When the news that Drake's Scorpion was going to be a double album on the Internet this week, quickly followed a tantalizing rumor – one of the two LPs would be rap, while the other would be complete R & B. Drake to a star by mixing these forms; now he would devote himself to each one individually.
That was not a completely crazy idea: Drake would come under pressure after he had become bloody with Pusha-T in a rap scrap, returning to his comfort zone. There was also a good deal of wishful thinking from fans with good memories of Drake's early years when he introduced a paradigm shift in R & B. From his major-label debut in 2009, to So Far Gone -EP, to 2011 Take Care Drake worked hard in the genre, but in the years since he released much of his Attention Turned elsewhere (19659003) Like many of the rumors that swirled before the release of Scorpion Drake's R & B album turned out largely as a myth. However, on the second volume of Scorpion there are seven songlast tracks, many of which blur into a crawling stew of romantic torment and missed opportunity; It's the most R & B that Drake has personally delivered for years. This feels right because R & B is more important now than at any other time in Drake's career. He re-enters a genre he has almost overworked with one hand and, commercially, helped revive him.
When Drake began making regular hits in 2009, R & B struggled for attention in the mainstream; The dollars were all in the top 40 pops and to a lesser extent in hip-hop. To get through during this time, R & B titans like Usher and Ne-Yo were forced to appear on deafening EDM records. "It was a point where people said R & B was dead," says singer Ro James Rolling Stone . "But Drake has shown a different perspective."
He dives back into a genre he has almost overworked and, commercially speaking, revived.
On Drake's singing records in those early years, some of his decisions had a clear line: Noah "40" Shebib, his producer, is a tank fan on the record and one can sing in the beats of "Successful", "Fireworks" and "Marvin's" echoes of Tank's "Coldest Winter" hear room. "But Drake has redefined R & B singing at a surprising speed." He made it acceptable to be easy again, "says Tiffany Fred, a Grammy-winning songwriter who has also released an entire EP of Drake Covern, "He made a rappers train of thought sound and proved that you do not need all the theatricality," adds Brian Warfield, one half of the writing production team. Duos Fisticuffs (Jazmine Sullivan, Miguel).
For decades, R & B has been synonymous with singers who have performed virtuoso runs and slather tracks with gripping ad-libs. "Before [Drake] if you hook in a R & B song would record If you stack it four times, you have background vocals, "Warfield explains. "In Harmonies and Ad-Libs, you let your muscles flex, your voice and your hearing."
Drake did away with much of this tradition or imported it – through samples of nineties such as Jon B or features with rising stars like the Weeknd. The primary vocal lines remained accessible. "Drake does not do vocal acrobatics most of the time," says Fred.
This democratized a genre once known for exploits. "Drake sets his octave lower, so it's less extravagant," says songwriter August Rigo (Kehlani, SWV). "And because it's close to speaking in an octave, anyone who can not sing will sing a Drake song, his sing ability is a ten."
"He made his own track and the person I would compare in this regard is he Lionel Richie"
Drake also inverted the structural expectations for R & B songs. He loves Jodeci and tries it, but a Drake ballad never breaks out like a Jodeci ballad. He sings in long, tangible lines and cuddles against notes instead of attacking and beautifying them. His songform fits in with this vocal approach – even in "Passionfruit", an undeniable hit, there is no cathartic release during the hook. "Normally, songs build up from the verses and the chorus explodes," says Rigo. "In Drake songs, the chorus will come in and everything will fail – it's kind of backwards." R & B singers are often known to jump up the scale; Drake will probably modulate down as well.
Drake's innovations worked like crazy. "He has made his own trail, and the person I would like to compare him with is Lionel Richie," says Mark Batson (Beyoncé, Anthony Hamilton). "When all the hard radio music was done, Richie created this smooth lane and wrote great songs." (Drake made Richie even better because he was on the other side and at the same time made the modern equivalent of hard funk – hip – hop.) The purest example of the Drake R & B sound remains "Marvin's Room" of 2011, certainly one The single is magnetic, just because Drake's puddle of jealousy never musically overcooks – there is no dissolution in this R & B, no satisfyingly frightening explosion, just stasis.
A Whole A class of young singers took this style as gospel – here were tools they could use to survive in a hip-hop-driven world. You'll hear echoes of Drake in Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez, Tinashe and Jhene Aiko, Post Malone and Kehlani, A. Chal and 6lack, Majid Jordan and PARTYNEXTDOOR, Roy Woods and DVSN (the last four are all signed with Drake's OVO label) , For years it was impossible to turn on the radio without listening to a Drake student. The thrill of the original was that even R & B veterans like Alicia Keys and Beyonce, who specialize in old-school voice recordings, took their energy on tracks that Drake wrote ("Unthinkable (I'm ready)" and " My").
With all these artists pushing Drake's sound, it was easy for him to indulge in other interests. After Take Care when Drake sang and swung for the charts, he began jetting into new genres, including Jamaican Dancehall, Nigerian Afrobeats and South African House. He allowed other artists to record the lead vocals on entire tracks – letting PARTYNEXTDOOR moan and groan over "Wednesday Night Interlude" and gave Samha the microphone on the plaintive "4422". And though Drake had so much success raising melody, he worked hard to hone a torturous, contentious rap style that earned him "Worst Behavior" If you read that, it's too late, by What a time to live to "Free smoke" and "Do not talk long."
For much of Scorpion especially the first half, this maintains Drake's mode: head down, fists up. But the second part of the new album is a welcome change. The transformation is hinted at by Nai Palm's latest installment, Side One, by Hiatus Kaiyote, who blends in with herself during an impressive section of an Aaliyah cover. When Drake returns on page two, he stumbles around in a familiar R & B-induced drowsiness. "Peak", "Jaded" and "Finesse" are wonderfully lackluster – no one could deliver the line "honest, I can not stand you" with less bite than Drake. These could all be a long distance, elegantly emptied and eminently singable. There is more buzz in "Summer Games", "Ratchet Happy Birthday", "Do not Matter to Me" and "After Dark", but you know these partly dedicated melodic patterns and nonchalant croon – you've almost heard them a decade ago.
For Drake, this part of Scorpion is both a welcome return to form and moment of dissonance. As R & B struggled, he helped clear the way. But now he offers a surprisingly rigid vision of R & B – especially at a time, perhaps the first in a decade, when his influence on the genre is weakening. Several young singers in the charts, including Daniel Caesar, Ella Mai and Jacquees, owe little to Drake's sound. And by far the most successful R & B act of the last three months was Ty Dolla $ ign, who loves the kind of vocal drama Drake exiled: it's better for Ty, the more complex harmonies and melismatic acrobatics.
When Ty appears twice in the latter half of Scorpion it feels startling and significant, an alien invasion in the Drake Land. He's in "Jaded", somewhere behind Drake, like a R & B feeling translator. And on "After Dark," Ty comes to the fore, pleading and ad libht through a whole verse without restriction. After relying on Drake's plans for years, R & B moves to new models. But these two songs suggest that Drake could think about moving with it.