Drake is a people-pleaser by nature, sometimes to his own detriment.
He keeps his public image polished to perfection, his loose thoughts are pruned through carefully written Instagram captions, and he has catered to the wishes of his fans on each new album. When the people wanted him to sing more, he released More Life. When the people wanted a healthy balance of bars and melodies, he tried to deliver a double-sided album with both on Scorpion. And when they wanted all of his leaks and loosies in one place, he made Dark Lane Demo Tapes.
For over half a decade now, Drake has found himself stuck in a cycle of constantly trying to make albums that appeal to both his rap fans and his pop and R&B fans. “I’m the only one who has a commitment to do two things every album,” he said during his 2020 Rap Radar interview, explaining why fans will never get a “10-song Drake classic.” “I have to give the people that like the singing enough to hold onto, and I have to give LeBron enough bars.”
Because of this, his recent projects have prioritized a wide selection of flavors, at the expense of focus and precision. Drake’s 2021 album, Certified Lover Boy, suffered because he reused his patented something-for-everyone formula and delivered microwaved bars over predictable beats. He knew the strategy would still pay healthy streaming dividends, even though it was uninventive. He wasn’t wrong, but in the case of CLB, those same stories of love, jealousy, pettiness, and distrust were getting old.
Drake’s latest studio album, Honestly, Nevermind, is his first project in years where he made something entirely for himself, instead of catering to each faction of his massive fanbase. Rather than attempt to make all of his hip-hop fans happy, he made a dance album for dimly lit clubs and dizzying lazer-light raves. He finally strayed from the formula, and focused on a singular new sound instead of trying to appeal to everyone at once.