Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” is Another Bland Money Grab From the Rap Icon

Farooz Khan-Trunnell, Contributing Writer

Rating: 3/5 Falcons

Over the course of the 2010s, Toronto rapper and singer Aubrey Drake Graham has taken over both the hip hop and pop scenes. His catchy hooks and charismatic presence on the mic, have earned him five two-plus-times platinum albums, 54 top ten hits, and four Grammys. Unfortunately (but predictably), this incredible commercial success has not been reflected in his artistic success. Ever since his album “Views” in 2016, each new Drizzy release has felt increasingly excessive and uninspired, disappointing critics and fans alike. And yet, due to some clever marketing from the team at his OVO label, a few decent singles, and a budding conflict with Kanye West teasing a fiery return, many listeners actually had high hopes for his most recent album, “Certified Lover Boy” (CLB), released September 3rd 2021. But once again, fans were disappointed. While CLB certainly has more highlights than a record like “Scorpion”, it simply does not bring anything new to the mainstream rap conversation.

At first glance, the laughable cover art featuring 12 pregnant woman emojis and the title “Certified Lover Boy” appear as Drake finally self-satirizing his childish pop singer persona. However, parody is meant to give commentary on the tropes it mocks. At its worst, CLB just repeats these same cliches of uninspired production and cringeworthy rapping. Tracks like “Girls Want Girls”, “In The Bible”, and “F*****g Fans” showcase Graham’s strange tendency toward bland, colorless instrumentals and embarrassingly inauthentic, and sometimes creepy lyrics. These patterns even come close to ruining “Love All”, featuring rap legend Jay-Z, whose verse is the only interesting part of the track. Meanwhile, “Murder Talk” and “Fountains” sound like blatant ripoffs of their feature artists (21 Savage and Tems respectively)’s sounds (ironically, if you ask Drake, he is constantly being imitated). 

The opener “Champagne Poetry”’s haunting vocal chops and more than impressive lyricism make it arguably Drake’s best song since a track like Jungle, off his 2015 mixtape

Luckily, Lover Boy does contain some highlights, and these musical oases are the main feature stopping the album from ranking as low as projects like “More Life” or “Scorpion”. The opener “Champagne Poetry”’s haunting vocal chops and more than impressive lyricism make it arguably Drake’s best song since a track like Jungle, off his 2015 mixtape, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”. “Pipe Down”, “Race My Mind”, and “Get Along Better” feature luxurious production, and proof that Drake has some vocal talent, over the right instrumentals. Further, “You Only Live Twice” is all the competitive braggadocio one would expect from Drake and two of his most prolific friends in the industry, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. 

Overall, it is frustrating to see the bit of merit CLB has to offer get overshadowed by filler. There is potential for a respectable album hiding within the Lover Boy tracklist, but due to Drake’s unfounded desire to have all of his recent projects contain 20 plus songs, that album will never see the light of day. In the end, “Certified Lover Boy” is not as boring or derivative as it could have been, but when you peer at its lowest points, the sheer absence of creativity could not be more evident. The empty production, obnoxious length, and overall lack of effort is disappointing but expected of Drake at this point. One can only hope that his next releases will actually feel somewhat fresh. For now, average and repetitive will have to do.

This article also appears in our October 2021 print edition.