/ 19 August 2022

One Album, Two Takes: ‘Honestly, Nevermind’


Drake has always pushed himself as the poster child for navel-gazing. From day one, he’s been unapologetically relentless in his sense of relationship victimhood. Despite its predictability, this path has been consistently fruitful, propelling Drake to global pop-icon status. 

But on last year’s Certified Lover Boy, the 35-year-old Canadian started to sound tired. And who can blame him? Drake is about as formulaic an artist as there ever was. The thing about formulas is they become tedious. It’s only fitting that on his latest album, Honestly, Nevermind, Drake took his biggest risk yet by shifting genres and releasing a house album. Sure there’s a sprinkling of hip-hop on Sticky and Jimmy Cooks, but the sound here is unmistakably house or dance, as some may call it.

Directing the ship is none other than South African house music veteran Black Coffee, who is among the executive producers. The pair collaborated on 2017’s Get It Together, a remake of Black Coffee’s classic house anthem Superman, which was widely panned. Given this history, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Despite my reservations, the album jolts to a lively opening with Falling Back, a fast-paced house bop. It’s a good enough start. But it doesn’t take long  to start sounding like you’re listening to different versions of the same song. It quickly becomes evident Black Coffee and his co-stars of producers haven’t taken care in building full songs. I’m assuming they were going for a minimalistic approach, but there’s a thin line between minimalism and emptiness and this album leans towards the latter. 

I love corny Drake but some of the lines are just mind-numbingly pretentious. “Got you a Mercedes-Benz, but that don’t make you driven,” he raps on A Keeper, before trailing off with the cringe-worthy line: “Friendship and loyalty, that’s not what it’s giving.”

Even his personal album notes on Apple Music don’t say much. 

“I let my humbleness turn to numbness at times letting time go by knowing I got the endurance to catch it another time.” Um, what? 

Drake has mastered the art of saying a lot while saying nothing, and that’s exactly what he does throughout Honestly, Nevermind. But this time he isn’t rescued by the viral catchiness of a God’s Plan or the sultry Caribbean bounce of One Dance.

There are a few good moments on here, though. Massive is catchy, while Flight’s Booked features vocals by the South African-based Congolese pop musician Tresor. 

Drake could have got away with it had he done away with the title of “album” as he did with More Life. It’s more a mix tape than an album, and while the genre has changed, everything else is still exactly the same. — Shingai Darangwa

Multi-award-winning Canadian rapper, singer and songwriter Drake released his seventh studio album in a surprise drop in June. Honestly, Nevermind is a mixture of electronic dance sounds, with a flare of R&B soul and hip-hop. 

Drake’s latest offering isn’t a typical rap album; the sound is largely influenced by the house and electronic music with which the rapper is familiar. 

On his previous albums he’s given audiences songs like Get it Together, which sampled Black Coffee’s 2010 hit song featuring Busi Superman; Fountains, featuring Tems, which is a mix of R&B and Afrobeats and One Dance, which won the Billboard award for top R&B song in 2017, on which he featured award winning Nigerian superstar, Wizkid.  

Honestly, Nevermind is not the kind of album you’re automatically going to love. Listening to it once, you might not experience the magic it offers, however, it is there. 

Standout tracks include Texts Go Green, which has a simple baseline and melody. There are moments when you aren’t sure if his vocals are in tune with the beat, yet it works. There’s no climax, no dramatic moment, the song just flows, easing you into the rest of the album. Current has a house disco feel — the repetition is hypnotic, featuring layers of different beats and sounds so that it almost makes you unsure of what the rhythm really is. 

The album has a little bit of everything a deep house lover could want. 

A Keeper has a simplistic feel yet a soothing effect. It has this beautiful calm, consistent melody that gradually progresses then changes and all you experience is bliss for a split second before the song ends.  

Every Instagram baddie and TikTok lover’s anthem is going to be Sticky or Massive. Sticky is a perfect blend of vibey and up-tempo, and unlike the rest of the album, Drake actually spits bars on the song. It’s the moment when you remember he is a rapper as much as a singer.  

On the other hand, Massive is an electronic dance jam  makes you feel like you want to be at a festival, sitting on some random person’s shoulders with your arms aimed at the sky and a drink in one hand. 

After listening to the album, you’re not sure whether you should tell your crush you have feelings for them or suffer in silence. Drake knows how to make it okay for you to express your feelings without confessing everything and maybe that’s why he called this album Honestly, Nevermind. 

Either way, whether you are a Drake fan or not, one thing you can’t dispute is Honestly, Nevermind is a refreshing body of work. It may not be the best house or electronic dance album of all time, but it’s not meant to be. — Bongeka Gumede