that record (I mean playlist) was more sonically diffuse, incorporating grime (“No Long Talk,” “KMT”) Atlanta rap (“Portland,” ) and R&B (“Teenage Fever”) in addition to the hip-swaying, head-nodding sounds of “Madiba Riddim” and “Passionfruit.”

Honestly, Nevermind basically stretches those last two tracks into an entire 50-minute LP. Though Drake has often stewed in his emotions on wax, this is his clearest entry in the crying-in-the-club canon. On “Massive” he reflects on mortality and loneliness over plunks of house piano and vocal stabs. The lustful “Calling My Name” briefly sounds like a very heterosexual response to Teyana Taylor’s ballroom homage “WTP.” Even the broody breakup songs like “Texts Go Green” and “A Keeper” come over four-on-the-floor percussion, giving the waterlogged synths some much needed structure.

With a handful of exceptions, CLB felt dour and muted, a stark contrast to its colorful and provocative cover art. The fact that he made a meaningful artistic pivot in less than a year is commendable, and while there isn’t a song here as dementedly brilliant as “Way 2 Sexy,” standouts like “Sticky” and “Massive” figure to be summer rotation staples.

Drake finally cashes in on his long-standing love for Black Coffee.

Of course, the More Life track that is, in retrospect, the biggest preview of what Drake does on his seventh album is “Get It Together.” The Jorja Smith-assisted song is essentially just a cover of South African DJ/producer Black Coffee’s seminal track “Superman,” which Drake’s long been a fan of. “Superman” was one of the first songs he opened his very first OVO Sound Radio show with way back in 2015, which he always used to show off his eclectic musical tastes. The house music Honestly, Nevermind draws inspiration from was frequently showcased in Drake’s playlists, especially Black Coffee, so it only makes sense that he’s credited as an executive producer. Additionally, Black Coffee is listed as a co-writer and co-producer on three songs, including “Currents.”

The Young Thug-YSL RICO case is clearly on Drake’s mind.

Drake has been close with Young Thug for years–they’ve released a slew of collaborative songs and toured together–so it makes sense that the massive RICO case the Atlanta rapper and his YSL collective are facing would be weighing on him.

In the video for lead single “Falling Back,” Drake even does the YSL handshake with several of his 20-plus brides, and flashes a “Free YSL” on the screen in an oozing slime font.

The specter of Thug’s incarceration looms all over Honestly, Nevermind, even though the album is geared towards the dancefloor. On “Jimmy Cooks,” Drake raps, “Hoes say I'm suave, but I can't get RICO'd,” while also offering an R.I.P. message for YSL’s Lil Keed, who passed suddenly in May. On “Sticky” he proclaims, “Free Big Slime out the cage.”

These lyrics also provide a timestamp for when Drake’s vocals were written, and indicate that a significant portion of Honestly, Nevermind came together in the last few weeks.

Drake finally cemented his bromance with Carnage on wax.

“Gordo got me on the wave,” Drake announces on “Sticky.” Casual fans would be forgiven for not knowing who Gordo is, and even OVO obsessives might not recognize the name. Gordo is the new moniker of star producer Carnage, who retired his previous alias to move into the house music world, telling Billboard he’d grown “miserable.”

Drake and Gordo have been friends for years, ribbing each other on social media, but have never worked this closely before. Gordo is credited on five of the album’s 14 songs, including highlights like the propulsive “Sticky” and the steamy “Currents,” which liberally incorporates box-spring squeaks into its percussion.

Recent Drake projects have featured production credits longer than a CVS receipt, and while there are a ton of names cited on Honestly, the consistent presence of Gordo and Black Coffee gives the record a cohesion that his releases haven’t had recently.

Album closer “Jimmy Cooks” is the one burst of rap.

Much like Kanye ended his experimental, challenging album Yeezus with the track that sounded the most like “Old Kanye,” Drake closes Honestly, Nevermind with a brief respite for the fans who just want to hear him talk shit over snarling beats. The record sees Drake rekindling his love of Memphis hip-hop that he’s shown on songs like “Knife Talk” and BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” with its Playa Fly sample and humid, hazy instrumental. Memphis native Tay Keith, whose booming beats have served as the backdrop for some great late-career Drake verses on “Nonstop” and “Never Recover,” has his prints all over the song’s distorted drums. (In his radio preview for the album, Drake reassured fans he's not done with rap by teasing an upcoming new entry in his Scary Hours series.)

“Jimmy Cooks” also features 21 Savage, the album’s lone credited guest, whose excellent verse is all mischievous taunts (“Smack the backside of his head like he Bart”) and the Atlanta MC’s patented bone-dry one-liners (“If I was Will Smith, I would've slapped him with a stick”).

For those wondering about where the title comes from, we can’t offer much clarity, but Drake did tag a James “Jimmy” Cook on Instagram following the record’s release. He’s evidently a Toronto native and someone who has been in the greater OVO universe for years now.

The “Falling Back” video is a worthy entry in the great wedding-themed music videos canon—and a spiritual sequel to “HYFR.”

From UGK’s “Int’l Players Anthem” to Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” dozens of classic music videos have used a star’s nuptials as the backdrop, with some choosing to play things straight and earnest and others going for something more surreal and satirical. Drake’s “Falling Back” is strictly in the latter category, as the Director X-helmed video sees him marrying a grand total of 23 different women.

The nine-minute clip opens with a cameo from NBA player Tristan Thompson, who’s (presumably) poking self-aware fun at his well-publicized infidelity issues as he tells Drake “You only get married once” while preparing him to walk down the aisle. One of Drake’s great early videos, “HYFR,” depicted the rapper at his bar mitzvah, and “Falling Back” feels a bit like its spiritual sequel.

Connoisseurs of ‘00s bro comedies will delight in the cameo from Dan Finnerty’s The Dan Band, whose raunchy wedding band jams were a recurring gag in Todd Phillips films like Old School and The Hangover. Here Drake enlists him to give “Best I Ever Had” the spirited Finnerty remix, turning it into a lite FM slow jam for the ages.

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