Best Albums of 2022 – #4
Her Loss – Drake & 21 Savage
To put it in the simplest, most rudimentary terms of my generation: this album slaps.
More than any of the other album on this list, my personal feelings on this record are most certainly influenced by the social components associated with it. This is par for the course with Drake who indisputably is one of the biggest hitmakers of our generation. If you’ve gone to any club, bar, or restaurant in the past 10 years odds are you’ve heard a Drake song. He enters the rare territory shared by Taylor Swift where love him or hate him you know him at least casually and have some opinion on his music.
That was my relationship with Drake up until Freshman year of college. I viscerally remember hearing ‘Marvin’s Room’ for the first time driving back from a successful hunt for the nearest Wawa (also my first time) in a car with one of my best friends Ryan. I had heard Drake before. I had positive opinions of Drake before, but I don’t think I quite understood his appeal until I’d listened in such a supportive environment.
With every intricate detail of 40’s one-of-a-kind production laid out before me on my car’s speakers I couldn’t help but be taken in. My feeling immediately following this listening experience can best be described in a single Seinfeld quote, “I love the Drake”. Despite the many naysayers that this semi-polarizing artist has encountered throughout his tenured career, I share very similar sentiments to Jerry when I can define him rather succinctly in saying “The Drake is good!”. After hearing this album where Drake not only puts forth some of the best bars of his career, but also continues to show his versatility as an artist alongside rising star 21 Savage, I would argue: the Drake is great.
Although the field is rather crowded, ‘Rich Flex’ may be my favorite album opener of the year. It earns this recognition not necessarily because it is my favorite song appearing in that position across my top 10 albums, but rather because it perfectly celebrates the notion of what an album is supposed to be. It’s such a theatric production, recognizing exactly what its desired audience is expecting and delivering it to such perfection that various portions of the song each individually became viral sounds on TikTok. It is a rather arduous and precise feat to simultaneously reward dedicated listeners who will enter this album eager to pick apart every bar and beat switch while also providing fan service with endless sound byte-able moments. This again speaks to the endless power to the social component of Drake’s music.
What was particularly heartwarming for me was that even the less immediately accessible tracks like ‘Hours in Silence’ were still gaining so much traction on TikTok. Not only were fans sharing their favorite lyrics but also recognizing and commending 21’s versatility as an artist as he tries his hand at some R&B-esque vocals on this track. Collab albums are such a beautiful phenomenon in the rap community for this very reason. Drake has always been an adept curator of talent allowing opportunities for up and coming talented rappers to feature on his records consistently. His most famous collaboration up until this drop had been his joint venture with Future on What a Time to Be Alive. This album was a critical catalyst for Future’s meteoric rise to fame in the rap genre. I anticipate alongside many 21 Savage fans that the Drake effect will benefit him just as strongly if not more so.
This is well deserved. Savage has been slowly accumulating acclaim and respect from his teflon strong feature game. He has the Lil Wayne reminiscent ability to simultaneously deliver melodic catchy flows containing cold as ice lines that earn him his namesake. However, it’s when 21 strips it down on ‘3AM on Glenwood’ that he truly shines. This is a typical title for a Drake album who notoriously offers his most diaristic entries on tracks simply displaying the time and place they were recorded (Ex. ‘7am on Bridle Path,’ ‘6pm in New York,’ ‘4pm in Calabasas,’ etc.). Here he graciously steps aside giving this space to 21 who absolutely capitalizes on this honor. The result: likely my favorite lyric of the year.
I’m not sure Savage has ever been this confessional sharing vulnerable stories from his troubled childhood in Atlanta’s Zone 6. He immediately establishes the unflinching nature of this track starting by lamenting the murder of his close neighborhood friend Skiney who he was able to avenge, but not able to celebrate with when winning his first Grammy. It is later when he again expresses his loyalty to those closest to him that my aforementioned favorite lyric comes when he describes speaking to his brother currently serving jail time: “Video visits, he be smilin’ on FaceTime, Passionate, I’m talkin’ with my hands, these ain’t gang signs.” It speaks to the range of emotions explored on this album that there are moments so ripe to be picked for the latest TikTok trend then moments like this that tighten a listener’s chests and if you’re anything like me, make you shed a tear.
As both the artists boldly flaunt back to back on ‘On BS’ where the title certainly holds true: “I jump on your song and make you sound like you the feature [21 Savage], I jump on your song and make a label think they need ya [Drake]”. Both artists sound at their peak throughout this record establishing themselves as a couple of the heaviest hitters in today’s competitive music ballgame. Every time Drake steps up to the plate he delivers flexes only he is capable of claiming with an effortless flow. He doesn’t sound like he’s even beginning to tire over a decade into his time as MVP. He’s certainly cheering from the dugout here as 21 hits a home run.
Woah, I get rid of all the smoke like Ozium
Shorty got that real jelly, yeah, petroleum
Niggas actin’ like my kids and they be older than him
Can’t believe they killed Skiney, I really growed up with him
I’ma leave a lot of niggas covered in roses for him
Spray the witness, I ain’t leavin’ no Jehovah for them
Won a GRAMMY and I couldn’t even show it to him
Put my face inside a line up, niggas know that I’m him
Anybody speakin’ on my brothers got stepped on
Pull up from the three like Stеphen
And the coupe bald-hеaded like the other Stephon
Put my kids in private school so they could get they prep on
Think my heart made out of Teflon
What? What? Think my heart bulletproof
You ain’t got a mask, I can show you what a hoodie do
Pull the string tight ’til your eyelids covered too
I think they on the left, roll the window, hit the lights, boom
Everybody wish they switched sides when we comin’ through
Everybody wish they was inside when we comin’ through
I pray that you ain’t on the other side when we comin’ through
PTSD and I mean it
Nigga, Johnny got killed and I seen it
I can’t fight with these demons
Top shotta, nigga, I got gunfire for these demons
Hope you know you gotta stand on all that shit you been tweetin’
Took some real niggas from me, I could kill the whole world and I still won’t be even
I be thinkin’ ’bout my brothers while I’m shoppin’ in Neiman’s
Real gangster, when I’m gone, carve my name in the cement
Watch these hoes when you rich, they play games with the semen
Trials and tribulations, I face them
Prosecutors probably wanna case him
See my opps, I jump out and chase them
I ain’t Charleston White, nigga, I’ll never Mace them
Love for all my artists, nigga, I’ll never Mase them
Shit, that’s probably why they hate him
Tryna get my brother out of jail, I’m like, “Hey, Kim”
Cut from a different cloth, he never let it break him
Look at my advance, it make me wonder, would I make them?
But I own my masters, so I can’t do shit but thank them
Video visits, he be smilin’ on FaceTime
Passionate, I’m talkin’ with my hands, these ain’t gang signs
You don’t know Larry, Tayman, or CJ, you ain’t one of mine
Braids on my neck, nigga, I ain’t got no hang time
Nigga, I ain’t got no kick-it for you
I don’t wanna make friends
I don’t wanna make amends
I’m chasin’ Ms