Drake fails yet another attempt at creating a masterpiece on ‘Scorpion’

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Score: 2.5/5.0

Scorpion is both Drake’s follow-up to 2017’s More Life “playlist” and his response to adversary Pusha T’s cataclysmic diss track “The Story of Adidon” — despite its weight on his career, it ultimately falls flat on its promise to deliver on its immeasurable hype.

Drake’s beef with Pusha T was the pop culture event of the summer. After Pusha T’s subliminal disses on DAYTONA closer “Infrared,” Drake bit off more than he could chew, mentioning Pusha T’s fiancee Virginia Williams in his response, “Duppy Freestyle.” Pusha T explained that his scorched-earth diss track that came four days after “Duppy Freestyle” was only so despicable because Drake mentioned Williams by name.

With a photo of Drake in blackface as its artwork, “The Story of Adidon” features Pusha T surgically taking Drake apart over the beat for “The Story of O.J.” by Drake’s streaming rival Jay-Z. Putting “ghostwriting aside,” Pusha T reveals to the public that Drake has been hiding a child.

The fourth track on Scorpion, “Emotionless,” contains Drake’s first public acknowledgement of his son Adonis with the hilariously pathetic line, “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world / I was hidin’ the world from my kid.” This empty reference is one in a large collection of half-baked bars that reflect the lack of effort put into this album. It just feels like Drake has little to discuss other than his ex-lovers and his wealth. Drake not only failed to reply to Pusha T’s decimation but also left his fans dissatisfied.

Scorpion is a double album with a rap-focused A-side and an R&B-flavored B-side. While both halves of the project contain great moments, the sum of these parts amounts to a bloated mess that sounds like what could have been a great return to form for the once well-respected rapper. Unfortunately, Drake sounds just as uninspired on this album as he did on its predecessors Views and More Life.

If you cut out the filler on this album, leaving excellent songs such as “Can’t Take A Joke” and “Jaded” on while taking duds such as “I’m Upset” and “Don’t Matter To Me” off, you might just make a great album out of Scorpion. However, Scorpion’s flaws are too blatant to overlook, despite the glimmers of hope sprinkled throughout its exhaustive 25-track, 89-minute run time.

This project’s overall disappointment is made worse by the fact that its good tracks tease a legitimate return to what made Drake the genre-defining artist he has become today. Much of Scorpion is backed by incredible beats — the Memphis influence of Tay Keith-produced “Nonstop,” the New Orleans bounce of outstanding single “Nice for What” and the fruitful DJ Premier boom-bap of the confessional “Sandra’s Rose” show that Drake can still make great music if he wants to. Since the onset of his career, Drake has had a golden ear for beats — it’s a shame that his lyrics and subject matter don’t match the first-rate production.

On “Talk Up,” Drake raps, “My money is young, my problems are old / I promise I’m bridgin’ the gap.” A glaring flaw of Scorpion is that Drake’s problems don’t feel old at all — in fact, they feel like they’re too young for a 31-year-old man like Drake to be having. An artist at the (commercial) top of his game shouldn’t be whining about getting unfollowed or blocked on social media as he does on the corny “Summer Games.” A rapper at Drake’s level shouldn’t be making songs like “Ratchet Happy Birthday” that only underscore his bitterness about an ex-lover. Who told Drake he could ad-lib gun sounds on this seemingly satirically romantic mess?

Drake almost comes off as two conflicting halves of the same rapper on both sides of this album. The first half is a braggadocious, self-realized pop star rapper who still knows how to write catchy songs with artistic merit. The latter half is a pathetic shadow of the former that seems to only exist to fatten the album up with useless songs that do nothing but result in more revenue for Drake based on streaming numbers.

Contact Justin Sidhu at [email protected].