In case you missed it, late on Friday night, Drake put out new music! Specifically, he dropped two new songs—“God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”—and under the single title Scary Hours. Drake releasing new music is something that used to cause the internet to have a collective aneurysm as everyone rushed to listen and share our Thoughts and Opinions on the timeline, but these days, something feels a bit different about a new Drake release. Even though Drizzy is probably at his the technical best of his career as a musician, we’re not quite sure what it is that’s causing our general malaise. (Have we finally reached 6 God saturation? Has the constant need for new music and opinions fucked our ability to consume art by artists we love? Is everyone just spending too much time online?) But because this is Noisey—a publication that has always way too many thoughts about Drake—we thought we’d try a roundtable to discuss the grand question: Are these new Drake songs any good?
Eric Sundermann: My initial reaction is that this is a good song that I’ve heard Drake do about 600 different versions of.
Colin Joyce: To your point, the melody sorta dances around his hook for “Both.”
ES: Totally. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing—this is kind of a classic Drake beat with a classic Drake flow rapping about classic Drake things (paranoia about success and haters, money, etc.)—but there does seem to be an energy about it that feels a bit like he’s phoning it in. Which is odd because he stated multiple times that he was going to take some time off, yet he seems like he’s still trying to stay in the conversation. Which honestly now that I’m thinking about it seems like the most Drake move he could pull.
Leslie Horn: I am… so bored!! I want to hear something different from Drake for a change, and this is definitely not what I would have hoped for.
ES: That’s a fair point. But I will say that I feel like we’re beyond the idea that “Drake is boring” for general music fans, as it’s pretty clear at this point what kind of artist he is. His sound is so established by now that there’s a pretty hard line drawn in regards to whether or not you like his music or not.
Lawrence Burney: Part of being even a casual Drake fan is to accept the fact that a lot of the music you’re gonna hear from him will sound very similar. There’s nothing wrong with this on the surface. Any Migos project runs the risk of having songs blend into each other so seamlessly that you forget they are separate tracks. But when it comes to Drake, it’s a bit more frustrating and uninspiring because he’s shown his depth on so many occasions that when he half-asses things, it’s much easier to detect. Scary Hours feels like Drake thinks he needs to be a part of the conversation right now. But he doesn’t. At all. That was actually one of the more exciting things about More Life— that he promised to take a break. To go live life and return to us once he’d stored up enough thoughts and emotions that he couldn’t hold in anymore. Like you said Eric, these feel hollow as hell. “God’s Plan” is a bop because the energetic Drake who talks about being destined for greatness has a certain level of spirit and gumption to it.
Kristin Corry: I think we all can agree that Drake could and should take more time off, but does Drake think he can afford to do that? I think this is proof that he’s a little shook at what’s going on musically, but you don’t sharpen your skills but remaking different iterations of the same song.
ES: Yeah, exactly. This raises the question of, simply, what is the point of this song and this release? Like, why do it? I feel like unless he was coming with some undeniable fire (like another “0-100”), this was a lose-lose situation. It’s pretty clear that music fans are fairly sick of Drake’s presence these days, even though More Life was generally praised.
KC: Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, he’s just getting it out of his system before he drops another project. I’m trying not to be super critically of these two because not every loosie he releases is flames.
JW: This song sounds like the usual ‘sound of the moment’ track Drake usually employs in his loosies such as “Round of Applause” Remix or “Versace.” The only difference for me is that it seems specifically tailored to be a single to see if he still has it when it comes to club bangers and Billboard charts. In that respect, it’s fine.
Jabbari Weekes: I think it’s important to note that Drake ended a song with “Whenever, wherever, OVO will always be together like Shakira” so that says a lot about where Drake’s headspace is at. It’s like “Chaining Tatum” but he says it earnestly which suggests that Drake is still happy about life or pretending to, at least.
ES: I hear that, and I wonder how much his general happiness about life is affecting his creative output. These songs are by no means “bad”—in fact I’d argue that they’re quite good. They are sonically pleasing in the way that I always enjoy Drake’s music, but there is something that feels a bit hollow—like he’s already proven himself and he’s extremely happy with this career output, yet he feels like he needs to stay relevant so he’s attempting to recapture something that once was. It’s like he has this forced chip on his shoulder that no longer actually exists.
JW: Yeah, I think to that end the chip on his shoulder feels forced but also, maybe not? We’ve talked about this before but I think Drake has a severe fear of backing away from the spotlight. He’s echoed it in as many songs, hell, he states similar sentiments on the tracks here (“I don’t wanna die for them to miss me/Guess I see the things that they wishin' on me”). And at the core of that fear it’s that he understands that he hasn’t delivered the great or classic album that he, as well as us fans, wanted or expected by now. Couple this with the fact that his rival Kendrick Lamar, is slowly compiling one of the best hip-hop discographies in recent times and dominating the mainstream sphere that was always his terrain and you get the picture he’s very concerned. He really doesn't want to back away without something to cement his wild, near decade run.
LB: “Diplomatic Immunity” needs to go in the garbage. For one, that song does not deserve its title. For two, Tough Guy Drake should have retired a couple years ago. There are punchlines in here about broken pencils. We don’t need this. It’s weird to see someone who has the game at their fingertips fumble over themselves because they feel like they need to be present at all times when in fact, time will freeze for them whenever they come back. But what’s also weird is that not much stopped for Drake when these songs dropped. He could be feeling the pressure but that pressure has to be internal.
JW: Drake lives in introspection, so I think the pressure is definitely internal and is affecting his current output. More Life was an apology letter for Views, which, okay, fine. But at some point we need to stop with the sorries, responses to media, and get him back to forging new territories and sounds in his music.
KC: I stopped looking for bars from Drake a long time ago, so the fact that this is lukewarm isn’t surprising to me. To Jabbari’s point, early introspective Drake tapped into something that I’m wondering if he still even has the ability to tap into anymore.
ES: Is Drake getting too old? I’m scared to ask this question because he and I are the same age, but to me, so many of the issues with these songs that we’ve been discussing seem to center on the fact and idea that maybe….maybe he’s grown out of his appeal? Then again, that’s kind of a stupid thing to say considering More Life got like 784 billion streams.
LB: I don’t think he’s too old but he may have to adjust to not being thee one. Whatever project he drops next will, I assume, be the first he’s put together since being in his 30’s. That could be scary, especially considering that some of the most promising artists out right now were born in the late 90s. But Drake is one of the few artists we have right now who could go away for a minute and return to an audience eager to hear him. I just think he needs to go live some life and report back to us in a year or so.
JW: A break sounds perfect and ideal for Drake hence my frustration as to why he refuses to. Drake, I feel, still has some untapped ideas that could change the sound of rap again but dude needs to back away and recollect. And perhaps, when he returns, we’ll all be better for it.
Noisey is tweeting about Drake on Twitter.