Drake is one of the biggest artists in the world right now, so it’s no surprise that his long-awaited sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, made waves after it dropped on September 3, 2021.
Being a fan myself, it’s easy for me to simply say he is just producing banger after banger, but to present as much of an unbiased review on CLB, let’s see what feels like a hit, and what you’re better off hitting ‘skip’ on.
In the Apple Music description of his album, Drake describes it as “a combination of toxic masculinity and acceptance of truth which is inevitably heartbreaking”, in tune with his ‘lover boy’ persona.
Drake broke Apple Music’s 2021 Records for Most-Streamed Album Artist in a day with CLB.
With big-name features from the likes of Jay-Z, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, Lil Wayne and Kid Cudi, just to name a few, this piece of work clearly had potential.
Drake teased these features in the weeks leading up to the launch by putting the artists names up on billboards in their hometowns.
As you listen, I will be addressing each song as a hit or miss, and explaining the intended and deeper meanings, themes and background of the tracks. An overall summary will be provided at the end to share my final thoughts.
The opening track is not one I turn to often but through an artistic eye is quite the tone-setter for the tracks to follow.
It features a sample, much like many other songs on the album, but this one includes Michelle, by The Beatles which quite literally introduces the track.
It comes as no surprise that Drake creates some great rhymes with most referring to how good of a rapper he is in the hip hop industry, and this song was no different.
“It’s the pretty boys versus the petty boys”
As with many artists in the industry, feuds are constantly forming and Drake has one with several. Here though, he could be referring to him and Kanye with the dispute faced in who was going to drop first in 2021.
Donda, Kanye’s tenth studio album was released just five days prior to CLB’s drop, sparking controversy over who would receive the most hype.
This wasn’t a favourite of mine as there wasn’t anything special about it. With Drake, you expect some pizzazz and this track didn’t have that.
An ode to “all his sons worldwide” as he was slower to release this album after how he consecutively released full studio albums from 2015 through to 2018.
This song is another product of the bragging we love so much, flexing his superiority in the rap game and everything he’s sacrificed to get to where he is today.
The song ends with him mocking other artists that use well-known features to stay relevant by putting these notions to rest now that “Daddy’s Home”.
Girls Want Girls
This one is what the kids nowadays are calling “a banger”.
Although containing some questionable lyrics, this Lil Baby collab definitely didn’t disappoint.
Lil Baby was just getting his pay check, fully avoiding the conflict between Ye and Drake as he featured on both albums and came out unscathed.
In The Bible
Many called it “Chicago Freestyle Pt.2”, as Giveon and Drake met for the second time after their hit together on his Dark Lane Demo Tapes mix tape.
Giveon’s angelic voice embellishes any track he hops on and, as he did with Chicago Freestyle Pt.2, his feature on this song is no different.
Though this time, Lil Durk hops on the track bringing a different type of flow with his rap style, adding just the dynamic this tune needed.
Kind of disappointing, as I thought a collab with Jay-Z would have held way more promise than this.
The duo talks about all the snakes and broken relationships in the industry but how they don’t associate with it and continue focusing on only themselves.
I found it a bit boring and lacking the substance that definitely could have been there following the reputation of these two artists.
It is known that when Travis Scott and Drake join forces, it is set to be a hit.
This song was more of a familiar track, that took off as one of the standouts because it is simply a good old Drizzy tune, with the addicting beat that Drake does so well.
“I’m out here being everything they said I couldn’t be and wouldn’t be“
“I don’t hold any resentment in my heart, it’s that maturity”
Following the theme, Drake flexes on those that didn’t believe in him and as a result, begins cutting these people off allowing him to find peace.
“Imitation isn’t flattery, it’s just annoying me”
The showing off he does so well is again demonstrated after he calls out artists in the industry that may be imitating his work in one of the best lines of the song.
Definitely a tune, a great product of this album.
Way 2 Sexy
Hit, hit, hit! This one is just iconic.
Future and Young Thug join Drake in prettifying the “lover boy” image and providing a hype anthem for the boys.
One of the standouts of the whole album, I think this is quite the banger.
This one is an elegant harmonious piece of the album that just works.
OG Ron C hops on the track to shoutout to all the ladies from different places in America in the introduction of the song.
TSU falls into more of the chill category of the album, which is normally a vibe where Drake really excels in. This is something you love to see artists do, when they can alter between chill vibe-y tracks to hype party ones.
N 2 Deep
Very much a hit.
A track that just keeps on giving, the more you listen to better it gets.
As the song progresses, the song gets more and more hype and with the different bass drops marrying with the lyrics, this is definitely one of my favourites.
This was really an opportunity for Drake to incorporate his personified lover-boy image, and he most definitely took it.
The opening hears Drake singing in a monotone voice which really sets the vibe for what’s to come, I thought that worked very well.
“Same reason why I tried to show you just who I was, outside of the club, outside the things that a man like me does”
Drizzy is the ultimate playboy, and he communicates that so well that you become blindsided, find it endearing, and begin to love it.
As he says this, the song picks up a new flow and then pauses, before dropping the bass and becoming that more ‘hype’ vibe, there’s such great dynamics at play here.
The chorus is really something you can blast at a party.
Future then chimes in for a second time, though it is no surprise that he didn’t just feature once on the album.
There are levels to the song matched with clever lyrics and pauses, and different well-chosen beats. It’s a journey, but one that blesses the ears.
Miss, it’s just dull.
Drake gets “in his feelings” with this one, no pun intended. Here, he communicates his difficulty in getting over a certain someone.
We definitely gather this, at least from the lyrics.
“Writing down these feelings its been overdue
Don’t know how many pens it’s gonna take to get over you”
Reflection of his emotions and the reasons he felt led to the failure of the relationship are divulged through this track.
I don’t hate it, but I just didn’t love it. Not a song I will turn to regularly, but maybe one to have on queue when in the feels.
A depressing but beautiful interlude by Yebba herself.
Again, this is not one I play often, but I do think it adds to the album exactly what Drake wanted it to.
It breaks up the intensity of the previous cluster of party tracks and brings it back in tune with the themes of the album.
It was necessary for the sake of the album’s fluidity.
No Friends in the Industry
A classic Drake track, I say this in a good way.
Upon my first listen, this one really stood out to me because it was that panache that he creates so effortlessly. Just a really cool song, and you know that as soon as it begins playing.
His confidence, loveable arrogance, and stern lyrics meet a catchy beat to flex his riches for another time.
“I give them motivation
Rest of them is guilty by association”
These lyrics suggest the notion of showcasing the difficulty in trusting others in such an industry.
And how things get even worse when feuds are taken to social media.
I really like this song, and so did a lot of other people as the track quickly blew up on TikTok as a sound used for makeover transition videos.
It features a unique sound and flow that I am quite fond of because it really stands out in the album.
21 Savage really understood his role in it, and I would even go as far to say he was one of the best features from CLB.
The more intense side as a result of being in the rap game is brought up here seeing 21 rap about guns and allies.
“I’m mister body catcher, Slaughter Gang soul snatcher
Ain’t no regular F-150, this a f*****’ raptor”
A nice juxtaposition of ideas is presented here, with the not-so-pretty side of gang-related activity and the naming of guns meeting Drake’s pretty-boy image.
7am on Bridle Path
Drake’s rhythm and lyricism are really noticeable in this one, it’s definitely the star of the show.
Unfortunately, though, the song starts off really strong but then falls off towards the end and becomes boring to me.
That can sometimes be the challenge for songs so rich in rap lyrics, to keep the listener engaged and bopping all the way through.
I am guilty of vibing in the beginning and then hitting ‘next’ halfway through.
Race My Mind
If you can’t get someone out of your head, this is the song to turn to.
I played this non-stop when the album came out, and to this day it continues to still be a go-to from CLB.
It is one of those more emotional products from Drake and I like the chill aspect that comes with an addicting flow behind it.
An endearing three minutes of Drake pouring his heart out about missing a certain girl. I must admit, I am a sucker for the romantic side we see throughout his work.
Definitely a tune that can be related to by a lot of people. His realness and openness is showcased through the genuine sharing of emotions from his experiences.
The song looks into the observations he makes about the situations and people around him.
“If your whole heart wasn’t in it, you know a piece of it was.”
A classic case of wishful thinking, something so commonly experienced by younger people with that person that it just doesn’t work out with.
“All them other mistakes, let’s let it be what it was.”
A time in which you question the experience and yourself, trying to understand at which point it went wrong.
Still such a favourite of mine, wow.
To carry on with keeping you in the feels, we have Fountains featuring Tems, who I must say adds quite a cool element.
We see Drake shift from his rapping tone to more of a singing style.
“How do you know the way I feel? You got me losing my mind.”
“Try to suppress my emotions.“
It is a relaxed RnB tune with a hint of a fun upbeat carrying on throughout the song.
Though not a stand out for me, I still really appreciate this more mellow track.
Get Along Better
Straight up not a favourite. Miss.
I find it’s lacking the x-factor that makes me listen to a song and is just more on the boring side.
It features Ty Dolla Sign, who is overall quite a suave rapper in the music industry.
I was excited when hearing he would make an appearance but similar to Jay-Z on Love All, I think I expected more from what this duo could have produced, it was quite monotonous.
Drake sings to a past love with whom it didn’t work out, so he simply moves on with her best friend.
“Trust me this ain’t ’bout revenge.“
“Now I get along better with your friend.”
I assume this post-breakup encounter was stating something like: “there’s no hard feelings, but I’m with your friend now”?
Weird, but I respect the attempt at trying to do something different with this song.
You Only Live Twice
This song is full of perfectly curated bars.
Drake brings it back to bragging about how he stays running the rap game, even comparing himself to Michael Jackson’s success.
“Not sure if you know this but I’m actually Michael Jackson. The man I see in the mirror is actually goin’ platinum.”
Rick Ross is an excellent feature, he is iconic with the old-school rap sound he holds. Not to mention, Lil Wayne also features and didn’t disappoint with his rap verse contribution.
It is a stacked song with this trio.
I didn’t give this song too much play time, but can acknowledge talent when I hear it.
I love this song, a fave. Hit.
It starts with a sample from the late rapper Juice WRLD, who passed in 2019.
“I think that’s what life is about.”
“Truly finding yourself and then closin’ your eyes and dyin’ in your sleep.”
Kid Cudi never fails to impress with not only his own music, but whenever he jumps on someone else’s song too.
I love this collaboration. It’s a track that can be described as upbeat but soothing.
The song itself takes lots of influence from Kid Cudi and the way he produces music so it is cool to see how Drake implements this.
“You told me I was a phase, ok fine, I miss you too.”
“We should really be together more, but I’m never sure.”
A modern-day love story. The continuous limbo between sure and unsure about the “situationship” at hand.
Still on repeat for me.
Fans theorise this one is about previous love interest Rihanna, and how his player lifestyle negatively affected their relationship.
“I’m still working on me, and I’m coming back better for you.”
“Most of the time it was my selfishness and your helplessness that I took advantage of.”
“You sit in the house and I be out.“
“I should of came home, came home sooner. You’d probably still be there.”
These lyrics encapsulate just what made fans speculate the meaning behind the motive of the song.
If he had gone about things another way, it could have turned out differently.
A song I usually overlook but with its calming rhythm and catchy beat mixed with Drake’s excellent lyricism, it’s a good song if you’re feeling a romantic and rap heavy tune.
The one that wraps up the album.
This song is filled with soulful rapping and lyrics which have been crafted over the riff of a piano and hard-hitting beats.
It’s a dedicated insight into the personal thoughts of Drake, a deep and poetic reflection of his life.
“Pain is just a place that I go to get the bars from.”
“Anxiety’s a drug that I use to get the job done.”
Drake mentions the highs and lows encountered in life, and that even with the challenges and regret, life is still worth living.
He raps about his achievements, but also admits to his own mistakes.
I don’t play this one often, but as far as a closing track goes, I think Drake nailed it.
At the end of the day, Drake has a song for everybody, and it was no different for this 21-track piece of work.
I think this album underperformed compared to previous albums as it doesn’t see anything new from the Certified Lover Boy star.
But in saying that, sometimes if it isn’t broke, you don’t need to fix it. The classic flow we love so much never really gets old. I am admittedly a sucker for old-school Drake, but CLB is not a bad release whatsoever.
Although it didn’t quite hit the mark in the originality category, Drake still managed to produce some quality tunes as a result.
Rhythmically, it’s the same music we would be used to from prior releases. But in regard to the themes of the album, I believe it’s the perfect mix of a tragic romance, the player lifestyle, and the likeable confidence Drake does so well.
I rate the album a 7/10 overall. I definitely return to it on a regular basis because as mentioned, I thoroughly enjoy some of the songs and continue to be a Drizzy fan.
Let’s hope we see some new and different music dropped this year, but until then we can continue vibing to this album.