Shrinking Drake's 25-Track 'Scorpion' Into a More Digestible 13-Track Album

Shrinking Drake's 25-Track 'Scorpion' Into a More Digestible 13-Track Album

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Drake is in obvious need of an editor. All three of his most recent full-lengths –2016s Views, 2017s More Life, and last weeks Scorpion —have exceeded 80 minutes in length. And while theres always a place for long, ambitious media, theres never any epic scope, focused sound, or chronological narrative to Drake's near-90-minute opuses.

And thats fine. Drizzy has made great music from day one, but more often than not, hes throwing a bunch of ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks. However, the general consensus on his last three projects is that less is sticking than usual.

Drakes never been more successful on the charts as he has been the last two years. He didnt score his first No. 1 on the Streets Talkin Hot 100 as a lead artist until 2016s One Dance, but since then, hes had two more with Gods Plan and Nice For What, topping the chart for a combined 18 weeks already in 2018.Its become practically inevitable that every new Drake album will break streaming records and achieve multi-Platinum status.

But this all might havejust as much to do with Drake's desire to pad his commercial stats as it does with his improved pop instincts. Both Views and Scorpion were eligible for Platinum status from the RIAAupon arrival thanks to the popularity of pre-release singles, which had months of streaming numbers accumulated before the full albums even hit DSPs. And thanks torules for the Streets Talkin 200 albums chart that equate 1500 streams of an album's individual track to one equivalent album unit, LPs with more tracks cast a wider net for racking up those stream totals, thus givingsets as lengthy asScorpiona leg up with their overall numbers.

Scorpion might be a little more cohesive, sonically and thematically speaking, than its immediate predecessor, More Life —which was billed as a playlist rather than an album. Its still a little jumbled though, despite being split into A and B sides that are ostensibly meant to show Drakes rap and R&B sides, respectively. We dont know what Drake originally intended Scorpion to sound like when he announced it back in April, because its fairly clear that recent events caused some updates to be made in the past few weeks:Would Drake be rapping as much about his recently revealed son if Pusha T hadnt called him out for “hiding a child” on his now-infamousThe Story of Adidon”dis track? Would he devote as much time to subliminal shots at his rivals? Who knows, but Scorpion is definitely built around those topics.

In any event, the best moments on Scorpiondon't come when his bars start sounding like tabloid fodder, but ratherwhen he seems more focused on the song than the message contained within. Drake doesnt make albums with overarching themes, but Scorpion is the closest hes ever come to that, and consequently its the best argument against 80-minute Drake albums. It would be a much easier listen were the toxic, angry Drake edited out as much as possible, and the curatorially adventurous Drake highlighted.

Heres a proposed edit of theScorpiontracklistthat does just that, while halvingthe setlength and losing its original A/B divide, for a more cohesive andeasily digested version of the unwieldy double album. (You can listen to a Spotifyplaylist of our edit at the bottom of the post.)

1 Emotionless

In the past, Drakes been fond of kicking off albums with soul-sampling, rap-heavy cuts (see: Tuscan Leather and Over My Dead Body). This one, which gratuitously lifts from an extended remix of Mariah Careys Emotions, perfectly follows in that mold. Emotionless is Drake at his absolute pettiest, opening by telling people to stop hitting him up with reactions to his album, and moving onto brutal takedowns of social media usage in verse two. That perfectly sets the stage for the rest ofScorpion.

2. Nice For What

Pre-release single Nice For What continues the soulful vibe of Emotionless, but has a more positive tone that directly counteracts the latter songs judgmental attacks on women. What could be better for Drakes public image than contrasting his misogynistic tendencies with the female empowerment he attempted in the Nice For What video? Emotionless is propulsive, but not necessarily upbeat, so this song acts as a shot in the arm.

3. In My Feelings

The two tracks on Scorpion that contain nods to New Orleans bounce music go back-to-back here, with theBig Freedia-sampling “Nice for What” being followed by “In My Feelings,” which which lifts elementsfrom late genre pioneer Magnolia Shorty, and also slices up Lil Waynes Lollipop in the choppy style favored by bounce DJs. Befitting the title, Drake is uncharacteristically nostalgic and romantic on In My Feelings, which is a nice vibe for the start of the album.

4. Elevate

Perhaps the second-most nostalgic song on the album, Elevate finds Drake reminiscing about pumping his own gas and barely being able to afford champagne. Instead of focusing negative energy on his perceived enemies, he turns his attention on his closest friends and pledges to keep on grinding.

5. Ratchet Happy Birthday

This entry could be the most divisive:Many listeners have takento social media to complain about the goofy, somewhat cheap-sounding Ratchet Happy Birthday, which really has nothing to do with the themes discussed on the rest of the album. But Drakes rarely ever this carefree anymore, and it's toughnot to do a spit-take on hearing him advise petty bullshit shouldnt excite you after spending close to an hour taking subliminal shots and justifying his relative absence in his sons life. Just forget your preconceptions and go with it.

6. After Dark

Ratchet Happy Birthday is the party, After Dark occurs when everyone else has gone home and Drake starts trying to charm the pants off the birthday girl. Luckily, hes got late R&B master Static Major and current loverboy supreme Ty Dolla $ign in tow. The Tyverse, in particular, is one of Scorpions best moments.

7. Blue Tint

If you havent noticed by now, this reorganized album also has a bit of a first half/second half divide to it, but instead of using Drakes method of vocal delivery as the variable, its his light and dark sides that are split up. Blue Tint, a Side B banger featuring additional vocals from Future, is a nice pivot point. Drake mostly just flexes on this one, but the beat hints at some darkness underneath. Whats more, Blue Tint is better than the majority of Drake and Futures 2015 collaborative album, What a Time to Be Alive.

8. Mob Ties

Then were thrown right into ice water. On paper, it seems a bit silly for Drake to call a song Mob Ties at this point in his career, but once you hit play, youre hard-pressed to deny how hard this one is. Besides, it's a perfect build up to…

9. Nonstop

The actual bangerific climax of Scorpion. Propelled by a beat from Memphis upstart Tay Keith, who Drake previously worked with on his and BlocBoy JBs Look Alive, Nonstop is a pulse-quickening, bass-heavy slab of trap. Drake albums always have a song or two that find him a little out of his depth trying to keep up with new trends, and his use of a young producer and somewhat lazy 21 Savage flows make Nonstop the chief offender on Scorpion. Still, it slaps too much to prompt overt hate.

10. Talk Up

The jurys still out on the source of the vocal sample thats deployed on the hook of Nonstop, but one things for sure: it sounds a hell of a lot like Three 6 Mafia. What better segue, then, into the track thats definitely produced by the legendary Memphis group's DJ Paul? You can find Three 6's fingerprints all over rap these days, but its less common to see such a high-profile production placement for one of their sonic architects. To top it off, another living icon, JAY-Z, gifts Drizzy a rare guest verse. Thats quite an eclectic portion of the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame on one track.

11. Jaded

Now, at long last, we get some #SadDrake. Jaded is the second of Ty Dolla $igns two features on the album, and although hes only in the background of this track, the power of his considerable vocal presence cant be ignored. While most of Drakes negativity on Scorpion is reserved for his haters and rivals, Jaded finds him back in his old wheelhouse of complaining about women. In most hands, thats a tired subject, but Drakes pretty much made a career off of it, and still somehow retains some sympathetic qualities while expounding upon his rocky love life.

12. Summer Games

Perhaps the poppiest track on Scorpion, Summer Games makes great use of chunky 80s synths, vocal chops, and bombastic drums. You can always tell when Drake devotes more attention than usual to a pop hook, as was the case on Hold On, Were Going Home, Hotline Bling, and Passionfruit, and similarly, he absolutely floats on the chorus of Summer Games. Even if the rest of Scorpion has nothing to with the vibe or themes of Summer Games — and most of it really doesnt –this songs too good to leave out.

13. Gods Plan

The first time Drake included a months-old single on an album, he threw Hotline Bling on at the very end of Views, and although it didnt necessarily seem to fit, it didnt interrupt the flow of the album either. Gods Plan is a great single, and paints Drake in much lighter tones than the rest of the album, so it seems like as good a postscript as any. At the very least, its a better concluding note than March 14th, the non-apology track Drake wrote for his son.