The clock struck midnight, and with that, 25 (not a typo) new Drake songs were available to stream. Scorpion is the massively popular rapper’s fifth studio album, but this release felt different. A feud with Pusha T had Drake on the defensive, and a month of releases from Kanye West’s GOOD Music had made some semblance of fatigue set in. So how did it all come out? After spending 89 minutes — for reference, the movie Toy Story is 81 minutes long — listening to the album, the Ringer staff offered their snap opinions on Scorpion.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Drake’s Scorpion?
Justin Sayles: Drake finally gave us a decent R&B album, but he made us sit through a boring rap one to get to it.
Matt James: There are a handful of truly memorable, inspired tracks and some clever wordplay on Scorpion, but it’s an overlong public diary entry — a worthy soundtrack for pacing around a room while endlessly scrolling through Instagram.
So, it’s kind of like Views.
Danny Heifetz: A wise man once dropped a double album but said nothing at all.
Sean Yoo: I LIKE WHEN DRAKE RAPS
DRAKE DOESN’T SING ENOUGH
DRAKE IS THE POP ARTIST
Justin Charity: Views II
Andrew Gruttadaro: The first album ever made specifically for men who spend far too much time on Instagram.
Donnie Kwak: Most rappers are either too young or too old, but Drake is solidly in his prime.
2. Pick a side (of the album), but also, express how you feel about Scorpion being 25 songs long?
Yoo: Both sides have hits and misses; if I could I would take the first eight songs on Side 1 and the last seven on Side 2. And ya know, 25 songs is cool if we have to wait two more years for the next Drake album; 25 songs is not cool if Drake has 52 albums in 52 weeks planned.
Charity: The rap side is better despite it also being sporadically embarrassing in its own right.
Heifetz: Scorpion gives me greater appreciation for Kanye’s 7–7–7–7 plan this month. Seven songs is short, but it makes it easier to listen through albums multiple times and actually digest them. This album is too long to handle right now; I’ve decided to start with A Side and ignore B Side for now (not including “March 14”).
Gruttadaro: On first listen I was going to pick A Side, then I listened again and could hardly find a song on there that I didn’t wanna skip, so: B Side wins. As for the absurd length, it’s not a Drake album if there aren’t five to six songs that obviously should’ve been cut.
James: It’s a complete toss-up for me, so I’ll pick B Side because of “Nice for What.”
I’m not surprised by the length of the album — Scorpion is Drake’s longest album, but only by a few minutes — however, I do worry that this year’s onslaught of short Kanye-produced albums might have further eaten away at his audience’s already taxed attention spans. After 41 minutes, A Side ends with “Is There More,” a question most listeners are likely to ask themselves.
3. What is the best song on the album? The worst?
Sayles: “In My Feelings” is the one that jumps out right now. Drake’s appropriation of grime and dancehall always seemed to be the result of trend-hopping — and he didn’t do much with either genre creatively (shouts to Giggs, though! )— but bounce music is working for him. With this song and “Nice for What,” he’s taken a long-overlooked regional sound, applied his template to it, and made something that feels authentic.
Gruttadaro: The best song is still “Nice for What” by a mile; the worst song is “Ratchet Happy Birthday” — holy shit is that song funny! And not in a good way! The line “I know you’re soft like buttercups / Reese’s, Reese’s, don’t be ridiculous” made me laugh so hard last night my dog woke up. She was not amused.
James: It’s been out for a while, but you cannot convince me that there is a song on this album more capable of getting a room of people moving than “Nice for What.” It’s an unquestionable banger and an anthem for modern women. Plus, this song will be a gateway to bounce music for so many listeners; kudos to Drake for steering people directly to Big Freedia. It seems he’s learned his lesson, having previously come under fire for borrowing genre-specific sounds without a nod to their origins.
I don’t think that there are any totally certifiable duds on this album, but I did actually drift off to sleep briefly while listening to “Finesse.” I mean, wow. That is some impossibly low energy and an exceptionally repetitive melody. This song might kill people who are listening while driving. Keep this track locked and loaded for when you want your guests to leave.
Yoo: “Emotionless” was the only song I replayed immediately. Whoever chopped up that Mariah Carey sample deserves all the awards. Drake also raps, “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world / I was hiding the world from my kid,” which is some heavy stuff following the aftermath of his beef with Pusha T. (I also like “Blue Tint” very much.) “Mob Ties” is the worst, only because Drake keeps saying “lovey dovey shit” in the chorus.
Charity: “Nonstop” is the best. Truly, the album’s first two songs are pretty good, and then the remaining 56,012 songs are … nothing like those first two songs. The very worst song on here is “Ratchet Happy Birthday,” which should only ever be played in a Chuck E. Cheese.
Kwak: The opening batch of songs is enough to cover any blemishes on the latter end—I’ll let you know when I get to those.
4. Is this a good enough response to Pusha T?
Gruttadaro: No! Just because he un-hid his once-hidden child does not mean we can forget how deeply Pusha buried Drake, and nothing on Scorpion directly addresses this truth, or gives us a reason to reconsider it.
Charity: The archetypal Drake fan is so congenitally and disastrously passive-aggressive that I have to imagine that Scorpion will suffice as a “response” in their judgment. Not in mine, though.
Sayles: Pusha shamed him into essentially tacking on a bonus track where he cops to being a deadbeat dad. (“I got an empty crib in my empty crib / I only met you one time, introduced you to Saint Nick.”) So, nope.
Kwak: Pusha needs Drake more than vice versa. Punching down is never a wise tactic, which Drake learned the hard way.
Heifetz: “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid” was the correct lane to pick here, but the rap beef part of this is over. I just think of him in terms of being a dad now. He raps that he needs to think about two people now, not one, and my first thought when I heard that was, “Don’t you mean three?” What about the mother of your child?!?!
Yoo: The album definitely wasn’t made with the purpose of firing back at Pusha T, and I’m not even sure he took many shots at him. Drake took a haymaker to the face and came back with a strong but nonaggressive parry.
James: Unless Pusha is hiding two children or more, I don’t think Drake could hit back with a successful counterpunch. Drake is the safest rapper to beef with because once things escalate enough and he gets his feelings hurt, the beef is over and Drake has sad songs to write.
5. After “The Story of Adidon,” hype for Scorpio dissipated until there was hardly a murmur. Has Drake redeemed himself with the release of this album?
James: Drake doesn’t need to redeem himself. Drake is a constant. He’s put out roughly three thousand albums in the past decade. He is omnipresent. He’s ingrained in American and Canadian music and culture. If you don’t like this album, there’ll be another overstuffed new Drake album seemingly instantaneously.
Sayles: Even after “Adidon,” I heard “Nice for What” blaring on the street virtually every day. I think the only people who weren’t hyped for a new Drake album were us internet dweebs.
Gruttadaro: I’m sure Twitter will be more than happy to answer this question in the affirmative. They’re all liars, though.
Kwak: It’ll rule the summer, but we all knew that already.
6. What was your favorite cameo?
Charity: DJ Paul.
Heifetz: Adonis not making a cameo was my favorite cameo.
Yoo: Does a full feature count as a cameo? I don’t care to wait for the answer, just put Ty Dolla $ign in everything.
Sayles: Ty Dolla $ign, who (1) sounds great on “After Dark” and (2) appeared on both Ye and Scorpion and somehow came out of this exhausting month looking great. (Well, mostly.)
Gruttadaro: Crazy how Ty Dolla $ign washed Michael Jackson on this album.
James: I can’t believe I heard a Michael Jackson chorus that I’ve never heard before on this Drake album. I couldn’t help but feel that the Frankensteined MJ chorus was probably much better in the song it was actually written for, but its inclusion was nonetheless an exhilarating surprise.
7. What is the Drake-iest Drake song on Scorpion?
Heifetz: The album description on Apple Music.
Charity: “I’m Upset,” the temper tantrum where his voice cracks on the hook.
Yoo: “8 out of 10” sounds like something from the Thank Me Later days.
James: “Jaded.” That’s the answer that everyone else gave, too, right?
Gruttadaro: “Jaded.” Aside from the fact it’s a patented “I’m awake at 4 a.m. and feeling sad for myself” Drake song, there’s this line: “Most of these things I don’t wanna say.” Complaining about having to say things on an album that is 25 songs long is a very Drake thing to do.
8. Which Scorpion lyric will be quoted most in Instagram captions?
Gruttadaro: “Rest in heaven, Diana.” OK, not really, but I just wanted to make sure you all notice that this line exists. (My official answer is, “Summer just started and we’re already done,” especially once Labor Day hits.)
James: “It’s your fuckin’ birthday. It’s a fuckin’ celebration.”
Charity: “I’m upset.”
Heifetz: I will be Instagramming four pictures of myself from Fourth of July weekend and the caption will be, “My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions.”
Sayles: I barfed a little at “I’m the chosen one / Flowers never pick themselves,” so probably that one.
9. Pick one song from the album and write a one-sentence video treatment.
James: In “Emotionless,” Drake sulks around a gloomy half-speed Toronto and the slowed-down music video for Mariah Carey’s “Emotions” vibrantly plays on literally every screen he encounters.
Yoo: “Blue Tint” could simply be Drake and Future dressed as members of the Blue Man Group while drippin’ in blue diamonds.
Heifetz: The music video for “Emotionless” is Drake with the emotions from Inside Out.
Gruttadaro: In “Blue Tint,” Drake reunites the cast of Ice Age: Continental Drift.
10. Rank Drake’s albums.
Sayles: We don’t need to do this again. At least it’s better than Views.
James: Take Care > Nothing Was the Same > If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late > More Life > Views > Scorpion > Thank Me Later > So Far Gone
Gruttadaro: Take Care is the best, and I forget where all the rest rank. I know for sure Scorpion is extremely in the middle.
Yoo: It’s still Take Care at no. 1 and every other album piled up in a five-car fender bender.