It’s not the worst album I’ve ever heard — that’s pretty much the extent of the praise that I can give Drake’s June release, Honestly, Nevermind. The Canadian rapper-singer made an intriguing pivot to house-influenced music for the sound of his seventh studio album, but his watered-down take on the genre leaves so much to be desired.
I would call myself a Drake fan. His 2012 album Take Care is a modern classic and remains the pinnacle of his career. His follow-ups, 2013’s Nothing Was The Same and 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, were of similar quality, with plenty of replay value. But since then, every successive project, with the exception of 2020’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes, has been worse than its predecessor, culminating in the boring slog that is Honestly, Nevermind.
“Boring” is, by far, the most fitting adjective to use with this album. The first song, “Falling Back,” is unfortunately a preview of what’s to come, with how completely bland it is. Drake’s vocals are the heart of the song, but he’s just not a compelling enough vocalist to carry the track. It doesn’t help that the beat just sits in the background, pleasant enough on its own but failing to help drive the song. On top of that, the repetitive chorus at the end starts to grate after a while.
The rest of the album generally follows the same formula, but there are a few interesting deviations. I appreciate what is apparently Jersey club influence in “Currents,” which sticks out in the tracklist with its squeaky beat. There are also a couple rap tracks which immediately grabbed my attention as a hip hop fan. “Jimmy Cooks” is the best song on the project, with Drake providing a smooth flow and a light hook next to an energetic 21 Savage verse. “Sticky” is in the same vein — the hook is nothing special, but Drake’s rapping is tight and a welcome break from the lackluster tracks composing the rest of the album.
I’m not an expert on house by any means, but the only song on the album that felt like it did the style well was “Massive.” The beat is dynamic and has a groovy instrumental break, and I actually like Drake’s verses and hook for once. It felt like a glimpse of what this album could’ve been if more effort had been put into the rest of it.
The main problem on Honestly, Nevermind is that there’s no track that really feels sensational. “Massive” and “Jimmy Cooks” are the closest, but even then, I’m not sure I would put either in Drake’s 50 best songs. The run between them in the second half of the album is tough to get through, with “Flight’s Booked” and “Liability” being the only semi-listenable songs in that stretch. There’s just nothing to really latch onto — he production is solid, but tame and uneventful, and Drake doesn’t supply his usual earworm melodies or lyrics that make you take any sort of mental note of them.
I mind because Drake’s proven in the past that he can make really good music. He has multiple great projects under his belt, and even his recent string of decent-at-best releases have all had at least a handful of noteworthy tracks. Honestly, Nevermind was such a strange lack of effort from a bestselling artist with infinite resources. I’m not exactly sure whom he made it for, with both commercial performance and critical acclaim lacking compared to his past offerings. I’m sure there’s a contingent of Drake fans, dance listeners and maybe some others who enjoy the majority of this album, but I’ve seen plenty of members within these groups completely dismiss this project as well. My best guess is that either Drake was just off his mark this time, or he decided to make an album for himself with a genre of music that resonated with him. If it’s the latter, although I’m not a fan of the product, I can at least respect him for taking his sound in a new direction.
Nihar Hegde is a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].