Scorpion is colored by missed opportunities, wasted potential, and, ultimately, disappointment. Since peaking in popularity and domination in the lead-up to Views, Drake's been in search of an album that validated his ubiquity on the charts and in every millennial's heart. Views wasn't it. The energy around Scorpion, however, felt different. After some much-needed (though, notably, still not very long) time off, Drake came back in January of this year sounding revitalized, cocky, and as self-assured as ever. Even before an album was formally announced, there was an intangible aura around the project: that The Boy had heard and processed every complaint, rumor, and aggravation from 2015 onward, and he was coming to both course correct and make us look foolish for questioning him in the first place. In short, we had Drake fucked up, and he was going to make us look crazy for daring to doubt him.
We may never hear, much less know, what Scorpion sounded like before Drake played Robb Stark and walked into GOOD Music's Wyoming chalet thinking shit was sweet.That Scorpion ultimately comes up short can’t be pinned on Bully-T. “Adidon” or no “Adidon,” if the album was always going to be these 25 tracks, it was always going to land with a thud. Aubrey continues to bristle at the idea of brevity, willfully ignoring a big reason why Nothing Was the Same is consistently in contention as his best project.
Statements are best when they're concise. If you’re going to make a play for volume, the quality better validate the quantity. More Life pulled it off, with a variety of genres and styles fused together with tight sequencing and dynamic guest appearances that kept Drake on his toes skill-wise. Scorpion has none of that adventurous spirit. It pits unnecessary, middling tracks alongside solid songs that are mrely fine and wouldn't crack Drake's top 25—outside of "Nice For What" or maybe "Emotionless." He sounds stung and reeling throughout. Imagine a tighter album that held off on any revelation about—or, post-Pusha, acknowledgment of—his son until a hard-hitting conclusion. Imagine an album that confronted and reconciled taking his very first L head-on (a la Stillmatic), rather than reverting back to subliminals. There are many narratives, tones and themes Drake could've struck. If anything, Pusha only gave him more material. Instead, he chose sprawl over cohesion. Imagine if a guy who already had two streaming aces up his sleeve in "God's Plan" and "Nice" didn't feel the need to keep gaming the system.
Last year, Drake rapped, "Bury me now and I'll only get bigger," the biggest kill-me-if-you-want flex since Obi-Wan in 1977. He's right, of course. Scorpion is positioned to do astronomical numbers. But with his second album in a row (and third project overall) to arrive on the heels of much anticipation to a critical apathy that falls short of Best of the Year superlatives, Drake may have raised serious doubts that he'll ever make another true Album of the Year contender. Drizzy will always have No. 1s. His will to create a classic album, though, may be gone forever. Is there more? — Frazier Tharpe