Welcome to “New Music with Nick.” In this column, I will be reviewing some of the most notable new album releases across various genres, focusing on hip-hop, R&B and pop music. Join me in exploring the ever-shifting landscape of the streaming era.
Drake & 21 Savage: “Her Loss” (Nov. 4, 2022)
Another year, another Drake album. Or more accurately at this point: another few months, another Drake album.
Including mixtapes and compilations of older unreleased music, we have gotten at least one full-length Drake project every year since 2015. “Her Loss” marks his third studio album in a span of just 14 months and finds Drake hoping to continue his commercial prominence and reverse the lackluster quality of his previous few projects.
21 Savage, although not nearly the commercial powerhouse that Drake is, has cemented himself as one of the premier mainstream trap artists. After selling over 100,000 units in the first week of sales with his last two studio albums, Savage completed his emergence into full stardom from a crowded group of trap artists.
More important than the sales, though, he has easily become one of the best (and arguably the best) in the trap lane right now. 2020’s “Savage Mode II” was a great album from front to back, utilizing skillful production from Metro Boomin and hilarious narration from Morgan Freeman to craft a wonderful artistic work. Its predecessor, “i am > i was,” was equally impressive, spearheaded by the smash hit “A Lot” featuring J. Cole, which went on to become a five-time platinum single and one of the best songs of 2018.
Collaboration albums are always an exciting proposition. Although this one is coming at different points in their respective careers and artistic trajectories, their chemistry and previous history together help to make the result seem fairly predictable and very well-advised. Drake wanted to tap back into his rapping side and connect with a proven great collaborator. With “Jimmy Cooks,” “Knife Talk,” “Sneakin” and “Mr. Right Now,” the two have already put together a solid collection in the past prior to “Her Loss,” with great success.
It turns out that “Jimmy Cooks,” their last single together, was greatly misleading. The fantastic production, captivating flows and great energy far exceeded anything that the two decided to bring to the table for “Her Loss.”
I didn’t come into “Her Loss” with the expectation of an artistic masterpiece, but I did come in wanting just a little bit more than I received. Drake ended up holding the vast majority of delivery on the album, providing 66% of the lyrics compared to Savage’s 26% (with 8% going to guests). It felt like a Drake album with a handful of 21 Savage features rather than a true collab album, and it’s clear to see which side was more invested in the project as a whole.
Savage delivered at multiple points in the project, but really without too many standouts. Drake held most of the album’s most memorable moments, mostly just because of the frequency with which he appeared and the beats that he was given.
There are few songs on the album that I would genuinely consider well-made or exciting. Unfortunately, there are several that I would consider bad or mediocre at best.
“Treacherous Twins” is a disastrous moment, a horrible song in all aspects that must have been made strictly for college girls posting drunk Instagram stories with their best friends. “Circo Loco” is another terrible track, packing corny bars and lame call-outs over awful production. “Hours in Silence” was appropriately titled, as it almost put me to sleep the way that literal hours in silence would. I can sort of see what Drake was going for with “BackOutsideBoyz” and “Jumbotron Shit Poppin,” but the execution was just so far off.
Despite these lows, some songs did deliver. “Middle of the Ocean” was the highlight of the album; it showed Drake flowing smoothly over a refreshing soul beat. “Pussy & Millions,” featuring Travis Scott, was another standout. The production was enjoyable, and every artist fit the track and meshed together nicely, resulting in an entertaining and feel-good hit. “More M’s,” “Major Distribution” and “Broke Boys” were the only other songs that really executed, with quality trap production that situated 21 Savage in his comfort zone and allowed Drake to effectively highlight his versatility.
As a whole, the album lacked the remarkable moments that I would want from these two superstars. The production and delivery felt really uninspired at times, and I was really hoping that they would be much bolder with their approach. Both artists would have benefitted from more soulful and creative production choices across the tracklist. The majority of the album felt like they were playing it safe — just good enough to be passable and hold a place in the mainstream.
I think we’ve fully grown past the days when we expect classic albums from Drake. I still hoped that the collaboration with 21 Savage would inspire Drake a little bit more and bring his sharpest rapping and production choices, but it definitely did not. Ultimately, it’s another hip-hop moment that will be a commercial success but an artistic flop.
Favorite Songs: “Middle of the Ocean,” “Pussy & Millions,” “Major Distribution,” “Broke Boys,” “More M’s”
Album Score: 59/100
Check out this Spotify Playlist and like it to follow along with some of some of my favorite songs of 2022 as the year progresses!
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.