At a glance, Drake’s features on Scorpion are slim, but anything but modest. The Toronto rapper lands a posthumous collab with Michael Jackson on a hook and a timely verse from JAY-Z deep into the album’s first side.
But maybe more stunningly, Scorpion is full of Drake’s signature artist loans. As someone who’s become known for dipping into other genres and cultures — something he himself addresses on the album’s notes — Drake seamlessly works in aspects and sounds from MTV’s Unplugged sessions with clippings from New Orleans’ bounce music. While the artists listed below aren’t technical features, some of the album’s more shining moments belong to them.
Mariah Carey, “Emotionless” (sample)
Mariah Carey is the first guest to break Drake’s rapping streak on the introductory three tracks. The songstress opens “Emotionless” with a high-pitched declarative statement of “you’ve got me feeling emotions,” which Drake quickly amends into “emotionless.” The Mariah Carey sample, taken from her 1992 MTV Unplugged session, carries the song as the defining hook, giving the track a familiar Drake nod to the '90s.
Plies, “8 Out of 10” (outro)
“8 Out of 10” is two and a half minutes of Drake answering back to whomever about whatever. He takes the time to refute “deadbeat” dad rumors and brag about money and prowess in his city and worldwide. He caps off all that energy with the entire audio from Plies’ incredible “I Can’t Argue With You” rant from this fall, which is a video of Plies sitting in a car explaining how he has no time for arguing because he's “happy.” Its usage feels almost ironic because the entirety of “8 Out of 10” is Drake responding to general negativity.
Nai Palm/ Aaliyah, “Is There More” (outro)
Drake’s affinity for indie music has a quiet and steady history. He’s sampled and worked with The Kinks and Lykke Li, and now he’s linked up with Nai Palm for a second time. Hiatus Kaiyote, the female lead singer from Nai Palm, lent her voice to the stirring opening of Drake’s “Free Smoke” off last year’s More Life. Here, Drake applies her smooth vocals to Aaliyah’s classic “More Than a Woman,” making for an outro that could be its own song.
Stefflon Don & friends, “Peak” (outro)
In what almost feels like a grown-up ode to the classroom love discussions in Lauryn Hill’s iconic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, “Peak” closes with three friends candidly chatting about a growing relationship. Though notably, the first voice belongs to Stefflon Don, the British rapper probably most notable to listeners in the States from her recent induction into XXL magazine’s 2018 Freshmen Class.
Big Freedia, “Nice for What” (intro)
“Nice for What” has been an inescapable track for a minute now, garnering even more attention after its fully female star-studded video came out about a month ago. But as for the infectious opening line of “I wanna know who mothafuckin' representin' in here tonight,” that is none other than New Orleans’ bounce pioneer Big Freedia. Bounce music is a specific style of hip-hop that originated in New Orleans and has specific defining aspects, like the call-and-response and hometown shout-outs. “Nice for What” draws on certain sounds of the bounce genre, so it seems right that Drake gives some respect to one of the genre’s biggest modern names.
Nicki Minaj, “That’s How You Feel” (refrain)
Continuing the theme of female-led refrains, Nicki Minaj dominates on “That’s How You Feel.” Midway through Drake rapping about his feelings for a mystery woman, Nicki interrupts with her verse from the remix of PTAF’s “Boss Ass Bitch.” It’s a nice juxtaposition to Drake’s lusting, and a good reminder of what it takes to be a boss ass bitch.
Future, “Blue Tint”
Future’s inclusion on “Blue Tint” is the closest anything on this list comes to a collaboration. The song is littered with Future’s high-pitched singing, as he jumps from hook to refrain, joining Drake as they sing about blue diamonds and blue car tints.
City Girls, “In My Feelings” (segue)
Miami duo City Girls are on the verge of a breakthrough, and the latest Drake co-sign definitely won’t hurt the progress. After dropping their debut full-length album Period this year, the female duo wraps “In My Feelings” with lines about “kissing in a Wraith” with a tune and sing-song sound of two girls on a playground.