Media provided by Brando Babini ‘23
“21, CAN YOU DO SOMETHING FOR ME” is the first bar sung by the hottest product out of Young Money Records, rapper/singer Aubrey “Drake” Graham, on his new collaborative album with Atlanta MC 21 Savage.
Along with Her Loss, Drake has put out two other albums in the past year: the bloated project, Certified Lover Boy, in September 2021 and an awkward Jersey Club detour, Honestly Nevermind, in June 2022. I found that these two previous works from the Toronto creative lacked ambition and tenacity, critical factors to Drake’s upward success.
In the early 2010s, Drake was at the forefront of hip-hop and still had a fire under his stomach to be successful. However, by the end of the decade, it seemed as though Drake had completely gone off the rails, releasing meaningless songs every time a new album cycle came and went. From More Life to Scorpion, fans asked, “Where is the old Drake?” With Her Loss, the ambition Drake lost is found again, at least partially, and flashes of this album show a great return to form with the aid of 21 Savage.
The intro, Rich Flex, is a fast-paced, high-hat-filled track with a beat switch in the middle. A new menacing mentality fills both 21 and Drake’s demeanor in the song. The cut includes bars from 21 promoting a culture of violence (“I might slap a tracker on his whip and get the addy”) that he comes from, in his signature flow and adlib formula. The cutoff on his verse signifies when Drake returns from the intro to deliver a verse speaking on similar topics.
The next track, Major Distribution, is similarly rough-sounding and menacing. The vibe of the album, at least for these first couple of songs, is dark. The second track hits hard as well, with bars from both rappers about their labels and experiences with women, among other topics. And yet again, on the next track, called BS, Drake and Savage stick to this formula of fire verses over hard-hitting Tay-Keith-type snares. The beat is quite catchy, and the lyrics are pompous in their presentation; the idea is that both rappers elevate any song they feature on.
Next, BackOutsideBoyz, a Drake solo performance, is one of the more boring cuts from Her Loss. The production reminds me of a Young Thug-esque beat. Lil Yachty is featured in the adlibs, but this does not escalate the excitement of the track at all. Privileged Rappers, a nice little gem in the tracklist, adds greatly to the themes of Her Loss, including flexing and stunting. Specifically, in this song, Drake holds animosity for rappers who grew up privileged, as he supposedly had to work for his success. I find this take from the Toronto MC to be a little bit in bad taste, as he grew up a child star, but the message still comes across.
Spin Bout U is yet another one of my favorite songs on the album. The beautiful sampling of Oobie’s “Give Me Your Lovin,” a smooth and sensual R&B track adds to the narratives apparent on other songs of Her Loss – how Drake and 21 Savage believe they are better for women than other men because of their status. Still, the next track, Hours in Silence, is a regression from the amazing form that Drake has taken on this album. The six-minute snooze-fest is a track that could have ended at half its runtime and should have been left off the album.
After that minor blip in the tracklist, the next big hitter for me is Circo Loco. The Daft Punk “One More Time” sample is quite rudimentary and not creative. However, the rapid-fire hats are still hard-hitting and Drake and Savage each deliver poignant bars, such as “Shorty say she graduated she ain’t learn enough / Play your album, track one, ‘kay I heard enough.”
Travis Scott features on the next track P**** & Millions, my favorite off of Her Loss. The instrumental is beautiful in its absolute sense, the hook is enticing, and Travis Scott’s post-beat switch feature is one of his best feature verses I’ve heard. The latter half of the tracklist remains consistently flavorful with standout songs like Middle of the Ocean, your typical introspective Drake solo cut. The lyricism on this song is a peak of the album: “Feel like an AMBER alert / The way I can take her to the mall and she find Tiffany.”
21 Savage’s solo track, 3 AM on Glenwood, possesses a similarly deep feel in its lyrics: “PTSD and I mean it / […] Johnny got killed and I seen it / I can’t fight with these demons.”
Considering my bias against Drake, Her Loss came as a mild surprise. This new release sees the Canadian artist in a return to the passion that he did not have on Certified Lover Boy or Honestly Nevermind. That said, 21 Savage’s supporting role is not as grand as I thought it would have been, and I would have liked to see him take a more creative direction. Nonetheless, the collab LP is a highlight from the rolodex of 2022 albums, and a needed return to form for Drake.
If Drake had flopped again, it would have been his loss.