Drake, looking for an enemy other than himself

This is especially true in songs about women: the silly “Girls Want Girls” with Lil Baby, “Get Along Better” with Ty Doll Sign, the mildly serious “____ Fans.” Rather, what really gets Drake on this album are the naysayers and antagonists, especially evident in the 11th-hour rhyme about Kanye West, with whom Drake has recently — and historically, and always. For – locked in a tangle. (More about these Oedipal shenanigans later.) “Certified Lover’s Boy” will debut at No. 1 next week, replacing West’s “Donda” with the biggest opening-week numbers for any album this year. . who did just that.

Throughout his career, Drake’s agility has made him one of pop’s most consistently inventive stars, ready to absorb and reinterpret any number of regional and global genres. Sonic bright spots when he samples Houston (the Ozzy Ron C intro on “TSU” and Bun B’s “Get Throw” on “N2Deep”) and Memphis (samples Project Pat Poem on Knife Talk). “Its widely chewed flow pattern imitated by 21 Savage), both are fonts of long-lasting inspiration. And Drake sometimes calls back older versions of himself—piano at the beginning and end. motifs “remorse,” album close, nods straight “Marvins Room,” Drake’s Magnetic Toxicity Ka Ne Plus Ultra.

But “Certified Boyfriend Boy” is his least musically imaginative album, where he pushes himself the least in terms of method and pattern. Aside from the Light Afrobeats number “Fountain” with winged Nigerian singer Thames, most of the songs here account for the familiar narcotic synths and claustrophobic samples that underlie much of his music. This album may mark something like the beginning of the end of the Drake era, except that the Drake era is now only that of pop music, and his innovations, well, have become the work of everyone else.

Drake is aware of it, of course — no one performs, and performs himself with equal intensity. Some of the sharpest lines on this album are about how Drake, the entity, acts to the rest of the world. “Under a picture live some of my best quotes,” he raps “Champagne Poetry” About your Instagram caption. “I’m sorry for my absence, I know I left you with no name / I don’t know how I hope you gain your clout and raise your money,” he taunts “The sinner’s house.”

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