Monday, May 2, 2016

Five Favourite Tracks from Drake's 'VIEWS'

Each morning, I try to minimize the steps taken between my alarm going off and making it out the door to run - or else it's not happening. I fold my clothes at the end of my bed, put my socks in my untied shoes, hang my keys and my dog's leash at the door, etc. This past Friday, I had one crucial added step: downloading all 20 tracks off Drake's VIEWS to my phone, because I sure as hell wouldn't be listening to anything else.

Nor was the rest of the Toronto, from the sounds of it. Even at 6:30am, I heard it blaring from cars. I assumed other people jogging past me, and later in the day, in line for coffee or stepping on to the street car, were also plugged in with VIEWS. As is the case in many Torontonians, and the rest of the world, we become familiar with new Drake songs pretty quickly.

In my opinion, VIEWS isn't Drake's best album. It's too long and I'm growing a wee bit tired of the themes and corny lyricism. But that doesn't mean it doesn't sound very good. It's an easy listen; an accessible listen. And we owe that to producer/mastermind Noah '40' Shebib and his collaborators as much as we do the 6 God himself. Here are five tracks I've had on rotation all weekend, excluding the singles we've already heard and loved:

1. Weston Road Flows: "Weston Road Flows" is one of the most real, authentic pieces on this album. That old-school Mary J. Blige sample and thumping beat (hats off, 40) lay the perfect foundation for Aubrey reminiscing to his pre-Forest Hill days. As he mentions on "U With Me?," Drake "made a career off reminiscing," and this standout showcases it best.

2. Feel No Ways: I thought OVO signees Majid Jordan missed the mark with their recent debut album, but when I think back to their involvement on "Hold On, We're Going Home" and now this shimmery pop gem, I have renewed faith in their abilities. While Drake crooning about an ex-lover's slight isn't shocking, it's surprisingly welcome when stirred with some Dev Hynes-style synths and retro beats.

3. Views: The title track is one of the strongest on the whole album (as it should be). While Drake usually Dad-dances the fine line between pop and hip-hop, on "Views," he's a triumphant rapper with punchy choice words about loyalty and life in the limelight. Combined with that deep Maneesh beat, "If I was you, I wouldn't like me either" are some of my favourite album-closing words.

4. With You (feat. PartyNextDoor): When you roll with up-and-coming OVO fam like PND on trop-R&B cuts like this, who needs new friends? This album has no shortage of pretty pop singles - I mean, it's sort of a pop album - but this one takes the (cheese) cake as my summer sixteen anthem. (The hokey wordplay is rubbing off - send help.)

5. Grammys (feat. Future): I had a bit of a What a Time To Be Alive flashback with this banger, because, again, Future stole the spotlight. Neither Drake nor Future are groundbreaking lyricists - that's not why we love them so much - but Future's cadence, grimy rasp and character took this song from average to earworm.

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